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Welcome to VFW Post 5713
EICHAR DE CURTINS POST 5713 1118 W. LOGAN ST. P.O. BOX 293 CELINA, OHIO 45822-0293 419-586-3140   E-mail vfw@bright.net
Mercer County Native Bill Brown. Bill was our 9th VFW Post Commander
“Secret Soldiers, The Story of World War II’s Heroic Army of Deception,” by Philip Gerard is another exciting and dramatic story which includes a Mercer County Citizen and his role in defeating the enemy during World War II.  The Bill Brown Story, about his owning the Celina Auto Company and the subsequent 1953 fire which was the second largest fire in Celina’s history was not as exciting of as the story of Bill Brown and his role with the “Secret Soldiers,” in World War II.  This story has been told on television, on PBS, The History Channel, and BBC   Men and women were recruited, with the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops to become phantom warriors in a ghost army to help win the Battle of Europe.  The Military recruited Engineers, artists, architects, actors, set designers, and other walks of life, for the goal to encourage creative thinking.   One of those warriors was Bill Brown from Celina, Ohio.  He’d been attending Indiana University when the war broke out.  He volunteered, passed radio operator school and code school and was studying in the army ASTP program at Grinnell College when Railey’s personnel scouts found him.  As with all the guys in the sonic program, unbeknownst to him, the FBI had already checked out his background. He was then recalled to Fort Monmouth, the Signal Corps Headquarters and from there put on a train to Pine Camp.  “The night we got there, it was thirty-five below zero and we had no arctic equipment,”  Brown wrote. “They had trucks backed up to the train, and there was a voice yelling, ‘Get these guys back to the barracks as fast as you can!’  It was Railey.”  [Col. Hilton H. Railey, Army Experimental Station.]  Bill Brown became a gunner and radio operator in first half-track, first platoon, 3132d Signal Services Company Special.  They were told not to discuss their operations.  Railey told them, “If you shoot off your mouth, you’ll be liable to fall off the back of a truck some dark night and I’ll have to file an accidental death report on you.”   Their 23rd Headquarters Special Troops unit consisted of the 406th Combat Engineers, the
603rd Camouflage Engineers, the 3132 Signal Service Company Special and the Signal Company Special.  The 603rd was equipped with inflatable tanks, cannons, jeeps, trucks and airplanes that men could inflate with air compressors.  The 603rd could create dummy airfields, motor pools, tank formations within a few hours.  The 3132 Signal Service Co. handled sonic deception, with phony traffic nets, and fake radio operators.  Even though this group consisted of a thousand members, and fought in more battles than any other unit, the United States Soldiers were not aware of their presence.   One report from author Philip Gerard read, “August 7, 1944, in fog and darkness, four German divisions counterattacked Patton’s newly activated Third Army at Mortain, near Avranches, Patton’s headquarters.  After the German counterattack had been repulsed, Railey’s men and the sonic platoons were ordered on their way, Bill Brown, as usual, was in the half-track just behind Major Williams’ jeep.  The objective of Operation Brittany was to make the Germans believe that the Americans were weakening their forces on the main battle line and diverting them into Brittany on a large scale.  That would embolden them to remain in the Normandy pocket.”  The Battle of Normandy followed.   Another Gerard report read, “Later in August,1944,  the Special Plans Branch came up with a bold plan to use the Special Troops:  send them south around Paris to hook up with the U.S. 7th Army charging up the Rhone Valley from the Mediterranean and block the retreat of the German 19th Army.  ‘It was a charming and ghastly plan, we would pretend to close the Belfort Gap – stretch a rubber band of decoys from Sens to Dijon- and thereby snag the whole Wehrmacht kit and caboodle.’ wrote Fox.”  [Lt. Frederic Fox, a Member of the Signal Corps]   Gerard’s book, “Secret Soldiers,” and related photographs and stories will be on exhibit at the October 26, 14th Annual Military Exhibit at the Mercer County Historical Museum, 1:00 – 4:00.
Bill Brown, received his medal for his service as a Secret Soldier in World War II, from Governor Rick Scott when he and Major General Emmett Titshaw awarded 513 Florida Veterans with the Governorís Veterans Service Award. Bill Brown, received his medal for his service as a Secret Soldier in World War II, from Governor Rick Scott when he and Major General Emmett Titshaw awarded 513 Florida Veterans with the Governorís Veterans Service Award.