Members of WWII "Ghost Army" receive Congressional Gold Medals


Washington — Members of the Ghost Army, a top-secret military unit credited with saving thousands of Americans during World War II using distraction techniques, received Congressional Gold Medals on Thursday. 

The unit was tasked with deceiving the Germans. Using inflatable tanks and artillery, along with sonic deception like soundtracks, they tricked adversaries into thinking that Allied forces were in one location, while they advanced elsewhere. The effort, made up of a group of artists, designers, audio technicians and others, resulted in an estimated 30,000 American lives saved, and remained classified for decades after the war ended. 

Photos of
Photos of “ghost soldiers” who took part in deceptive maneuvers on D-Day in Normandy, France in 1944 are displayed in Old Bethpage, New York on June 6, 2020.

Steve Pfost/Newsday RM via Getty Images


President Biden signed legislation honoring the service members into law in 2022, noting in a statement “their unique and highly distinguished service in conducting deception operations in Europe during World War II.” 

House Speaker Mike Johnson, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries and other lawmakers delivered remarks honoring the service members on Thursday, before bestowing Congress’ highest honor. 

“This Congressional Gold Medal reaffirms our commitment to remembrance and reverence as we honor all of these patriots,” Jeffries said. “We thank and honor the members of the Ghost Army for their unique service to our nation.”

McConnell called the Ghost Army’s legacy a “story of commitment and resolve, bravery and devotion — and remarkable talent and ingenuity.”

“A grateful nation knows how you answered the call in its time of need,” McConnell said. 

Three of seven surviving members of the Ghost Army — Bernard Bluestein, John Christman and Seymour Nussenbaum — attended the event on Thursday. Family members of the late members were also in attendance. 

“I’m very proud and happy to be here to receive this honor,” Bluestein said. 

Because of the classified nature of the unit, the service members went unrecognized for nearly half a century. On Thursday, the  speakers celebrated the legacy of the long-unsung Ghost Army.

“The Ghost Army’s tactics were meant to be invisible,” Sen. Ed Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, said Thursday. “But today their contributions will no longer remain unseen in the shadows.”



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