Artist-sol­dier in WWII ploy lives qui­etly in Schaum­burg

Chicago Tribune (Sunday) - - FRONT PAGE - By Wil­liam Lee

Art is the thread that has run through 95-year-old Bernie Bluestein’s life.

It has stretched from his youth sketch­ing news­pa­per comic strips and pinup girls in Cleve­land to his golden years rack­ing up 30 years’ ten­ure as an emer­i­tus art stu­dent at Harper Col­lege in Pala­tine.

His tidy four-room apart­ment in Schaum­burg is a tes­ta­ment to his life­long de­vo­tion, nearly ev­ery inch filled with paint­ings, etch­ings, sketches, carv­ings, stand­ing sculp­tures and hand­made fur­ni­ture.

But it was in the role of sol­dier where he cre­ated per­haps his most re­mark­able work.

A life­time ago, on the edge of man­hood, a 19-yearold Bluestein chose a path of sub­ver­sion and trick­ery on be­half of the U.S. mil­i­tary dur­ing World War II in an as­sign­ment so se­cre­tive the de­tails were only de­clas­si­fied in 1996.

“Our out­fit was a top se­cret out­fit. No­body knew about it,” Bluestein said plainly of his stealthy work with the 603rd Cam­ou­flage En­gi­neers bat­tal­ion more than 70 years ago.

“When I wrote home, (Army of­fi­cials) deleted any­thing that in­di­cated where we were, or what we were do­ing or any­thing. No­body knew about this: my par­ents, my

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$3.99 city and sub­urbs, $4.99 else­where 171st year No. 315 © Chicago Tri­bune


A dummy tank from the World War II “Ghost Army.”

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