NASHUA, Iowa (KWWL) – At 14, Caleb Sinwell is already something of a historian after he took first place in the National History Day competition this summer.
Sinwell's project was dedicated to a military unit as mysterious as their name, the Ghost Army from World War II. Their work remained classified until the mid 1990s.
"These men here deserve the recognition that they should get but was held secret for 50 years,” Sinwell said.
The Ghost Army flipped military subterfuge on its head, quite literally in some sense. Video footage from the war shows the unit carrying around inflatable tanks and trucks with ease. These were use to draw Nazi eyes away from the truth in where and how strong American troops were.
Sinwell got the idea to create a website on the Ghost Army from his teacher and mentor, Suzy Turner. He says he worked closely with filmmaker and historian Rick Beyer, who released a documentary on the Ghost Army in 2013.
During a recognition ceremony Tuesday, Turner expressed the pride she felt for the young historian. It was a common feeling in the Nashua-Plainfield High School auditorium as Sinwell received a standing ovation from the entire student body as he was awarded an Army Certificate of Achievement.
Sinwell got the reward for his latest venture as a lobbyist, urging Congress to pass the Ghost Army Congressional Gold Medal Act. Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley is one of the bill's co-sponsors.
“We're going to hear a lot of big things out of him as well,” Grassley said after the ceremony Tuesday.
Sinwell thanked the members of his family, specifically those who served in the military, but also delivered a heartfelt moment of gratitude to his mom.
He's not sure if he'll study history in college, but he believes he'll find his calling in some sort of public service.