WWII ‘Ghost Army’ Soldiers Awarded Highest US Honor

During World War II, three American servicemen were recently honored with the Congressional Gold Medal for their courageous actions in using inflatable tanks and Hollywood-style special effects to deceive the German forces. Seymour Nussenbaum, John Christman, and Bernard Bluestein played a crucial role in saving thousands of lives through their clever tactics during 1944 and 1945.

These men were part of covert US units that formed a “travelling road show” across Europe. By using actors and various tricks, they misled the Nazi German army into sending troops to the wrong locations. The Ghost Army successfully deceived the Germans into believing a massive Allied force was preparing to attack across the Rhine River, ultimately aiding the Allied advance in the war.

The Ghost Army comprised just over 1,100 men who strategically deployed inflatable tanks and trucks to create the illusion of a real division. They also used sound effects, military radio traffic simulations, and officers in uniform to further the deception. Thanks to their elaborate ruse, the Allied forces faced minimal resistance at the actual Rhine crossing point.

Despite their significant contributions, these servicemen rarely spoke about their experiences during the war. Mr. Nussenbaum explained that he prefers not to boast about his achievements, while Mr. Bluestein often tells his family he did “camouflage work.” The dangerous nature of their missions was kept hidden from their loved ones, highlighting the bravery and humility of these World War II heroes.

The three men were awarded medals for their heroism by President George HW Bush in a ceremony at Camp David in March 2002.

The Ghost Army had been secretly operating since 1943 when they began assembling inflatable tanks and trucks on Long Island in New York City. They would then stage elaborate shows featuring actors dressed as soldiers engaging in battle with props made from rubber sheets.

As they traveled across Europe, they continued to use Hollywood-style special effects to create an illusion of reality that fooled even some members of allied forces.

In one instance, they convinced British Prime Minister Winston Churchill that there was an imminent threat from Germany by creating fake enemy radio transmissions with coded messages that sounded like genuine intelligence reports.

The Ghost Army’s success helped turn the tide of World War II by drawing attention away from real military operations and confusing German commanders about where real Allied forces were positioned.

In addition to inflatable tanks and trucks, they also created fake artillery pieces using metal pipes filled with sand or water balloons.

Despite their bravery and ingenuity during wartime, many details about how they worked remain shrouded in secrecy today.

By Sophia Gonzalez

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