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Ghost Army

By Liene Karels

This was the first group of Ghost Army deceivers to go to work in Normandy. Image courtesy of The Ghost Army.

“This is not a typical bang-bang World War II film,” said producer/director Rick Beyer, who will present a rough cut of his documentary, “The Ghost Army,” at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, March 17 at the University of Michigan Hatcher Graduate Library. “ It’s an amazing story of their strange adventure.”

“The Ghost Army” exhibit can be seen at the library through April 30.

In June of 1944, an exceptional U.S. Army unit went into action in Normandy. Its weapons included hundreds of inflatables – tanks, trucks, jeeps, airplanes – and a one-of-a-kind collection of sound effects records. It carried out its battlefield mission without firing a shot. The unit was officially called the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops, but it was known to its men as the Ghost Army.

Each day, the Ghost Army had to determine which military unit they were impersonating, and how they were going to deceive the Germans. Many members of the Ghost Army were artists; they not only created believable camouflage and decoys, but also sketched and painted their way across Europe. Clothing designer Bill Blass and many others in the unit went on to illustrious careers.

The film tells the story of the Ghost Army through survivor interviews, photographs from the war, and original sketches and paintings created by Ghost Army soldiers during their service in Europe.  “Creating this film has been a labor of love,” said Mr. Beyer. Members of The Ghost Army adhered to a gag order for decades; many never told their families about their extraordinary military service.

Sixty-five years after this top-secret group went into action, the University of Michigan Library will unveil the first public exhibit of this captivating group of materials documenting the Ghost Army.

Rick Beyer is an award winning television documentary producer with more than 30 years experience as a journalist, author and filmmaker. His documentary films have appeared on the History Channel, at the Smithsonian Museum of American History, Mount Vernon and elsewhere. The Ghost Army is his first independent project.

The Ghost Army is at the Hatcher Graduate Library – both a rough cut screening of the pending documentary and an exhibit.

The screening and the exhibit are free and open to the public.

The Ghost Army Screening Location: Hatcher Graduate Library, Room 100/Gallery
Screening Date and Time: 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 17

The Ghost Army Exhibit Location: Hatcher Graduate Library, Room 100/Gallery, through April 30