Pell Center

The Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy at Salve Regina is a multidisciplinary research center focused at the intersection of politics, policies and ideas.

Telling the Story of the World War II Ghost Army with Rick Beyer

Air Dates: May 20-26, 2024

At the height of World War II, American military commanders created a unit dedicated to deception to give Allied forces an advantage on the battlefield.  The artists, sound technicians, and radio operators of the so-called Ghost Army remained hidden for decades, but filmmaker Rick Beyer made sure their stories were told.

Beyer is a New York Times best-selling author, an award-winning documentary producer, and a long-time history enthusiast. His independent documentary, “The Ghost Army,” premiered on PBS in 2013. It tells the story of an extraordinary WWII unit that used creativity and illusion to fool the Germans. He also co-authored a bestselling book on the unit, and is president of the Ghost Army Legacy Project, a non-profit dedicated to preserving and honoring the legacy of the unit. He spearheaded the lobbying effort that convinced Congress to award the unit a Congressional Gold Medal. Beyer has produced numerous other documentaries and is the author of the popular “Greatest Stories Never Told” series of history books. He has written for Politico, The Hill, the History Channel Magazine, America in WWII and other publications. Beyer also co-hosts the “History Happy Hour” livestream with Chris Anderson, which can be seen live every Sunday at 4:00 p.m. ET on the “History Happy Hour” Facebook and YouTube pages and is now available as a podcast.

On this episode of “Story in the Public Square,” Beyer discusses the significance of a secret American army unit in World War II that he has spent the last 20 years studying.  He tells the story of their succesful deception missions on the battlefields of Europe, where they used inflatable tanks, sound effects, and all sorts of illusion, radio trickery, and other forms of illusion, to fool the Germans about the location and size of American troops. The unit received a Congressional Gold Medal earlier this year.

“Story in the Public Square” broadcasts each week on public television stations across the United States. A full listing of the national television distribution is available at this link. In Rhode Island and southeastern New England, the show is broadcast on Rhode Island PBS on Sundays at 11:00 a.m. and is rebroadcast Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. An audio version of the program airs Saturdays at 8:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. ET, Sundays at 5:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. and Mondays at 2:30 a.m. ET on SiriusXM’s popular P.O.T.U.S. (Politics of the United States), channel 124. “Story in the Public Square” is a project of the Pell Center at Salve Regina University. The initiative aims to study, celebrate and tell stories that matter.