Role of top-secret unit remained classified for more than four decades
Washington (May 25, 2017) – Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), and Angus King (I-Maine) today introduced bipartisan legislation to award a Congressional Gold Medal to the 23d Special Headquarters Troops and the 3133rd Signal Service Company, U.S. Army units that served in World War II and were known as the “Ghost Army.” These units were instrumental to Allied successes at the Battle of the Bulge and the final battles in Italy’s Po Valley. Companion legislation has also been introduced in the House of Representative by Representative Ann McClane Kuster (NH-02) and has eleven co-sponsors.
Ghost Army soldiers hailed from nearly every state in the nation, and the units were handpicked, top secret units containing some of America’s most promising artists, engineers, and signals professionals. At great risk to themselves, the 23rd, composed of a mere 1,100 men, impersonated up to two divisions (30,000 men) physically, sonically, and radiographically to the enemy. The 23rd was so effective, they held a position in the middle of the line for eight days, allowing General Patton to throw all the fighting forces at German defenses. Captured German officers and documents related to the operations of both units demonstrate that the Germans were utterly convinced by the units’ deceptions and redeployed units and assets in response.
“These brave soldiers brought unique, creative skills to the most dangerous and critical missions,” said Senator Markey. “They epitomized the American can-do, innovative spirit. Against the odds, they convinced the enemy forces that they were the ones at a tactical disadvantage. It time that brave patriots like Jack McGlynn of Medford, Massachusetts and all of these units are recognized for their critical contributions to the Allied victory in World War II.”
“Our nation will always be grateful to the members of the ‘Ghost Army’ soldiers who served with distinction during World War II,” said Senator Collins. “Their courage and resourcefulness were pivotal in the European theater, helping to secure the Allied victory and likely saving many American lives,” said Senator Collins. “Our legislation, which would recognize these soldiers with Congress’ highest civilian honor, is particularly meaningful to me since my father, a World War II veteran who earned two Purple Hearts and the Bronze Star, was wounded twice during the Battle of the Bulge.”
“I’m honored to join a bipartisan group of my colleagues to introduce this legislation recognizing those who served in the top-secret ‘Ghost Army’ during World War II,” said Senator King. “These unique units, which included several soldiers from Maine, used innovative and creative techniques to confuse the enemy, reduce casualties, and support several Allied victories in Europe. Their ingenuity in the face of grave danger continues to inspire us as we craft strategies to respond to the diverse set of new threats facing our nation today.”
“It’s an honor to sponsor this bipartisan legislation to honor the unsung heroes of the Ghost Army whose innovative tactics sowed confusion among enemy forces during World War 2,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “The members of the Ghost Army, including Granite Stater Mickey McKane, saved countless Allied lives through their visual and acoustic deception. It’s long past time that these brave Americans were recognized for their contributions to the war effort during WWII, and I urge my colleagues to support this legislation.”
A copy of the legislation can be found HERE.
The missions and tactics of the units were classified for over 40 years, and have not received formal recognition. Without the 23rd, it is estimated that between 15,000 and 30,000 American soldiers and 10,000 German soldiers would not have made it home.
Other Senators co-sponsoring the legislation include Senators Jim Inhofe (R-Ok.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), James Risch (R-Id.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and John Kennedy (R-La.).