Van Hollen, Senate Colleagues Honor WWII Ritchie Boys Service

August 10, 2021

Senate-approved bipartisan resolution recognizes the bravery and contributions of 19,000 soldiers who served in vital language and intelligence roles in all theaters of World War II

U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) And Senators Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) Greeted the unanimous passage by the Senate on Monday evening of their resolution (S. Res. 349) which honors the contributions and service of the Ritchie Boys during WWII. A unit of the United States Army named after Camp Ritchie in Maryland where they trained, the Ritchie Boys included individuals of many faiths who were both born in the United States and overseas, originally from 70 countries. These men had language and skills that prepared them to become specialists, counter-intelligence agents, photo-interpreters, and psychological warfare experts. The Ritchie Boys were assigned to every unit in the United States Army, as well as to the Marines, as well as the OSS and Counter Intelligence Corps during World War II. Their contributions were essential to the Allied war effort; a declassified report reports that the Ritchie Boys have gathered nearly 60% of the actionable intelligence in Europe.

“We owe a debt of gratitude to the Richie Boys for their bravery and service. The military intelligence skills of these soldiers were a vital asset to Allied forces and saved countless lives. We must ensure that the courage and sacrifice of the Richie Boys is recognized and never forgotten ”, said Senator Van Hollen.

About 2,800 Ritchie Boys were refugees who fled Nazi persecution in Germany and Austria and came to the United States (as “enemy aliens”) before we entered World War II. These people, including Senator Wyden’s father Peter Wyden, were the most motivated to come back and fight for their new adopted country. After the war, the Ritchie Boys continued to serve as interpreters and interrogators during the Nuremberg trials. Of the roughly 19,000 Ritchie Boys who served in the war, about 200 are still alive, aged 95 to 107. “The Ritchie Boys were heroes who used their innate skills to gather information from all sources and save the lives of American and Allied troops. Our praise for their bravery and bravery may have been delayed because much of their effort had been previously ranked, but our thanks cannot be overstated ”, said Senator Cardin, “With fewer and fewer Ritchie Boy veterans left, it is more important than ever that we honor their memory and courageous service to their country. All of them deserve their nation to recognize how they used their talents to fight for freedom when it faced its greatest threat. “

“The Ritchie Boys served the United States with bravery and courage, saving the lives of many Americans and Allied forces,” Senator Crapo said. “The Frank Church of Idaho served in this heroic group, and Idaho is home to a Ritchie Boy veteran, William Hulet. These intrepid and highly specialized men deserve our respect and honor for the work they have done to save lives and preserve our freedom.

“The Ritchie boys were instrumental in the victory of the Allied forces in World War II,” said Senator Risch. “Recently declassified documents have shed light on their efforts, which have saved the lives of countless American soldiers. These brave intelligence operatives are committed to defending our freedoms when they were most threatened, and they deserve our recognition. “

“My father, Peter Wyden, fled Nazi Germany to seek refuge in America, and he felt deeply compelled to serve his new home and to fight to save his old man in the Ritchie Boys of the United States Army. . Until recently, I didn’t even know the extent of my father’s service. The Ritchie Boys not only created propaganda to abandon Nazi-occupied territories, among other critical responsibilities. Recently declassified reports have revealed that they were integral to the collection of counterintelligence that helped secure Allied victory in World War II. I am extremely proud to join this resolution recognizing the contributions of the Ritchie Boys, many of whom, like my father, were refugees united by a sense of honor and service ”, Senator Wyden said.

The Ritchie Boys were dispatched as individual specialists in small elite teams to join combat units in theaters of operations in North Africa, the Mediterranean, Europe and the Pacific from 1942 and in military camps, prisoner of war camps and interrogation centers (such as Fort Hunt, VA) in the American members of the unit displayed a bravery which was rewarded with more than 65 Silver Star medals and numerous Bronze Star medals as well as at least five Legion of Honor medals and numerous Croix de Guerre medals. About 140 Ritchie Boys lost their lives in the war.

The full text of S. Res. 349 in honor of the Ritchie Boys can be found at this link.

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