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Congressman Trone, Senator Cardin Reintroduce Legislation to Award Congressional Gold Medal to World War II’s Unsung Heroes: The Ritchie Boys

May 19th, 2023 by WCBC Radio

Congressman David Trone (D-MD) reintroduced the Ritchie Boys Congressional Gold Medal Act. The legislation would award the Congressional Gold Medal to the Ritchie Boys, a group of soldiers who played a vital role in intelligence gathering during World War II. This legislation, first introduced in the last Congress, has received significant bipartisan support to honor the courage, bravery, and dedication of the Ritchie Boys.

The Ritchie Boys were a group of 15,200 servicemembers who trained in United States Army Intelligence methods at Camp Ritchie, Maryland, during World War II. Approximately 2,800 of the Ritchie Boys were Jewish refugees from Germany and Austria who had detailed familiarity with German cultural attitudes and communication. This vital knowledge, coupled with their language skills, is how the Ritchie Boys were able to gather over 60 percent of the actionable intelligence in Europe during the war.

"The Ritchie Boys were true American heroes who made a significant impact on the outcome of World War II. Their story deserves to be told and their sacrifices remembered," said Congressman David Trone. "These brave men were committed to defeating fascism, bigotry, and hate. By awarding them the Congressional Gold Medal, we ensure their legacy is preserved for future generations to honor and learn from."

“The Ritchie Boys provided vital actionable intelligence to the U.S. during World War II by utilizing their language skills and cultural familiarity to turn the tide of the war in the European theatre,” said Congressman William Timmons (R-SC), co-lead of the House bill. “I am proud to co-lead this legislation with Congressman Trone to recognize the Ritchie Boys’ honorable and influential service with the Congressional Gold Medal, Congress’ highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions.”

The Senate companion bill is led by Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) and will be introduced in the coming weeks.

“More Americans should know about the Ritchie Boys and the important role they played throughout the war,” said Senator Ben Cardin. “I’m proud to help honor these heroes, who used their language skills, natural talents and knowledge of the countries where American GIs were fighting, to bolster the battle for freedom and democracy. Their bravery and the importance of their work cannot be overstated.”

“As the son of a Jewish refugee from Germany who returned there to help defeat the Nazis, I know I speak for many families who would be elated to have our relatives’ bravery and sacrifice honored and documented in this important way,” said Bernie Lubran, whose father, Walter Lubran, was a Ritchie Boy. “Due to the secretive nature of their training, the story of Camp Ritchie has not been properly shared. My father’s story, and the collective story of the Ritchie Boys, is one of resistance and perseverance – it is a story the future generations should know about.”

“I’m thrilled that the importance of the Ritchie Boy story and their legacy continues to be cast into the limelight – now on a national scale – through the nomination of the Congressional Gold Medal, America's highest form of national appreciation,” said Landon Grove, Director and Curator of the Ritchie History Museum.

The bill has the support of numerous veterans' organizations and military historians, who believe that the Ritchie Boys' contributions have been underappreciated in the annals of American history. The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest civilian honor awarded by the United States Congress, and the Ritchie Boys would be joining the ranks of other distinguished awardees, such as the Tuskegee Airmen, the Women Airforce Service Pilots, and the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders.

Endorsements: Association of the United States Army, United States Army Warrant Officers Association, Ritchie History Museum, the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at West Point, Jewish War Veterans of the USA, Japanese Veterans Association