WWII Veteran of the 'Ghost Army' honored for tricking Nazis with illusions: 'I faked everything'



A World War II veteran who played a critical part in the Allied victory was honored in a special ceremony this weekend in Palm Beach County, Florida. Manny Frockt, who was a member of the "Ghost Army," was presented with a Congressional Gold Medal on Saturday for his role in deceiving the Nazis with illusions during World War II, reports ABC affiliate WPBF. "The once-secret Army unit, Ghost Army"—which was not declassified until 1996—reportedly used deceptive tactics such as inflatable tanks, sound effects and even fake radio transmissions to draw Nazis out into the open and impede their military objectives.
"Their unit was intentionally placed to be observed as a real unit, to be observed as a real and viable threat meant to draw in the Axis attackers, and who was their backup to save them from incoming aircraft or from artillery fire or from snipers who would approach or from any other threat? It was selfless work," Florida Congressman Brian Mast, who is also a U.S. Army veteran, said during the ceremony. Presenting Frockt with a bill signed by President Joe Biden awarding the 97-year-old the Congressional Gold Medal, Mast said: "I'm proud to be a part of that very small portion of what we owe you, sir, and I couldn't be more proud that you'll be presented with the Congressional Gold Medal."
At the event, Palm Beach County Vice Mayor Gregg Weiss also declared Saturday as Manny Frockt Day in Palm Beach County. "A big thank you to those who served, and we are blessed to have Manny Frockt in our community, one of 10 remaining survivors of this unit, and it's a pleasure to be with him today," he said. Frockt, who is a resident at Tradition at MorseLife Assisted Living in West Palm Beach, was also praised by State Rep. Matt Willhite—a U.S. Navy veteran—at the ceremony. "There's never a time to not say, 'Thank you,' and to recognize you for what you've done and your service and sacrifice," he said.
According to NBC affiliate WPTV, it is estimated that Frockt and his unit helped save 15,000-30,000 American lives during WWII. While the top-secret unit had more than 1,100 members during World War II, Frockt is now one of only 10 surviving members of the Ghost Army, which was the U.S. Army's 23rd Headquarters Special Troops and the 3133rd Signal Service Company. "They won't be here long, so we feel like it's really important to honor them while they are here," said Rick Beyer, president of the Ghost Army Legacy Project. Speaking of how the unit tricked the Nazis, staging deceptions and illusions, he said: "They're gonna sneak in, they're gonna pretend to be somebody else, they're gonna sneak out. They're not really ever there."

"I faked everything," said Frockt. "We had fake airplanes, fake balloons. You name it, I did it." The existence of the Ghost Army remained mostly unknown to history until February this year when President Joe Biden signed a bill awarding them the Congressional Gold Medal, one of the nation's highest honors for pioneering war tactics and using art to save lives. Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts was the bill's main sponsor. "With President Biden's signature today, the flesh and blood and brains and courage of the brave men of this unit are finally getting the public recognition they deserve," Markey said in a statement at the time.




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