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Collins, Markey Bill to Award Congressional Gold Medal to WWII ‘Ghost Army’ Signed into Law

With only nine surviving members, legislation will recognize previously classified WWII Army Unit

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Edward Markey (D-MA) and Representative Annie Kuster (D-NH-02) announced that their bipartisan, bicameral legislation to award a Congressional Gold Medal to honor the top-secret U.S. Army units that served in World War II – known as the “Ghost Army” – was signed into law.


The “Ghost Army” units were instrumental to Allied successes at the Battle of the Bulge and the final battles in Italy’s Po Valley. Senator Collins’ father, Don Collins, was a World War II veteran who was wounded twice in the Battle of the Bulge. He earned two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star for his courageous service.


“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 our bipartisan legislation has been signed into law, 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.”


“The Ghost Army is no longer unseen in the shadows. With President Biden’s signature today, the flesh and blood and brains and courage of the brave men of this unit are finally getting the public recognition they deserve,” said Senator Markey. “This is a monumental step in bestowing a great honor to the ‘Ghost Army’ veterans, bringing their contributions and immense skills out of the darkness, and celebrating these heroes who made it possible for countless American soldiers to return home safely after World War II.”


“I’m thrilled President Biden signed our bipartisan legislation into law today to award the brave members of the Ghost Army the long-overdue recognition they deserve,” said Representative Kuster. “Through their courageous, creative, and innovative tactics, the top-secret Ghost Army outmaneuvered and deceived the Nazis, saving thousands of Allied lives during World War II. More than 75 years after defeating fascism in Europe, it’s time these soldiers receive the highest honor we can award: the Congressional Gold Medal.”


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 and 10,000 German soldiers would not have made it home during World War II.


Ghost Army soldiers represent 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. 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.