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Legislation recommends medal for intelligence professionals

Fort Ritchie, closed in 1998, served as a secretive military intelligence training facility during World War II.

Location image courtesy of Washington County, Maryland, government. Personnel image courtesy of United States Holocaust Museum.

A congressional gold medal is sought for “the military intelligence professionals at Camp Ritchie, commonly known as the ‘Ritchie Boys,’ in recognition of their groundbreaking contributions to the field of human intelligence and their outstanding service during World War II.”

The Ritchie Boys comprised approximately 20,000 servicemen and 200 Women’s Army Corps members who were trained for U.S. Army Intelligence during World War II at the secret Camp Ritchie training facility in Cascade, Maryland. A large number were them were Jewish refugees born in Germany and Austria. Most of the men sent to Camp Ritchie for training were assigned there because of their fluency in German, French, Italian, Polish, or other languages needed by the U.S. Army during World War II.

The Ritchie Boys were specially trained in methods of intelligence, counterintelligence, interrogation, investigation and psychological warfare at the Military Intelligence Training Center at Camp Ritchie, later officially designated as Fort Ritchie Military Reservation.

In the early days of World War II, the site, then a Maryland National Guard Training Camp, was taken over by the federal government.

A tight wall of security was established around the post, with little known of the intelligence activities there until well after the war ended.

The training center was closed in 1945 and the facility returned to the Maryland National Guard.

The facility formally closed in 1998 under the 1995 Base Realignment and Closure Commission.

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