Rep. Kuster and Senators Markey, Collins Applaud House Passage of Legislation Awarding Congressional Gold Medal to WWII Ghost Army
**With only nine surviving members, the effort would recognize previously classified WWII Army Unit**
Washington, January 19, 2022
Washington, D.C. – Today, Representative Annie Kuster (NH-02) along with Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) celebrated House passage of their bipartisan and bicameral legislation to award the Congressional Gold Medal to the 23rd Special Headquarters Troops and the 3133rd Signal Service Company, classified U.S. Army units that served in World War II, known widely 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. The efforts and contributions of the Ghost Army were classified for over 40 years, and therefore have not received formal recognition. Without the Ghost Army, an estimated 15,000 to 30,000 American soldiers would not have made it home during World War II. The Senate passed the legislation in December 2021.
“The Ghost Army saved thousands of Allied lives during WWII by conducting creative, innovative, and risky maneuvers to deceive the Nazis and draw forces away from Allied troops. But, because their missions were kept secret for decades, they were never recognized for their extraordinary accomplishments. The bipartisan Ghost Army Congressional Gold Medal Act will change that,” said Representative Kuster. “I’m proud that the incredible story and contributions of the Ghost Army during humanity’s darkest hour will finally be recognized, and the brave men of the unit will receive the long-overdue recognition they deserve. I look forward to President Biden signing this legislation into law in the coming days.”
“Until today, the immense courage and bravery of the ‘Ghost Army’ veterans have gone unrewarded and without formal recognition. These soldiers deserve to be recognized as the American heroes they are, and be shown gratitude for their critical contributions to our Allied victory in World War II,” said Senator Markey. “Today’s passage of our legislation is a monumental step in bestowing a great honor to the ‘Ghost Army’ veterans, bringing their contributions out of the darkness, and celebrating these heroes who allowed countless American soldiers to return home safely after World War II.”
“Our nation will always be grateful to the members of the ‘Ghost Army,’ the soldiers of top-secret Army units who served with distinction during World War II,” said Senator Collins. “I am pleased that Congress has passed this bill, which will recognize these soldiers by bestowing Congress’ highest civilian honor. Their courage and resourcefulness were pivotal in the European theater and likely saved many American lives.”
“It is thrilling that Congress has decided to bestow its highest honor on these WWII warriors of illusion, who saved untold lives with their battlefield deceptions, ” said Rick Beyer, President of the Ghost Army Legacy Project. “We are enormously grateful to Senator Markey and Senator Collins for their leadership on this issue, and all the people across the country who took part in a seven-year campaign to bring about this day.”
Ghost Army soldiers represent nearly every state in the nation, and the units were comprised of some of America’s most promising artists, engineers, and signals professionals. 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 George S. 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.