Role of top-secret unit remained classified for more than four decades
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Edward J. Markey (D-MA) today introduced bipartisan legislation to award a Congressional Gold Medal to the 23rd 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. Senator Angus King (I-ME) and eight other Senators are cosponsoring the bill.
Ghost Army soldiers represented 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.
“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. “This bipartisan bill would recognize these soldiers with Congress’ highest civilian honor for their courage and resourcefulness, which were pivotal in the European theater and likely saved many American lives.”
“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’s time these brave patriots are recognized for their critical contributions to the Allied victory in World War II.”
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.
Other Senators cosponsoring the legislation include Rob Portman (R-OH), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), John N. Kennedy (R-LA), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).
A copy of the legislation can be found HERE.