At Long Last, The “Ghost Army” Is Recognized For Saving American Lives During World War II

( — In 1944, 82 officers and 1,023 men were activated as “Ghost Army” to use innovative deception techniques as part of the World War II war effort. The teams used sonic, radio, and visual forms of deception to fool German forces during the final year of World War II. The units did not carry heavy military weaponry, but through their various deceptions, they had the ability to make the German forces believe they were two fully equipped divisions of about 30,000 men.

At a ceremony in their honor on Thursday, March 21, Rick Beyer, the president of the nonprofit Ghost Army Legacy Project, which has long made it their mission to honor the Ghost Army for their service, commented that the acknowledgement may have been a long time coming, but the wait was worth it. The award gave special mention to the 23d Headquarters Special Troops, as well as the 3133 Signal Company Special Unit.

The files on the Ghost Army were declassified in 1996, revealing the unconventional methods used in the secret project. They used many deceptive methods to make it seem like they were a much larger and lethal force. Inflatable tanks and sound effects made locals think entire battalions were moving through villages at night. Their tactics involved costumes, props, acting, and clever illusions to misdirect the enemy away from real military targets.

Three of the surviving seven Ghost Army veterans were present on Thursday to be formally recognized by the US Congress with Congressional Gold Medals. The men who were personally thanked for their service and patriotism are Bernard Bluestein, the 100-year-old who worked in the visual deception unit and later worked in industrial design, 99-year-old John Christman, who was a demolition specialist, and 100-year-old Seymour Nussenbaum, whose specialty was counterfeit patches worn by the unit. House Speaker Mike Johnson commented that rarely had there been so few men who had such a great influence on the outcome of any major military campaign.

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