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Kuster, King Introduce Legislation to Honor World War II "Ghost Army" Veterans, Including Keene Native Mickey McKane

Bipartisan bill would honor top-secret unit that saved thousands of lives

 – Today, Representatives Annie Kuster (D-NH) and Peter King (R-NY) announced legislation they introduced to award a Congressional Gold Medal to the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops, known as the “Ghost Army,” a covert World War II unit that contributed to key Allied victories, including the Battle of the Bulge and the crossing of the Rhine River. By deploying inflatable tanks, planes, and other vehicles, using radio trickery, impersonating other Army units, and employing other deceptive tactics, the Ghost Army diverted the attention of enemy forces and is credited with saving thousands of lives. The Ghost Army’s activities were classified for more than 40 years, and this legislation would provide the unit with long-delayed recognition. 

“I am incredibly proud to sponsor this bipartisan bill, which would honor Granite Stater Mickey McKane and all the heroic members of the Ghost Army whose innovative tactics saved thousands of lives during humanity’s darkest hour,” said Kuster. “I thank my colleague from New York, Rep. Peter King, for joining me in sponsoring this legislation, and I urge all of my colleagues to join me in working across the aisle to convey our overdue appreciation to these brave Americans, whose critical accomplishments remained a secret for decades.”

“I commend Rep. Kuster for introducing this legislation which honors the critical role of the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops (“Ghost Army”) during World War II. Their heroics were unknown for more than 40 years and it is finally time that the American people not only learn about but recognize their ingenuity and selflessness which saved countless American and Allied lives. They deserve their due,” said King.

“We are deeply honored, and proud beyond description to know that our father’s role as a member of the “Ghost Army” has been recognized through this legislation,” said Keith McKane of Nelson, New Hampshire, a son of late Ghost Army member Irving “Mickey” McKane. “We also wish to convey our heart-felt appreciation for all those working to honor this heroic unit through a Congressional Gold Medal.”

Mickey McKane was studying at the Pratt Institute of Fine Arts in Brooklyn when he was recruited to join the Ghost Army. An expert in architectural drafting and stage, industrial and costume design, he was recruited for his theatrical skills. During his time of service, he was put in charge of payroll, bookkeeping, assignment logistics, and much more. A few years after the war, Mickey and his wife Priscilla moved to Keene, New Hampshire, where they became cherished members of the community who successfully ran the Stage Coach gift shop on Route 12 for nearly 30 years. Mickey also continued to nurture the design skills that initially earned him a spot in the Ghost Army by contributing to interior design ad campaigns for Better Homes & Garden.

The Ghost Army served in the European Theater of Operations during World War II, and was actively engaged in battlefield operations from June of 1944 through March of 1945. Many members of this innovative unit were recruited from art schools, advertising agencies, communications companies, and other creative and technical professions; others were regular GI’s serving their country. The Ghost Army often operated on or near the front lines of the conflict, and three of its members gave their lives in carrying out their mission. The first contingent of Ghost Army soldiers took part in the D-Day landings, and active battlefield deceptions began in Normandy just one week later. The Ghost Army’s unique story and contributions to the Allied victory were chronicled by a PBS documentary in 2013.

Mickey McKane - Photo courtesy of the McKane family