WASHINGTON, D.C. – The six-year effort to honor the “Ghost Army” – the secret WWII military units that specialized in creative deceptions on the battlefields of Europe – moved forward Tuesday with the House voting overwhelmingly to pass H.R. 707, a bill to award the soldiers with the Congressional Gold Medal.
The bipartisan bill, first submitted in 2015, was introduced by Rep. Annie Kuster (D-NH), with Rep. Chris Stewart, (R-UT) as the Republican co-lead. Companion legislation has been introduced in the Senate.
“The incredible story and contributions of the Ghost Army went unknown and unrecognized for far too long,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “During World War II, these brave men were on the frontlines conducting creative, innovative, and risky maneuvers to deceive the Nazis and draw forces away from allied troops. The Ghost Army saved thousands of Allied lives during humanity’s darkest hour, but because their missions were kept secret for decades, they were never recognized for their extraordinary accomplishments. I’m proud that my Ghost Army Congressional Gold Medal Act has passed the House, and I hope that the Senate will pass this bipartisan legislation to award these brave Americans the Congressional Gold Medal and ensure they receive the long-overdue recognition they deserve.”
The Ghost Army used inflatable tanks, sound effects, radio trickery and impersonation to fool and divert the enemy away from advancing troops. Although they have been credited with saving an estimated 30,000 lives, the work of the Ghost Army was classified as top secret until 1996.
The Congressional Gold Medal is Congress's highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions by individuals or institutions. Dating back to the American Revolution, The Congressional Gold Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom are the highest civilian awards in the United States.
“For years, these soldiers and their families haven’t received the recognition they deserve,” said Rep. Stewart. “Three months ago, I was honored to introduce bipartisan legislation that seeks to right that wrong. Today, I couldn’t be more proud to see that legislation pass the House. To
my Democrat and Republican colleagues in the Senate: Let’s pass this bill and give the Ghost Army heroes the highest honor we can.”
Rick Beyer, president of the citizen non-profit group “Ghost Army Legacy Project,” sees Tuesday’s vote as a major milestone in the long effort to win recognition for the little-known military operation. “Now we turn to the Senate, he said, where the Gold Medal legislation, S. 1404, already has 16 co-sponsors, but needs 51 more to be considered. “There are only 11 surviving veterans of The Ghost Army,” Beyer said, “and we want to get this passed and signed into law while they are still with us. Their job was not to wage war but to deceive the enemy, but their contribution to the allied victory was just as important as the soldiers who fired their guns.”
Surviving Ghost Army veterans are scattered throughout the U.S., in Florida, Ohio, Utah, Illinois and New York. For more information see www.ghostarmylegacyproject.org
Ghost Army Legacy Project