Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Ed Markey (D-MA) and Representative Annie Kuster (D-NH-02) applauded Senate passage of their bipartisan and bicameral legislation to award a 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 more than 40 years.
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 the Senate has passed this important bill, which would recognize these soldiers by bestowing Congress’ highest civilian honor for their courage and resourcefulness, which were pivotal in the European theater and likely saved many American lives.”
“The Ghost Army will no longer be unseen in the shadows. The flesh and blood and brains and courage of the men of this company will finally get the public recognition they deserve,” said Senator Markey. “These soldiers embodied the courage, skill, and bravery that our nation treasures in American heroes. During World War II, their spirit and sacrifice saved the lives of countless U.S. soldiers, and guided America towards the Allied victory, the liberation of millions, and the safe return home of our troops. Today’s legislative victory in the Senate will help lift their contributions out of the darkness and honor these patriots for their service to our country.”
“The Ghost Army saved thousands of allied lives during humanity’s darkest hour 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 service,” said Representative Annie Kuster. “I commend Senator Markey for his leadership moving this legislation through the Senate, and look forward to the House once again passing this legislation to award these brave Americans with the Congressional Gold Medal and ensure they receive the long-overdue recognition they deserve.”
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.
The missions and tactics of the units were classified for more than 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.
Click HERE to read the bill text.