At Last: Congressional Gold Medal Awarded to ‘Ghost Army’ That Outwitted the Nazis


The “Ghost Army” from World War II received a long overdue Congressional Gold Medal by Congress in 2022. They were responsible for several battlefield deceptions which completely confused the Nazis.

On Thursday, the group of seven survivors received their Gold Medals at a ceremony held in the U.S. Capitol.

Only in 1996 was the mission of The Ghost Army declassified. According to Speaker Mike Johnson, (R-La), their operations saved between 15 and 30 000 lives. Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La) presided over this ceremony.

The Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth stated during the ceremony that “the actions of the Ghost Army changed the course of war for thousands of American and Allied soldiers and contributed to liberating a continent from a horrible evil.”

Seymour Nussenbaum of Monroe Township in New Jersey, aged 100, was among the three members who attended.

He said that in some cases, people have impersonated generals by wearing a uniform and walking the streets. The units had “inflatables”, such as tanks and jeeps, that looked real from afar.

Rick Beyer, a filmmaker and author, helped bring to light the Ghost Army story in “The Ghost Army,” a documentary released in 2013.

Beyer said that the soldiers put themselves at risk, using imagination, bravery, and creativity so that other soldiers could fight and survive.

Beyer stated, “This is a day which has been long overdue, but has been worth the wait.”

NBC News:

The Ghost Army included about 1,100 soldiers in the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops, which carried out about 20 battlefield deceptions in France, Luxembourg, Belgium and Germany, and around 200 soldiers in the 3133rd Signal Company Special, which carried out two deceptions in Italy.

Operation Viersen was one of the largest missions in March 1945, when the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops deception diverted German units from the Rhine River crossing point where the 9th Army crossed.

Operation Viersen, with its many moving parts and complex design, went off without incident.

Beyer, in an interview conducted before the ceremony, said that “they had hundreds of inflatables set. They had their sound trucks running for several nights. Other units were attached to them. They set up several phony HQs and staffed them with officers pretending to be Colonels.”

Beyer stated, “This was a successful operation with all hands on deck.” “It fooled them, the Germans moved their troops across the river to where the deception was.”

The Ghost Army was literally without support in many of these missions. In September 1944 they stepped into a void in Patton’s army near Metz, France. The Germans were fooled into believing that the gap was filled by combat troops.

Beyer stated that “they end up holding the part of the line in place for eight days. This is a long time to deceive, and try to maintain appearances.”

The Ghost Army, who survive by using their brains and wits to stay alive, deserves all the praise they receive. It was long overdue.