WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — It’s a part of World War II history many might not know. A unit of artists, architects, and engineers were drafted to create battlefield illusions to trick Hitler and the Germans.
98-year-old Manny Frockt, one of the few surviving members of that unit living in West Palm Beach, was recently honored with a Congressional gold medal.
Frockt helped save an estimated 15,000-30,000 American lives during WWII.
As the war was raging on, the US army was recruiting a new top-secret unit that would attempt to trick the Nazis, staging deceptions and illusions.
“I faked everything,” said Frockt. “We had fake airplanes, fake balloons. You name it, I did it.”
Frockt was one of 1,100 others in a unit group known simply as the Ghost Army.
“They’re gonna sneak in, they’re gonna pretend to be somebody else, they’re gonna sneak out,” said Rick Beyer, president of the Ghost Army Legacy Project. “They’re not really ever there.”
The Ghost Army’s existence was basically unknown to history until President Joe Biden signed a bill awarding them the congressional gold medal in February, one of the nation’s highest honors for pioneering war tactics and using art to save lives.
Congressman Brian Mast presented the award to Frockt on Saturday. Palm beach County Vice Mayor Gregg Weiss also named Saturday “Manny Frockt day”.
“It’s a long overdue big thank you to those who served,” said Weiss. “We are blessed to have Manny Frockt here in our community.”
With only 10 surviving soldiers, the Ghost Army is turning into the army of ghosts.
“They won’t be here long, so we feel like it’s really important to honor them while they are here,” said Beyer.