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— This Month —
More Than A New Year's
Resolution Is Needed
– What Happened To
Building A Signal Radio
– A Signal Corps
Six Army Signal Corps OCS Graduates Do The Impossible
Our Association is a not-for-profit fraternal
organization. Its purpose is a) to foster camaraderie among the
graduates of Signal Corps Officer Candidate School classes of the
World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam War eras, b) to organize and
offer scholarships and other assistance for the families of Officer
and Enlisted OCS cadre who are in need, and c) to archive for
posterity the stories and history of all of the Signal Corps OCS
Officers who served this great country. We are open to ALL
former Army Signal Corps OCS graduates,
their families and
friends, as well as other officers, enlisted men, those interested
in military history, and the general public.
Please, come join us. For more information about our Association, to
see a list of our Officers and Directors, or for contact details,
click on the OCS Association link at left.
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Corps Officer Candidate School Association, its Officers,
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More Than A New Year's Resolution Is Needed
What Happened To Integrity?
What happened to integrity? What happened to
thinking that one of the best things about being
alive was realizing—just about the time your
adolescence was coming to an end—how easy it was
to be a good person… an honest person… and then
setting out to be that person? What a heady idea
that was back then. You, just coming into your
own… a young 22 - 23 year old just coming to
grips with the idea that you were truly free to
live your life your own way… no more mom and dad
telling you what to do, or how to act… you could
now be whatever kind of person you wanted to be.
With a bar on your shoulder, living in your own
Officer’s BOQ—and a damned nice one at
that—people saluting you wherever you went. Your
own car—and a damned nice one at that—pockets
full of money… well, enough to buy just about
anything you wanted, anyway… full credit at the
O–Club… you were now on your own and life was
Remember thinking it was all finally coming home
to roost? How all those years of schooling,
teachers, priests, rabbis, scout leaders, uncles
and aunts and even the cop on the street corner
in the small town you grew up in telling you how
to think and act, seemed to be finally coming to
an end? No more people telling you to stand up
straight, mind your table manners, tuck in your
shirt, don’t lie, be polite, take ownership of
your actions, praise the accomplishments of
others, keep it clean during an argument, put
others first, ask to hear the other side of the
story, volunteer, be trustworthy, be reliable,
work to find a solution, be humble, be genuine,
be generous, be kind, raise up others… what was
it they called all those things? Was it
integrity? Is that what it was? Or was it
ethics, or morals? No, those were other things…
nope, integrity, that’s what it was… integrity.
now that OCS was over, now it all made sense.
That’s what military Officers are, you learned.
They are people with integrity… oh, and morals
and ethics too. People who lived by those kinds
Strange as it was, that little stint you just
completed in OCS was what brought it all
together… made it all fall into place. All those
years of training and learning from the time you
were born until now… the constant pounding into
your head of this thing called values… by
everyone from your mom and dad through to that
small town cop on the street corner again…
finally you could see it for what it was: an
attempt to turn you into a man of substance and
worth… a man with integrity.
Best of all, now that you knew what integrity,
morals and ethics were all about, you found that
you could decide for yourself whether to
subscribe to those things or not. It was up to
you to decide if you were going to be that kind
of person, or some other kind.
Looking back in time, it was great to walk the
earth back then, knowing that—having made the
choice to make integrity your byline—you
represented the best of the best. Hell, there it
was in black and white: by order of your own
country, you were officially recognized as an
“Officer and a gentleman.”
That was you. You, living life in real time,
practicing a value system you finally understood
and could now embrace. Not just some amorphous
concept of who you were supposed to be, instead,
now that you understood what it was all about,
you could actually be that
person… with every action you took. Someone who
made it a point to be honest… tell the truth to
his friends, family, fellow Officers, and the
troops you commanded, no matter what the
consequences… be loyal, do your duty… fulfill
your obligations… show respect… perform selfless
service for your country… be honorable.. display
personal courage to those around you, and with
every chance you had, reconfirm your integrity.
Those were good days.
Now, after so many years, you recognize that not
all the men you’ve known in your life had the
chance you were given… to go through a final
burst of education that taught you what being a
man was all about, just at that crucial period
of time when you moved from being an adolescent
to an adult. It’s interesting to look back and
see that past life so clearly now.
It seemed to come in three phases. The First
Phase took some 20 years to pass. During that
phase every guiding adult around you—again, from
your mom and dad through to your parish priest,
scout leader and that small town cop on the
street—tried to teach you about integrity,
morals and ethics, and the role they played in
Then came the Second Phase: OCS. A short phase,
it brought home to roost the practical results
of living your life either by applying those
values you were taught, or ignoring them. As
clear as the day was long, you could see how
having values helped you get through OCS, while
ignoring them hurt you.
Remember Pogey Bait? Lie to your TAC Officer
about having Pogey Bait in your locker, and you
were out of OCS, just like that. Sure the
punishment was tough if you told him the truth,
but it was much tougher if you lied to him. Talk
about an instant example of the value of being
honest. And if you asked why such a small lie
deserved such cataclysmic punishment, you
likely heard something along the following lines
from your TAC Officer: “Why would I want to
serve alongside of you, if I can’t trust what
you say to me?”
The point was made. In the heat of battle, every
Officer needed to know without question that
those fellow Officers he served with would tell
him the truth. Period. Strangely, later on in
life you would see that truth come home again in
domestic life too.
came the Third Phase. This one took about 4
years to pass. It started when, with a fresh
pair of new butter bars on your epaulets, you
stepped into your first command and began to put
into practice all of the lessons about values
that life had given to you, up to that point. It
ended when you either re-upped, or left the
By then you had tested yourself to the fullest.
You knew what values were… integrity, ethics,
morals… and how your applying each one would
affect your life. With certainty, you knew which
ones you valued the most. Best of all, you knew
who you were as a man, and what you had to do to
be that man.
If, after all of these years, you turned out to
be—from a value system standpoint—a man of
substance and worth, then you know today that
the Second and Third Phases we talked of
above—two crucial periods in your life—helped
you sort out the meaning of life. And that one
of the primary meanings of life that you learned
is that no matter what you do in your life, if
you strive to live your life by not just
practicing the values your parents taught you,
but actually living them in real time, then you
will be a happy man.
Make note of this: to bring happiness and
satisfaction to you and those around you, you
have to do two things. First, you have to know
what values are. That is, what does integrity
mean? Ethics? Morals? And second, you have to
actually live them.
If you are a member of this Association, then
you know what we are talking about, because you
long ago made the decision to learn what a value
system is, and live by it. It’s not you that
this article is about, it’s about those who once
learned these lessons, but have since abandoned
them. They tossed them aside in favor of a never
ending thirst for power, money or ideology.
What happened to our country that men of
integrity—men who strived their whole life to
practice honesty and those values that are
important to humanity—have abandoned the value
system they built for themselves and once
subscribed to, in favor of power,
Remember when your first tour of duty was up,
and you were trying to decide whether to stay in
the Army or leave and pursue a civilian career?
Remember how these values worked their way into
your decision making process? Remember thinking
that if you stayed in the Army you knew with
certainty that you would have the pleasure of
working beside men you admired? Men who knew
what integrity was, and practiced it. Remember
thinking “I could do this the rest of my life…
these guys are good people.”
Remember comparing working with men who
subscribed to social values—like those fellow
Officers around you—to working in civilian life
with the money grubbing, back stabbing people
you met in business before you joined the Army?
Or, God forbid, working in all of those other
parts of our government that seemed filled with
bureaucratic ideologs hell bent on imposing
their value system on you? Or even worse,
becoming a politician… someone who seemed to
have no value system at all?
Scary, wasn’t it. The thought of leaving the
Army—Army Officer Corps—for civilian life, where
so few people seemed to hold any value system to
But what choice did you have? By then everyone
knew the Army was going to down size. The war
was over, and while staying in the Army meant
working with good people… people you could trust
to do their damned best for the country… it also
meant that your career would not be going anywhere.
Promotions in the post-war U.S. Army were going
to be few and far between.
And so it was: stay in the Army and stagnate, or
get out and make a real living.
There was one civilian occupation however that
almost all of us Lieutenants and Captains that
decided to leave the Army thought of as an
option. It was a job that we felt sure would be
filled with people of integrity. The guys who
worked in this company—well, actually a
government agency—were above the norm. They were
honest, truthful, patriotic, moral, ethical, and
displayed an integrity at least as good as that
we found in the U.S. Army Officer Corps. It was the
Leaving the Army and joining the FBI seemed like
a perfect alternative, if working with men of
integrity was important to you. The FBI… and
perhaps the CIA too, and maybe even the NSA.
Yup, these three agencies seemed like the
perfect place for an ex-Army Officer to end up.
Back then, for us young Officers, these three
agencies seemed to replicate in civilian life
most of the values we learned of, subscribed to
and practiced as Army Officers.
Not today though. Not today.
As we asked at the beginning of this article:
what happened to integrity?
Today the world of ethics and morals has
disappeared. Generals letting their mistresses
read their Top Secret files. Other top level
generals getting drunk and spouting off
profanities about their Commander in Chief… in
public, and to the press. Still other generals repeatedly
subjecting subordinates to sexual harassment…
over, and over and over again. Others lying to
the Vice President and FBI.
Let's look at some of them:
Brigadier General Sinclair charged with sexual
misconduct. The same with Major General Joseph
Harrington. Major General Wayne Grigsby, found
to have spent nearly his entire career having
extramarital affairs and compromising security
in the process. Brigadier General Michael Bobeck…
the same thing. What’s the matter with these
guys that they can’t keep it in their pants? Or
how about this: an average of over 500 cases a
year of career Officers at the highest level
being investigated for misconduct.
That's not the Officer Corps I belonged to.
Then there’s Patraeus, a fool if there ever was
one. One of the most gifted men to ever command
troops caught letting his mistress read
confidential government files—never mind the
fact that he had a mistress. What was that man
thinking? Did he not know any better?
there’s Flynn. God what a sad example of
humanity. Michael Thomas Flynn, a retired United
States Army Lieutenant General who served our
country for 33 years… 33 years! Caught lying to
the Vice President and the FBI. He’s the reason
logic like “Why would I want to serve alongside
of you, if I can’t trust what you say to me?”
Some of these men shouldn’t be pardoned, they
should be hung for treason.
These men were not lowly Lieutenants just
learning about the responsibility of command and
the need for integrity… these were men who were
supposed to represent the best of the best. The
best America has to offer. Now they appear as
just another example of a country whose leaders
have gone south… whose integrity is up for hire,
who likely had no integrity to begin with.
This page last
updated 01 January 2018.
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Missed this year's Reunion? Now is the time to focus on next
year's. It'll be held in Charleston, South Carolina, from
October 5th to 7th, 2018. Plans are underway for hotel
accommodations and event rooms now. Announcements will be
made about the details of the event soon. Keep an eye on our
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Signal Radio Intelligence Company
A Signal Corps Success: Six Army Signal Corps OCS Graduates Do The
This author built five companies in his civilian business career. Two
were exceptional successes, which this young-at-the-time
businessman eventually took public on Wall Street, NASDAQ.
Before those two successes however came three failures.
Civilian communication companies all, building them proved
to be less than an optimal experience. Of the three
failures, the first two didn’t make it due to lack of money.
But the third was the real killer. It fully tested this
author’s mettle. By the time It was put to bed it had taken
a marriage with it, and left behind over $350,000 in
personal IRS tax obligations to be paid.
Building a company ain’t easy… not a successful one, anyway.
To build a successful company what you need is money,
equipment, talent and a purpose (read: product) that the
rest of the world believes is impossible to attain. After
all, if just anyone can achieve the purpose (read: mission)
your new company sets for itself, then that “anyone” would
have already done it and taken the market’s profits along
with them in the
In many ways, living the life of a Junior Grade Officer in
the Signal Corps is much the same. It’s all about building a
Look at it this way: One day you’re sitting in your
BOQ in lovely Nha Trang, getting ready to go down to the Duy
Tan Hotel (Khách sạn Duy Tân Nha Trang) and have a beer, and
the Colonel comes in and says “Lt. Ski, we need a Signal
Site up on top of Lang Bien Mountain, outside of Dalat. Get
a team together and go out there and build one… and Ski, get
it done or don’t come back.”
Of course, he doesn’t tell you that up on that mountain sits
a V.C. encampment that needs to be pushed off, 40 acres of
trees that need to be cleared, a 360 degree, 500 meter deep
free-fire zone that needs to be created, two in depth sets
of perimeter trenches that need to be dug to encircle the
entire 5 acre site, three single-story barracks to house the
Signalmen that will run the new site, another two to house
the Infantry boys that will man the perimeter defense
bunkers (and run the search and clear patrols that will have
to be mounted every third day), a mess hall, an HQ building,
a bunch of “communication shacks” to hold the microwave, VHF
and tropo gear that will be set up, and of course, a mission
to accomplish. That, plus a “team” of some 120 odd men all
dressed in olive drab and armed to the hilt, and what you will
have at your disposal is a Company… one that applies money,
talent and equipment to the task of accomplishing its
purpose… that is, its mission.
When you look at it this way, it’s really not that much
different than what is done in civilian life when one sets
out to build a company, except that with the Army the tough
part involving finding the funds to build a Company does not
exist. Neither does the problem of paying taxes, or of
finding the equipment needed to do the job, be it backhoes
to dig trenches, bulldozers (or C4) to level the trees, or
any of the equipment needed to erect half a dozen AB-577/GRC
Antenna Masts to get your commo equipment up and running.
An example of building a "Communications Company" – Vietnam War Style
US Army Communications
US Army Staff Film Report 66-43B
Nope, the tough part in building an Army Company, like in
civilian life, is finding qualified people able to do the
job—to achieve the mission. Qualified people is what it is
all about, and whereas in civilian life if you can’t find
the people you need you can simply raise the salaries you’re
offering until they come along, in military life that isn’t
the case. In the military you take what they give you, or
train your own.
Looking back on World War II, that’s exactly what most
Junior Grade Signal Corps Officers ended up doing. Back in
those days—in 1942 especially—Signal Companies were few and
far between, which as a result caused the War Department to
order them to be stood up at the rate of a dozen or so a
week when the war started. To command these new Companies, fresh out of school
2nd Lieutenants were finding themselves being assigned to do
something they had absolutely no training in… putting
together a fully staffed U.S. Army Signal Corps Company, in
record time. Their purpose: organize the Company, train its
men, and take them to war... all under your command,
If you think your tour in Vietnam was tough, figure out how
you would have handled that mission: you, a well meaning but
still wet behind the ears 2nd Lieutenant Signal OCS
graduate, being ordered to bring online a newly formed
Company of 250 or so Signaleers, ready and able to take to
the field in Guadalcanal or New Guinea, or someplace else, and accomplish its
Recognize… we’re not talking here of being sent from Signal
OCS to some already existing Signal Corps Company with a
seasoned Major in charge, a staff of Officers to support
him, and an existing complement of trained men. Instead,
we’re talking of you, a fresh Second Lieutenant, being tasked to build such a
company yourself—from scratch.
That’s what happened with a Company called the 138th Signal
Radio Intelligence Company. For those of you who have
forgotten, during WWII Signal Radio Intelligence Companies
had the task of intercepting messages sent by both our side
and the enemy and locating the sending apparatus through the
use of direction finding equipment. Mostly, this was done
through triangulation of the signals being intercepted.
Once a signal was intercepted, its strength measured, direction and source
identified and station identifiers either determined or
assigned, the message was analyzed, and the info gleaned
reported to those branches of service and units likely to
need the info. This might be ships at sea, local friendly
ground forces or armored units, or—as in the case of the
138th Signal Radio Intelligence Company—the Army Air Corps
unit they were assigned to support.
Typically, units like this were organized to operate as
individual, fully self-supportive Companies in the field…
under combat conditions. As a result, they maintained their
own motorized equipment, mess and field kitchens, as well as
headquarters and service platoons.
The Company we are talking of, the 138th, was a classic
radio intelligence company of the type one would have seen
during the early WWII period. It was constituted on 7 Feb
1942, at Fort George Wright, near Spokane, Washington. Of
interest to us is that it’s first Officer, as well as nearly
all of the Officers that eventually commanded it, were no
more than lowly little Army Signal Corps 2nd Lieutenants at
most fresh out of Army Signal OCS, with no command
experience to speak of. While newly formed, the
138th Signal Radio Intelligence Company went on to earn Campaign Streamers for its work in
World War II. They included streamers for the Asiatic-Pacific Theater, New Guinea from
1943-1944, Leyte from 1944-1945, and Luzon during 1944-1945.
It’s very first Officer was 2nd Lieutenant Felix M.
Marshall. A regular Army soldier of some thirteen years
before coming to the 138th, he had served with the engineers
in Panama for three years and received intensive training in
communication in the Coast Artillery Corps. He gained his
commission in the Signal Corps Reserve in 1941, prior to
which he had been a radio operator in fixed stations and a
member of combat crews in the Army Air Corps. This, the
Department of War thought, qualified him to set up a radio
Fortunately for Lieutenant Marshall, he didn’t have to do it
alone. On 1 May, 1942, only three months after he was
assigned command of the then newly formed 138th, he found himself welcoming
the first of many Army Signal OCS graduate helpers to come.
This first to arrive was
Harold G. Harbin, from Army Signal OCS Class
42-03. Having graduated from Signal OCS on February 27th,
less than 3 months earlier, Harbin originally hailed from
Arizona. His addition to the company proved critical, as
although his time with the unit was to be short, during his
time there he defined for Lt. Marshall the training programs
the Company would need to set up if it was to bring its as
yet mostly unassigned men up to speed.
Training in a constituted field unit, you ask? Doesn’t
training come before you are assigned to your field unit and
sent into combat?
Usually, yes. But at this time, at the beginning of WWII,
there were more Signal Companies in existence and staffed
with untrained men than there were Companies with trained
men. So, while the 138th had a defined mission—radio
intelligence gathering—the men being assigned to it had no
training in doing that kind of work. Just as in civilian
life, where running a company with unqualified personnel
means failing at the company’s mission, so too in the Army.
The only difference is that in civilian life a company’s
failure means bankruptcy (and likely tax debts too…), while
in war it means your side loses the war.
2nd Lieutenant Harbin understood this, and readily took to
his task of quickly training the men that were beginning to
be assigned to the unit to do their job.
Manpower wise, from its inception in February 1942 to the
day Signal OCS graduate Lieutenant Harbin arrived on May
1st, the Company had grown with fits and starts. It seemed
that no matter how many men were assigned to it, nearly as
many men were transferred out of it to other active units
already in combat.
When Lt. Harbin arrived he brought with him 93
additional men, and for a while it looked like things would settling
down. By the end of May, the Company’s total strength stood
at 202 Enlisted Men and 2 Officers.
Yet that wasn’t to be the case. By August of 1942 the Signal
Corps’ need for trained men—Officers included—had increased
even more. Across the entire Signal Corps, the need for more
men now greatly exceeded the
available supply, no matter what the MOS.
In part this need was driven by the rapid growth of the Army
Air Force, which in those days fell under the jurisdiction
of the Signal Corps. The result of this was that all signals
work required to keep the Air Force in the air and both
finding and fighting the enemy fell to Signal Corps support
units. These units, normally a constituted part of the
Signal Corps itself, ended up being assigned to the Army Air
Force. In terms of type, they included everything from
communication Companies to radar tracking, plotting and
signals intelligence units. It was this need that forced the
formation of the 138th in the first place.
As said above, the problem was that for the 138th, as fast
as men could be brought into the unit they were being pulled
out and reassigned to other companies located in the actual
theaters of war, where they were needed—whether adequately
trained or not—to do the fighting.
This is what happened to 2nd Lt Harbin. Within a few short
weeks of his arriving in the 138th on May 1st, he found
himself being promoted—on 11 August—to the rank of 1st Lt.,
at which point, within two more weeks—25 August, to be
exact—he found himself receiving orders to report to duty at
the 955th Radio Intelligence Company.
Just like that, the first Army Signal OCS graduate to join
the 138th found himself being reassigned, albeit this time
to a unit already in combat in the Pacific Theatre. The sad
fact is that in this capacity he eventually gave his life
for our country. Within little over a year after he
graduated from OCS. 1st Lieutenant Harold G. Harbin was KIA.
And the war went on…
For the 138th Signal Radio Intelligence Company, the men
arriving still needed training, and the Company formed,
organized and structured to accomplish its mission. To that
end, on 26 September, 2nd Lieutenants Gilmore, Turner and Belth joined the company. All graduates of
Army Signal OCS
Class 42-08, each must have felt some comfort in taking on
his first command with a couple of trusted friends at his
2nd Lt George W. Gilmore was given charge of the Wire
Platoon, while 2nd Lt Francis J. Turner was given charge of
the Intercept Platoon, and 2nd Lt Ira Belth assigned to the
Finding Platoon. Along with these new Officers also came 12
enlisted men, some of whom were immediately sent out to the
National Schools, Los Angeles, for urgent signal intercept
training. The remainder were sent along to the Headquarters
Infantry RTC, at Camp Roberts, California, for basic weapons
training, before being returned to the 138th.
For the most part, up to this point the enlisted men coming
in were fresh Army recruits, with only the most basic of
military training, and little to no Signal training. In most
cases they were assigned to the Signal Corps as Enlisted Men
because they had some sort of radio experience in their
civilian life… usually as Hams.
At the same time as this was happening the Signal Corps was
furiously building out its training programs at Fort
Monmouth, New Jersey. It was at about this time then that
the Signal Corps enlisted men training programs began to
spit out results. On 27 September 1942 the first small
contingent of properly trained enlisted men arrived from the
SCRTC facility in Fort Monmouth. While only 5 men, their
arrival nevertheless signaled that the U.S. Army Signal
Corps was beginning to catch up with its demand.
Work wise, in these early days of the Company’s existence,
the men were kept busy with typical military “make work.”
When not learning what an Army Signal Radio Intelligence
company did, and what their role within it was, they found
themselves marching around the parade field. As an example,
on 13 May, the company participated in a Post Parade, in
competition with other units. Proudly the unit’s history
files tell today of the fact that the Post Adjutant
at the time announced that the First Platoon of the 138th Signal Radio
Intelligence Company took honors for the parade, and “that
the organization as a whole made an excellent appearance.”
Little did they know how easy this life would turn out to be
when compared to the combat they would later face in the
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