WATERTOWN — Throughout life, Darrel Downing Rippeteau depended on a steadfast dedication to …
The story of the “Ghost Army” may become more known through a bipartisan effort in the Senate.
A resolution was introduced in Congress in April of 2019 to award a Congressional Gold Medal to the 23rd Special Headquarters Troops and the 3133rd Signal Service Company for their service during World War II.
The Congressional Gold medal is awarded to an individual or group performing an outstanding deed or act of service to the security, prosperity and national interest of the United States.
The Ghost Army medal would be similar to one presented to the Womens Air Force Service Pilots (the WASPs) on March 10, 2010. Receiving that medal posthumously was Mary Eaton (Cooper) Cox, 85, of Clayton, who died in December 2009. With the encouragement of her father, she began flying at the age of 16. Following the war, Mrs. Cox was a flight instructor at the airfield near Dexter that would later become Watertown International Airport. Among those she instructed was Darrel D. Rippeteau, Watertown, who had a key role in the Ghost Army at Pine Camp.
The bill notes that in evaluating the performance of the units after the war, a U.S. Army analysis found that “Rarely, if ever, has there been a group of such a few men which had so great an influence on the outcome of a major military campaign.’’
Specific examples of the “Ghost Army” are detailed in the bill. Among them:
n The first four members of the 23rd Headquarters, Special Troops, landed on D-Day and two became casualties while creating false beach landing sites and that the deceptive activities of the units were integral to several Allied victories across Europe and reduced American casualties.
n “Often operating on or near the front lines, the 23rd Headquarters, Special Troops, used inflatable tanks, artillery, airplanes and other vehicles, advanced engineered and skillfully crafted radio trickery to create the illusion of sizable American forces where there were none and to draw the enemy away from Allied troops.”
n “Soldiers of the 23rd Headquarters, Special Troops, impersonated other, larger Army units by sewing counterfeit patches onto their uniforms, painting false markings on their vehicles, and creating phony headquarters staffed by fake generals, all in an effort to feed false information to Axis spies.”
n “During the Battle of the Bulge, the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops created counterfeit radio traffic to mask the efforts of General George Patton’s Third Army as it mobilized to break through to the 101st Airborne and elements of 10th Armored Division in the besieged Belgian town of Bastogne.”
n The 3132nd and the 3133rd Signal Service Companies, activated in Pine Camp (now Fort Drum), New York, at the Army Experimental Station in March 1944, were the only two active duty “sonic deception” ground combat units in World War II.
According to congress.gov, the bill, H.R.2350, has been referred to the Committee on Financial Services, and in addition to the Committee on House Administration, “for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.”