Ghost Army may get Congressional Gold Medal

Two lawmakers are looking to recognize the American soldiers who used inflatable tanks and sound effects to fool the Nazis in World War II. They played a very important role in the success of the D-Day landings.

In 1944, the allies were making plans to liberate Europe from the Nazis. The Ghost Army was a decoy force. The allies pretended that a large American force, under the command of Patton was stationed in the east of England. This was to deceive the Germans into thinking that the landings would take place in the Calais region. In fact it was planned to take place in Normandy.

The Ghost Army fooled the Germans- and they concentrated their forces in the Calais region and this meant that Normandy was not properly defended. This meant that the D-Day landings did not face the full force of the German War Machine. The Ghost Amy helped to make D-Day a success and probably saved countless lives.

Representatives Peter King (R-N.Y.) and Annie Kuster (D-N.H.) say that the Ghost Army’s exploits in the months before D-Day deserve the Congressional Gold Medal. The role of the Ghost Army and those that helped to make it a success has not been officially recognized. Many see this as unfair.

“It is finally time that the American people recognize their ingenuity and selflessness, which saved countless American and Allied lives,” King said. “They deserve their due.”

King and Kuster are sponsoring “The Ghost Army Gold Medal Act.” Thirty co-sponsors have already signed up, according to the Washington Times. A bill will also be introduced in the Senate. The Times reports that Ghost Army vets currently live in 11 states and Washington, D.C.

The Ghost Army used inflatable tanks and aircraft, sound effects, fake radio transmissions and illusion to trick the enemy on the frontlines from Normandy to the Rhine. Officially known as the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops, the elite group risked their lives to divert enemy fire from their fellow soldiers.

Rick Beyer’s 2013 documentary, The Ghost Army, and 2015 book, The Ghost Army of World War II, brought attention to the unit and led to the Congressional bill

A movie is in the works by the team that made American Sniper (2014). Actor Bradley Cooper, director Todd Phillips and producer Todd Philips are all on board, according to the Times.

Other unsung units from World War II that went on to receive Congressional Gold Medal include the Doolittle Raiders, The Monuments Men, Women Air Service Pilots, and the Native American Code Talkers.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE