Lexington filmmaker Rick Beyer is on a mission to expose the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops for what it was.
This WWII unit was full of artists who specialized in deception and criss-crossed the European Theater in an effort to dupe the Germans and save lives. Young soldier-artists like fashion designer Bill Blass, Ellsworth Kelly, and photographer Art Kane used inflatable tanks, sound trucks and phony radio communications.
They were the Ghost Army.
Beyer first heard of the Ghost Army about seven years ago, when he met Martha Gavin, whose uncle, Army Corporal John Jarvie, was in the unit. She had binders filled with artwork his uncle created.
"I started to learn about the deception mission, learn about the art that they created," he said. "I beame very interested in the story and that's what started me on this journey."
Since that meeting, Beyer has traveled across the country and to Europe to dig up materials, photos and drawings. He's now very close to completing the film and figures it'll take another maybe $25,000 to finish the project.
This past weekend in Lexington, at the , which offered a window into his film and the unit it features.
"This exhibit is kind of a snapshot of the story the film tells, which is the story of a bunch of guys who go to war with inflatable tanks and sound trucks, land in Normandy, France in June 1944 and do 21 different deception missions trying to deceive the Germans, to fool the Germans, using all their trickery over the course of the next nine months until the end of the war," said Beyer. "And so we're trying to tell that story, tell it in a flim that we hope will get on PBS and try to tell it in this exhibit."
For more information about the project, check out GhostArmy.org.