Biden signs bill awarding Congressional Gold Medal to World War II ‘shadow army’

Known as the “Ghost Army”, Special Troops from the US Army’s 23rd Headquarters and 3133rd Signal Service Company employed tactics such as the use of inflatable equipment, including artillery and aircraft , and the creation of “fake headquarters staffed with fake generals” to deceive the Nazis out of “considerable amounts”. American forces where there were none and to draw the enemy away from the allied troops”, legislation noted.

The 23rd consisted of about 1,100 men, but they were able to trick the enemy into thinking they were a force of 30,000, according to the museum. To impersonate another larger unit in the U.S. military, they did things like sew fake patches onto their uniforms and paint fake markings onto their vehicles, according to Bill.

They flew more than 20 deception missions, often near the front lines, in Europe towards the end of World War II, according to the Ghost Army Legacy Project, who upheld the legacy of the unit and advocated for the Congressional Gold Medal—Congress’s “highest expression of national appreciation”—to be awarded to veterans.
During the Battle of the Bulge, the 23rd used counterfeit radio traffic to mislead German forces about General George S. Patton’s Third Army efforts to relieve Allied troops defending the city of Bastogne, Belgium.

And in Italy, in April 1945, the 3133rd Signal Service Company used “sonic deception” to distort the location of Allied troops on the German defense line, which involved blasting pre-recorded sounds to mimic the nighttime movements of army units.

In its last mission, “Operation Viersen”, in March 1945, the 23rd devised a plan which was to draw the Germans away from the US Ninth Army, which was attempting to cross the Rhine into Germany. The 23rd claimed to be two full divisions of U.S. forces using “fabricated radio arrays, soundtracks of construction work and artillery fire, and hundreds of inflatable and live vehicles,” according to the legislation.

A long kept secret

Long after the war ended, the Shadow Army and its heroism during World War II was kept secret. In 1996, a unit history documented by a former member was declassified, according to the Ghost Army Legacy Project.

The Senate voted for bipartisanship legislation awarding troops the Congressional Gold Medal by unanimous consent in December and the House passed the bill by voice vote last month.
“With President Biden’s signature today, the flesh, blood, brain and courage of the brave men of this unit are finally getting the public recognition they deserve,” said Democratic Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts, Principal sponsor of the bill. declaration Tuesday.

Rep. Annie Kuster, who has introduced the bill to every Congress since 2015, said “more than 75 years after defeating fascism in Europe, it’s time these soldiers received the highest honor we can bestow: the Congressional Gold Medal.

“Through their courageous, creative and innovative tactics, the top secret Shadow Army outmaneuvered and deceived the Nazis, saving thousands of Allied lives during World War II,” the New Hampshire Democrat added.

The Shadow Army’s deception operations saved the lives of an estimated 30,000 Allied troops, Kuster’s office said in a statement. Press releaseciting an analysis of the US military after World War II.

Ghost Army veteran Bernie Bluestein, 98, called it “an honor” to receive the medal.

“I never expected in my life something like this, it completely blows me away. I’m just sorry that there aren’t more of my fellow soldiers still alive who can enjoy it as much as I do” , he said in a statement. by the Ghost Army Legacy project.

Rick Beyer, president of the Ghost Army Legacy Project, who has also produced a documentary and co-authored a book about the unit, spoke of the honor saying in a statement: “Armed with their wits and their cunning, these men saved lives and helped win the war.”

According to the project, there are nine surviving veterans of the Shadow Army, including Bluestein: Bill Anderson, 97, of Kent, Ohio; John Christman, 97, of Leesburg, New Jersey; George Dramis, 97, of Raleigh, North Carolina; Manny Frockt, 97, of West Palm Beach, Florida; Nick Leo, 99, of Brentwood, New York; Mark Mallardi, 98, of Edgewater, Florida; Bill Nall, 97, of Dunellon, Florida; and Seymour Nussenbaum, 98, of Monroe Township, New Jersey.

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