Deception, fakery earns top-secret WWII Ghost Army Congressional Gold Medal 

Feb 2, 2022, 3:51 PM
Staff Sgt. Stanley Nance, who served in the once-secret 23rd Headquarters Special Troops, a unit al...
Staff Sgt. Stanley Nance, who served in the once-secret 23rd Headquarters Special Troops, a unit also known as the Ghost Army, stands alongside his radio vehicle, which he named the "Kilowatt Kommand," circa 1945. (Used by permission, Ghost Army Legacy Project Archives)
(Used by permission, Ghost Army Legacy Project Archives)

SALT LAKE CITY – Members of the so-called Ghost Army earned the Congressional Gold Medal after President Biden signed legislation Tuesday to honor the top-secret unit. 

Utah Rep. Chris Stewart co-sponsored the legislation in the House and Sen. Mike Lee supported it in the Senate. 

Members of the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops and the 3133rd Signal Company Special made up the Ghost Army. They were dedicated to military deception. 

Rep. Stewart tweeted, “This top-secret army unit stood up to the Axis of Evil and saved thousands of lives. I’m honored to play a role in bringing long over-due recognition to these soldiers and their families.” 

“The Ghost Army’s sacrifice and dedication is a key part to our nation’s history in the Second World War,” Lee said in a statement. “Men from Utah and across the nation joined together in creativity and craftmanship to counter cruelty and evil itself.  They are heroes and it is fitting that they be recognized today with the highest honor Congress can bestow.”

The top-secret US Army unit used deceptive tactics like inflatable tanks, fake radio transmissions, and sound effects to fool enemy forces during World War II. 

They even created phony headquarters staffed by fake generals to trick the Nazis about “sizable” American forces where there were none. 

The unit carried out more than 20 deception missions and many were near the front lines. 

It’s estimated they saved 30,000 lives during World War II. 

Their missions were classified and the unit was not recognized for decades. 

World War II Ghost Army veteran Staff Sgt. Stanley Nance laughs while chatting with Rep. Ben McAdams, D-Utah, in McAdams’ office in West Jordan on Monday, July 1, 2019. (Used by permission, Deseret News)

The Deseret News profiled Millcreek resident Stanley Nance in 2019. Staff Sgt. Stanley Nance took part in 21 of the Ghost Army’s risky missions including on the beaches of Normandy.  

The unit swore to keep their mission secret and Nance’s wife died never knowing what he did during the war. 

“They told me to keep it secret, and I did,” he said in the Deseret News story. 

Stanley died in December. He was 103-years-old.

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Deception, fakery earns top-secret WWII Ghost Army Congressional Gold Medal