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Rick Beyer ‘78’s Ghost Army
That the Allies faked the existence of an American army in the UK prior to D-Day is well known to historians and the public — the effort was even a core element in the popular 1981 movie The Eye of the Needle — but the clever subterfuge of spoofing the location of combat units during the fighting on the European continent was kept quiet for forty years, in the thought that we might use the same techniques in a war against the Russkies.
Rick Beyer ‘78’s film The Ghost Army tells the story of a group of artists, set designers, theater people (and some students, a cop, and a shoe saleman) who started off their war by learning the art of camouflage; then they changed gears with the goal of calling enemy attention to divisions that did not exist or were, in fact, elsewhere. There was no existing procedure for this unprecedented skill.
The group had mock tanks and vehicles that they could blow up like a kid’s inflatable swimming pool. They used “sonic deception”: recordings of tank engines and trucks and bridge construction; and they filled the air with the chatter of recorded radio communications — all to fool the Germans into thinking that there were units ready to jump off into attack at places where they were not actually present.
Addendum: The movie’s press kit describes Rick’s background as follows:
Writer/Producer/Director Rick Beyer is an award-winning documentary filmmaker, a bestselling author, and a long-time history enthusiast. His credits include Expedition Apocalypse, filmed in Siberia for National Geographic Channel; The Wright Challenge (winner of a Parents’ Choice Award), Secrets of Jamestown, Revolution in Boston and The Patent Files for The History Channel; and The Emancipation Proclamation (featuring President Bill Clinton) for the Smithsonian Institution’s exhibit “Abraham Lincoln: An Extraordinary Life.” He is also the author of the popular Greatest Stories Never Told series of history books published by Harper Collins, which have been described by the Chicago Tribune as “an old fashioned sweetshop full of tasty morsels.” He began his career as a radio and TV journalist in Chicago and Boston.
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