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San Diego Yacht Club

2009-04-14 18:34:12  
The Ghost Army was a United States Army tactical deception unit during World War II officially known as the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops. The 1,100-man unit was given a unique mission within the Army to impersonate other U.S. Army units in order to fool the enemy. From a few weeks after D-Day, when they landed in France, until the end of the war, they put on a traveling road show, usinginflatabletanks, sound trucks, phony radio transmissions and even playacting. They staged more than 20 battlefield deceptions, often operating very close to the front lines. Their mission was kept secret until 1996, and elements of it are still classified.



History and deployment

Inspiration for the unit came from the British who had used similar techniques on a smaller scale at the battle of El Alamein. The unit had its beginnings at Camp Forrest, Mississippi, and was fully formed at Pine Camp (now Fort Drum), NY before sailing for England in early May 1944. In England they were based near Stratford, and some troops participated in Operation Fortitude, the British simulation of a landing force designated for the Pas des Calais.

Some troops went to Normandy two weeks after D-Day, where they simulated a fake Mulberry harbor at night with lights to draw German fire away from the real ones. Next the full force assisted in bottling up the German defenders of Brest by simulating a larger force than was actually encircling them.

As the Allied armies moved east, so did the 23rd, and it eventually was mostly based out of Luxembourg, were it engaged in deceptions of crossings of the Roehr river, positions along the Maginot line, Huertgen Forest, and finally a major crossing of the Rhine to draw German troops away from the actual sites.



Ghost soldiers were encouraged to use their brains and talent to mislead, deceive and befuddle the German Army. Many were recruited from art schools, advertising agencies and other venues that encourage creative thinking. In civilian life, ghost soldiers had been artists, actors, set designers and engineering wizards. Fashion designer Bill Blass, photographer Art Kane, the artist Louis Dalton Porter and the painter Ellsworth Kelly served as ghost soldiers.

Although the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops consisted of only 1,100 soldiers, the contingent usedinflatabletanks and artillery, fake aircraft and giant speakers broadcasting the sounds of men and artillery to make the Germans think it was upwards to a two division 30,000 man force. The unit's elaborate ruses helped deflect German units from the locations of larger allied combat units.

The unit consisted of the 406th Combat Engineers (which handled security), the 603rd Camouflage Engineers, the 3132 Signal Service Company Special and the Signal Company Special.




Visual deception

The visual deception arm of the Ghost Army was the 603rd Camouflage Engineers. It was equipped withinflatabletanks, cannons, jeeps, trucks, and airplanes that the men would pump up with air compressors, and then camouflage imperfectly so that enemy air reconnaissance could see them. They could create dummy airfields, troop bivuacs (complete with fake laundry hanging out on clotheslines), motor pools, artillery batteries, and tank formations in a matter of hours. Many of the men in this unit were artists, recruited from New York and Philadelphia art schools. Their unit became an incubator for young artists who literally sketched and painted their way through Europe. Several of these soldier-artists went on to have a major impact on art in post-war America. Blass, Ellsworth Kelly, wildlife artist Arthur Singer and Kane were among the many artists who served the 603rd.


Sonic deception

The 3132 Signal Service Company Special handled sonic deception. The unit came together under the direction of Colonel Hilton Railey, a colorful figure who, before the war, had “discovered” Amelia Earhart and sent her on her road to fame.

With the help of engineers from Bell Labs, a team from the 3132 went to Fort Knox to record sounds of armored and infantry units onto a series of sound effects records that they brought to Europe. For each deception, sounds could be “mixed” to match the scenario they wanted the enemy to believe. This program was recorded on state of the art wire recorders (the predecessor to the tape recorder), and then played back with powerful amplifiers and speakers mounted on halftracks. The sounds they played could be heard 15 miles away.


Radio deception

"Spoof radio", as it was called, was handled by the Signal Company Special. Operators created phony traffic nets, impersonating the radio operators from real units. They learned the art of mimicking an operator’s method of sending Morse Code so that the enemy would never catch on that the real unit and its radio operator were long gone.



To add to the mix of techniques, the unit often employed theatrical effects to supplement the other deceptions. Collectively called "atmosphere", this included simulating actual units deployed elsewhere by sewing on their divisional patches, painting appropriate unit designators on vehicles and having the companies deployed as if they were regimental headquarters units. Trucks would be driven in looping convoys with just two troops in the seats near the tailgate, to simulate a truck full of infantry under the canvas cover. "MP's" would be deployed at cross roads wearing appropriate divisional insignia and some officers would simulate divisional generals and staff officers visiting towns where enemy agents were likely to see them. In addition, a few actual tanks and artillery pieces were occasionally assigned to the unit to make the dummies in the distance seem more realistic.


Pending film documentary

A documentary film about the unit, entitled The Ghost Army is currently in production.1


Ober Gatlinburg is an amusement park and ski area, located in the mountains overlooking Gatlinburg, Tennessee, USA. Established in 1962, the area contains a large mall with indoor amusements, a skating rink, snack bars, a full-service lounge, restaurant, and gift and clothing stores. Outside there is an alpine slide, one of the few in the United States, a scenic chairlift(the longest in the U.S.)to the top of Mount Harrison a bumper cars and kiddie rides. What was formerly known as the Black Bear Habitat where visitors could see bears close-up recently expanded to become the Smoky Mountain Wildlife Adventure, where in addition to the bears there are animals native to the Great Smoky Mountains such as river otters, opossums, raccoons, turtles, snakes, brown squirrels, and flying squirrels. During summer season and the winter months when it is a ski resort, the 120-passenger aerial trams carry an average three to four thousand people a day to the resort from downtown Gatlinburg.



Ski area

Ski trail

Ober Gatlinburg has eight skiing trails and three chairlifts. It is a very popular winter ski area (being one of the few in the Southeast U.S. and the only one in Tennessee.) Skiers and snowboarders are sometimes prepared to line up for over an hour to board the tram to the slopes.

A multi-tracked snow tubing slide is scheduled to open during the 2008-2009 ski season, where riders can slide down snow chutes oninflatablebobsleds.

Slopes Length Drop
Alpine Way 2600' / 792m 279' / 85m
Bear Run 3200' / 975m 393' / 120m
Castle Run 1100' / 335m 163' / 50m
Cub Way 1800' / 550m 163' / 50m
Grizzly 3800' / 1158m 556' / 170m
Mogul Ridge   300' / 90m 235' / 72m
Ober Chute 4400' / 1340m   556' / 170m
Ski school (teaching area)




The main chairlift is a $6 per person to ride, and the weight capacity on the lift is 155 kilograms (342 lb). The total ride lasts about 30 minutes, crossing River Road and then the Little Pigeon River before ascending up a steep slope.1 Riders can either get off halfway and ride the alpine slide down, or go all the way up. The unique ride runs up into the virtually untouched summit of the mountain and at the top, there is a scenic overlook to take pictures and listen to a live band playing country music. (There are other mountains with the same or better views, but the only way to get there is by a three- or four-hour hike.)



The aerial tramway departs from downtown Gatlinburg and travels west to the resort. There are two 120-passenger cabs, replaced by Doppelmayr in 2007.2 The 2.1 miles (3.4 km) tram ride runs 17 miles per hour (27 km/h) and takes about 10 minutes, and offers spectacular views of the mountains in the daytime and the sparkling lights of Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and beyond at night. The tramway crosses the Gatlinburg Bypass, a road which connects around the north and west side of the town and provides an alternate route of U.S. 441 (Great Smoky Mountains Parkway, or just "Parkway", which is the main street through town). The road is part of adjacent Great Smoky Mountains National Park.


Amusement park

The amusement park provides the following attractions:

  • Alpine slide
  • America's largest aerial tramway
  • arcade & redemption center
  • black bear habitat
  • bungee
  • water race
  • go-karts
  • indoor ice skating
  • Kiddie Land
  • miniature golf
  • Spider Web Velcro wall jump
  • water ride
  • Zeke's Place shooting range



There was a growing controversy in the town of Gatlinburg, as well as among visitors about the living conditions and general treatment of the bears in the Black Bear Habitat. Detractors pointed out that the "habitat" was little more than a series of three concrete "bowls" or enclosures that in no way resembled the natural habitat of black bears. "With little shade throughout the day and little to do or space to roam," many people felt the bears were being mistreated. The Ober Gatlinburg amusement park pointed out that these bears were born in captivity and would not survive in the wild, and they have shade if they want it but they like to lie in the sun, splash in the water and have plenty of space to roam. They have far more freedom than many bears kept in zoo cages.

The bears and their offspring were "rogue" bears captured by the city of Gatlinburg foraging in dumpsters and were slated to be euthanised prior to Ober Gatlinburg deciding to create the Bear Habitat. In 2008, the habitat underwent an extensive renovation program which now includes a variety of other animals, reptiles and rodents indigenous to the Smokies and is an accred and licensed zoo.


San Diego Yacht Club is a yacht club located in San Diego Bay. Its address is 1011 Anchorage Lane, San Diego, CA 92106, and is on a spit of land known as Shelter Island. San Diego Yacht Club has a thriving junior program, with accomplished juniors such as Olympic hopeful Andrew Campbell. Other notable juniors include Adam Roberts, Graham Biehl, Cameron Biehl, Anna Brun, Tyler Sinks, and Parker Shinn, many who continue their sport at college. About 200 children attend the program each summer, with many continuing year round. The junior sailors sail 420s, CFJs, Sabots and Lasers. High school sailing teams also sail out of the San Diego Yacht Club, including the Point Loma, Bishop, Francis Parker, and Cathedral Catholic High School Sailing Teams.

San Diego Yacht Club also has a main dining room, a library, outdoor seating, a bar, a pool and a pavilion equipped with a barbecue. San Diego Yacht Club was home to a America's Cup race in the 1990's.

SDYC has extensive wet and dry slips available for members. Members, for a monthly fee, can store their boat at SDYC. They are very hard to obtain and the waiting list is very long. The wet slips can accommodate boats up to 90 feet in length, and the dry slips are for smaller boats usually up to 23 feet in length.

San Diego Yacht Club is home to multiple fleets, many of which race regularly. There are fleets of Lehman 12s, PCs, Stars, Etchells, and an adult Sabot fleet. There is also a model yacht fleet which races CR914s. Most of the larger boats race outside of San Diego Bay.

SDYC leases an outstation on Catalina Island from the Catalina Island Conservancy. The outstation is named Buffalo Beach, and is located at the White's landing, Long Point area. The outstation offers many resources for the club members such as showers, stoves, bathrooms, tents, tables and cooking utensils. There is a semi-permanent "dockmaster" who tends for the outstation 6 months every year. Members who do not own boats can rent tents for a certain price and use the facilities available.

Prominent members include Dennis Conner, skipper in the America's Cup and Roy Disney, a member of the Disney family.

Jr. Sailing Program

San Diego Yacht Club boasts one of the largest and oldest junior sailing programs in the country. Founded in 1928 by Staff Commodore Joe Jessop, the initial objective was to teach “swimming, boat care, racing tactics, and sportsmanship”; eighty years later they are still following the same objective.

The initial class consisted of Robert Town, the 1928 Jr. Commodore, brothers Gordon Frost, Sr.*, Albert A. Frost, Jr.*, Robert Merit, Grant Stone and Walter Fisch. Lessons were taught in Sea Mews and Starlets (a junior trainer that was a smaller version of the popular Star class). Races for the starlets were held in the bay and two short years later in 1930 the American Starlet Association would be created with Gordy serving as its first Commodore. Of these six juniors, two became future Commodores of the San Diego Yacht Club and all of them paved the way for the Junior Programs future.

From these humble beginning the San Diego Yacht Club Junior Sailing Program has evolved into a year round intense training program affecting around 200 youth sailors every year. The Junior Program consists of a full time Junior Program Director, coaches, maintenance and administrative staff. Facilities include a Junior Clubhouse, tool room, Sabot and Laser storage spaces, sail and boat wash areas and two launching ramps. Members of the Junior Program have access to the junior charter fleet that includes 25 Sabots, 18 Optimists, Lasers (and Radials), CFJ's and 420's. Also included in the fleet are the SDYC Jr, Race Committee Boat, the Al Frost Sr., a dozen Whaler chase boats,inflatableand multi-boat trailers for travel to away regattas.

Throughout the year, events are scheduled for sailors of all ability levels including fun events, field trips, special racing clinics and a very active after-school program and practices. During the summer months, the Junior Program goes into 'high gear.' The Program employs the finest instructional staff, recruited from around the globe, to teach an eight-week summer sailing and racing program.

The result of coaching, learning and racing has led to the San Diego Yacht Club Youth Program's success in local, area, national and international competitions. In the recent past, SDYC Juniors have won the US Sailing Youth Championships Single-handed trophy nine times and the Doublehanded trophy four times. SDYC juniors won the Interscholastic Sailing Association's National Championships in '93, ’96, ’99 and 2001-2005 and have placed in the top three each year. The alumni of the SDYC Junior Program have, and continue, to compete at the highest international levels of our sport. Olympic Gold, Silver and Bronze medalists, World and National Champions in several classes and America's Cup competitors are all products of SDYC's Junior Sailing Program.

Along with its competitive achievements, the San Diego Yacht Club Junior Program also emphasizes fun, safe boating, seamanship, life skills and safe boating awareness. This serves to reinforce all members' dedication to the Corinthian principles and tradition of yachting at the San Diego Yacht Club.

  • Official site.

Coordinates: 32°43′01″N 117°13′43″W? / ?32.717038°N 117.228692°W? / 32.717038; -117.228692

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