Ritchie Boys: The secret U.S. unit who helped the Allies beat Hitler

Guy Stern writes memoir

Ritchie Boys: The secret U.S. unit who helped the Allies beat Hitler
Ritchie Boys: The secret U.S. unit who helped the Allies beat Hitler

Memorial Day is a day set aside to honor the men and women who died while serving their country.

Guy Stern, 99, is a member of an elite group of German-born Jews who fled their homeland, came to the United States and joined the U.S. Army. They’re known as the Ritchie Boys.

Stern is a few months shy of celebrating his 100th birthday. Stern, and a group of other young men, played a key role in helping the Allies win World War II. They trained at a top-secret military intelligence center at Fort Ritchie in Maryland.

For decades, the Ritchie Boys didn’t discuss what they did during the war. Stern detailed some of what he experienced, including his escape from Nazi Germany in a recent memoir titled “Invisible Ink.”

Stern said the Ritchie Boys don’t like being called heroes. They were soldiers doing their job. They had a war to fight and they did it.

While some memories have faded through the years, others remain etched in Stern’s memory forever. While Stern was able to escape, his parents, younger brother and sister were forced from their home, deported and later killed. He said losing his family still haunts him to this day.

Stern said the remaining Ritchie Boys still keep in touch. There are several other prominent Ritchie Boys. J.D. Salinger was a Ritchie Boy. So were Archibald Roosevelt and David Rockefeller.

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Kayla is a Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit. Before she joined the team in 2018 she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.