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— This Month —
The Real Boogie Woogie
1966 - Vietnam - Staff Film Report Of Operations
Was It Really As Easy As
They Make It Look?
- - - - -
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.
Please note: The views
and opinions expressed on this website are offered in order to
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and expressions of the authors and/or contributors to this website
and do not necessarily represent the views of the Army Signal Corps
Officer Candidate School Association, its Officers, Directors,
members, volunteers, staff, or any other party associated with the
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please send them to
We are here to serve you.
This being August, and still the summer, we are
precluded from opining on the mess this world is
in. From terrorists running rough shod around
the world and no one doing anything about it, to
two near fools running for the Presidency; one a
big mouth with an ego that won't quit and a very
sketchy ability to understand what proper
behavior is in the 21st century, the other a corrupt liar
who, along with her husband (a former President
on top of that) have made a living out of conning
America at every turn... it almost makes one
want to put this whole damn election thing off for a
couple of years until the people in charge come
to their senses.
But hey, we promised... no more fulminating
diatribes... not for the summer anyway.
So this month we bring you more entertainment.
Below you will find some of the best "military"
music you've ever heard. Read our story about
V-Discs, and while you do, listen to the music
they carried. We think you will like it.
We've also got another movie for you. This month
it's a compilation of vignettes about life in
Vietnam. Originally produced by the Signal Corps
as a "Staff Film Report" back in 1966,
its purpose was to give those back in the DoD
in Washington some idea about how the Army was
going about fighting the war, and how all of the
pieces that make up an Army fit together to make
the whole thing work.
Not intended to highlight combat, it focused
instead on the kind and type of jobs the troops
did in order to support whatever tactics were
being pursued at that moment.
The movie starts out with the first "scene"
laying out for our friends back in Washington
the kind of things that go into a tactical
decision to take control over an area. This
particular area included the A Shau Valley (A
Sầu). In case you have forgotten,
the A Shau Valley is a valley in Vietnam's
Thừa Thiên–Huế Province, west of the
coastal city of Huế, along the border
with Laos. The first scene shows how troops
moved into the area to first set up a FOB, then
turn it into a Fire Base from which Search and
Destroy missions could be run.
Later, as the movie progresses, it shows you
typical military activities and functions as might be found in Vung
Tao, where radar and communications systems were
being set up. Similarly for Pleiku, Bien Hoa, Ton Son
Nhut, Tuy Hoa and other basis, Army operations
are shown throughout the movie.
Watch it, enjoy it, and while you are at it, enjoy
the rest of your summer too.
The Real Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy
Right about the time World War II
started, the American
Federation of Musicians went on strike, on July
31, 1942 to be exact. They were
looking for more money, to finance an unemployment fund for
musicians. At the time, musicians that played live music
were complaining that they were losing work because of
competition from other musicians who were playing for record
production companies… those guys making them new fangled
things called records... and so because they—the live
musicians—were losing work, they needed to start an
Along the way though, a strange thing
happened. As the strike progressed,
the supply of new recordings being made—and able to be sent
to the troops overseas—dwindled to almost nothing. Somehow,
the strike the live musicians were on affected the music
being produced by the recording industry musicians.
forgive us here for a second if we sound a little bit
cynical, but if the production of records slowed because
there were no recording musicians to make the records, it kind of
makes you think that the guys playing the music on the
records were the same guys that were playing the "live"
Either way, because of all of this the guys in
Europe and the South Pacific… the ones carrying weapons and
fighting Uncle Sam’s war, found themselves without
entertainment. No live musicians, no records being sent over
from loving wives back home... nothing. The only sounds they heard were those from M-1s,
Mausers and a few Bren guns thrown in for good measure… not the 78 RPM records they so
opportunity when he saw one, Robert Vincent, a sound
engineer and a Lieutenant assigned to the radio section of
the Army Special Services Division, a division of the U.S.
Army Signal Corps, polished his brass bars and approached
the War Department with the idea of recording music
especially for the troops overseas.
He must have been a good talker,
because he received approval from Washington in July, 1943,
to do just that. In no time at all he
was transferred to the music section of Army Special
Services, and put in charge of developing what became known
as the V-Disc program.
Glad to be supporting the war effort,
and likely just as glad not to be in a trench somewhere in
Europe, Lt. Vincent
jumped at the chance to line up
music artists and begin producing records.
The discs he produced were called V-Discs,
and the first batch that came off of the line were shipped on 1 October 1943, from the RCA Victor pressing
plant in Camden, New Jersey. Somewhat different than the 78
RPM records of the time, Lt. Vincent's V-Discs were larger than commercial
78s—12 inches instead of 10—and were cut with as
many as 136 grooves per inch, so that more than 6 minutes of
music could be placed on each disc (i.e. two songs). At the
time, the standard commercial disc had less than 4 minutes
This page last updated 7 August 2016.
New content is constantly being added. Please check back
– 234 years ago today, George Washington created the
Purple Heart. Not a badge of distinction for being wounded
in action, as many think it is, the
Purple Heart is a Badge of Merit.
As you browse our site
you may be finding that some of our animations are not
animating, and our music and video players aren't playing.
Or at least that's what you think. The truth is, everything
is working just fine... provided that you are using a 4 year
or older PC and browser, and running an equally as old
If on the other hand you
are using a Tablet or SmartPhone, or using a PC with Windows
10 or later, then the chances are that what you think is
happening is in fact happening. What's the reason, you ask?
It's because of a very strange
thing that happens with technology: over time it changes,
and the stuff that depends on it to work stops working until
changes are made to it too.
That's what's going on with our animations and
audio and video players. Most of them were coded years ago,
using a software known as "Flash", owned by a company known
as Adobe. As little as 3 years ago, using Flash on your
website was the way to go. Then along came Google and Apple,
who decided that Adobe's Flash was prone to malware. To make
sure that web viewers didn't have their PCs infected by
poorly written Flash code, Google and Apple disabled Flash
programs from running in their browsers. This caused Flash
based animations, audio and video players to stop working
By itself this wasn't a big problem, as users
could bypass this restriction by downloading and installing
a "plug-in" for their PC. The plug-in would allow Flash
programs to run properly again.
And so everything was fine for a while, until
Tablets and SmartPhones came along. With these devices
another problem popped up. In their case new code had to be
written so that the webpages that worked on PCs would now
work on Tablets and SmartPhones. Essentially, what was
needed was a new form of "Responsive" coding that would let
any HTML file work on any device. This new type of code
revolved around something called HTML5.
Adding to this was the fact that Google and
Apple decided to make their own Operating Systems (Android
and iPhone OS) for use on Tablets and SmartPhones... and
when they did this, this time they completely disabled Flash
animation from ever running on their systems. Q.E.D.
So, with Flash completely banned for portable
devices, HTML code needing to be upgraded to HTML5, new
coding needed for Responsive web pages, and Android and
iPhone OS systems to contend with, webmasters around the
world soon found themselves having to upgrade the near entirety
of all of their sites. [BTW, that low moan you hear in the background is the
sound of us webmasters lamenting the workload we now have in
front of us.]
In our case this means an awful lot of work.
Among other things it means we now have to
check coding on 13,092 files, 8,513 animated and
non-animated graphic images, 12,880 HTML
files that have not been HTML5 code verified yet, and
10s of thousands of links that have not been manually tested
in the past 12 months.
How does this affect you, you ask?
For the most part, it doesn't. If you are
looking at our website using a PC, the chances are that
everything is working just fine. If however you are sitting
at the bar, having a cold beer, and looking at our website
on your SmartPhone or Tablet, then likely as not some of our
older Flash animation is not working, and the music you want
to listen to won't play. If so, bare with us. After
all, as a former member of the 518th Signal Company we have
a "Can Do" attitude!
See, now don't you wish you had volunteered for
– We found a bunch of pictures sent to us long ago
about Candidate Erling Jensen. Candidate Jensen
graduated in OCS Class 42-05, on June 3, 1942. That means
that unlike many OCS gradates who graduated towards the end
of WWII, and spent their time in Europe after the war had
already ended, doing clean up work, Erling was in the thick
of it. One of the photos in his collection shows a military
record of his assignments. Erling served in the Tunisian
campaign, as well as in the Normandy landing, the Northern
France Campaign, and each of the battles of the Ardennes,
Rhineland and Central Europe. As a Signal Officer he carried
more than his share of the load. While all we have of his
story is what is in the pictures we found, Candidate Erling
Jensen epitomizes what this website's attempt to archive the
stories of all who graduated Signal OCS is all about...
capturing the heart and soul of those who fought for
America. Click here to see his mini-bio page.
Continued from left column...
Technical issues aside, Lt. Vincent worked hard to
get the best talent in the music industry on his discs. To
do this he set up shop on Third Avenue and East 42nd Street,
in New York, and with each singer, band leader or musician
he talked to, he personally negotiated terms that included
each “talent” agreeing to waiver all of his/her/their fees
and royalties, for the benefit of the troops.
sure there was no backlash from the producers that normally
raked in the real money from each recording, he
worked out a deal with the recording companies and unions,
including the striking American Federation of Musicians. The
deal guaranteed that the V-Discs
produced would be for the use of military personal only, and
would not be made commercially available. Further, to make
sure the prodigious number of records he intended to cut did
not hurt the producer’s future profits, he talked the War
Department into agreeing that after the war was over the
V-Discs would not be declared military surplus and sold to
but instead considered government property to be destroyed
once the war ended, along with the masters.
The result was the production of 905
individual V-Discs. Issued from October 1943 thru May 1949,
they covered the gamut of the kind of music soldiers
listened to back then, with each bearing a number from 1 to
Not to be outdone, the Navy began
their own production of Navy V-Discs, from July 1944
thru September 1945. Being the Navy however, they only
managed to produce 275 recordings… what can you expect out
of a bunch of guys with bellbottom trousers?
In our music player below we
offer a sample of a dozen songs from the 905 individual recordings that the
Army produced... and remember, on those recordings each side
held two songs... so there were over 1,800 songs produced.
As you listen to what we have below
for you, scratches and all, remember that the
music is a product of its time. That is, it's not just good to
listen to, it's also the same music your dad listened to. As
you hear it, it is creating the same tangible effect on your ear drums
as it did on your dad’s when he first heard it.
When you listen to this music, you are listening to
your dad’s past.
Historical facts cited above adapted
from: Sears, Richard S. V-Discs: A History and
Discography, Greenwood Press, 1980.
Like this music and want to hear more?
Click on our
Music Archive link in the column at far left
to hear another 60+ V-Disc recordings.
1966 was a big year for operations in
Vietnam. It's not surprising then that the film below was
shot during that year. As we said in our Editor's column at
left, the movie below provides a compilation of vignettes
about the kind of things that took place in Vietnam in 1966,
to support the various operations that were being
If you've forgotten how busy it was
back then, consider this:
"At the beginning of 1966, the number
of U.S. military personnel in South Vietnam totaled
184,314. South Vietnamese military forces totaled 514,000
including the ARVN and the Regional
Popular Force ("Ruff-Puffs") militias. The North
Vietnamese army numbered 400,000, most still in North
Vietnam. 50,000 North Vietnamese cadre and soldiers
infiltrated South Vietnam during 1965.
Group 559, charged with transporting supplies down the
Ho Chi Minh Trail to supply communist troops in both South
Vietnam and Laos, numbered 24,400 personnel. The U.S.
estimated the number of Viet Cong and North
Vietnamese Army (PAVN) soldiers in South Vietnam at
nearly 280,000 by June 1966, including part-time
[Quotes and statistics courtesy Wikipedia]
January 1966 kicked off with a
• In January the Viet Cong and
North Vietnamese bombarded a Special Forces Civilian
Irregular Defense Group at Khe Sanh.
This was followed by Operation Crimp also
known as the Battle of the Ho Bo Woods, just north of Cu
Chi. Operation Masher followed that, an operation that
included combined U.S., South Vietnamese and Korean troops,
in Binh Dinh province.
• In February the Battle of Suoi Bong Trang
took place. Part of Operation Rolling Stone, it took place
in the vicinity of Tan Bihn, in central Binh Duong
Province, 30 clicks northwest of the Bien Hoa
• March saw the Battle of A Shau, a bloody two
day fight that saw the fall of the Special Forces camp at
• In April Premier Ky sent five battalions of
ARVN rangers and South Vietnamese marines to Da Nang to
quell a Buddhist uprising. Not wanting to get involved in
religious warfare among our allies, Westmoreland ordered
that all American soldiers in Da Nang be confined to their
Yet try as he might his tactic
didn't work. On April 9 a platoon of U.S. Marines was forced
to deploy to block the passage of a convoy of pro-Buddhist
ARVN soldiers en route to take over Da Nang airbase itself.
The armed confrontation was resolved after negotiations
between the two sides, but still, from that point on no one
could be sure just who our real ally was: the local
government or the local Buddhists.
Later that month the Battle
of Xa Cam My took place. It sprang out of a Search and
Destroy mission in a rubber plantation of that name, 68
clicks east of Saigon. Within two weeks this was followed
with Operation Birmingham, which took place in War Zone C,
north of Saigon.
April finally came to an end with
Operation Beaver Cage, a joint U.S. Marine Corps and U.S.
Navy Operation in North Vietnam, along the coastline of
the Bon Hai river.
• May saw the
pro-Buddhist Struggle Movement (that wanted Thieu and Ky
replaced) take control of Da Nang and its surrounding
countryside. In the process U.S forces found themselves
holding off first Buddhists, then ARVN forces, then
Buddhists again as the line of control over the city of Da
Nang swayed back and forth. Eventually the government
of South Vietnam regained full control over Da Nang. By then
though 23 Americans had been wounded in the process and
countless Buddhists self immolated.
• Compared to all of this, June 1966 was a
quiet month with only one uprising and only a couple of
small Search and Destroy Operations taking place. As for the
uprising, once again it was headed by a crowd of
pro-Buddhist demonstrators. This time they stormed the
U.S. Consulate in Hue and set it on fire, trying to make
their point to the U.S. government that by backing Thieu and
Ky we were backing two corrupt, incompetent men. While small
by combat engagement standards, the optics of this did not
bode well for the war back home in America. Most Americans
did not think that sending their sons to fight against
Buddhists was what this war should be all about.
• The first week in July saw combat
operations getting back to normal. Operation Hastings began
on July 7, and carried on well into August. It was an
attempt by our side to engage enemy troops in the Cam
Lo area. The goal was to strike through the DMZ into the Cam
Lo area, and take permanent control of that part of Quang
• In conjunction with this, August saw
the launch of Operation Prairie. Its purpose was to
eliminate North Vietnamese Army forces south of the DMZ.
This particular Operation, although it began in August,
dragged on until October.
A week after Operation Prairie
started, the 5th Battalion of the 33rd Regiment, along with
the South Korean 3rd Battalion of the 1st Cavalry Regiment,
began OperationĐức Cơ. Also known as the Battle of Đức Cơ,
it proved to be a major engagement that harried the NVA
trying to infiltrate into the
Đức Cơ border area from Cambodia.
With this already underway,
the Battle of Long Tan was fought in yet another rubber
plantation near the village of Long Tần, about
twenty seven clicks northeast of Vung Tau.
• September saw Operation Attleboro,
a Search and Destroy Operation run by the 196th Light
Infantry Brigade, from... you guessed it, Attleboro,
• October was quiet, just a few small
Search and Clear Operations. Strangely, almost to make the
point that the year's fast paced effort to flatten the enemy
via helicopter born combat operations wasn't working. U.S.
Secretary of Defense McNamara released a memorandum to the
President saying that while communist forces had suffered
60,000 killed that year, "there is no sign of an impending
break in enemy morale and it appears that he can more than
replace his losses by infiltration from North Vietnam and
recruitment in South Vietnam."
He continued: "enemy...forces...are
larger; terrorist and sabotage have increased in scope and
intensity; more railroads and highways cut; the rice crop
expected to come to market is smaller; we control little, if
any, more of the population...in the countryside, the enemy
almost completely controls the night."
When Eisenhower got wind of this
memorandum he criticized President Johnson for "hesitation,
indecision, and even timidity." What Eisenhower was saying,
although he never put it in writing, was that the only way to
win this war was to take it to the enemy... the
enemy's capital city and homeland—to invade the North and
reduce Hanoi to, as people used to say in those days, a
• November was even more quiet than
October. Combat Operations had run their course and proved
ineffective. Instead government leaders back in the States
began to wrap their heads around how to end this thing.
• December closed out 1966 with the
kind of indecision Johnson was famous for. The only thing
that came out of this month was a lot of data: MACV
estimated that the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese forces in
the South numbered 282,000. The CIA said "the number of Viet
Cong [alone] is closer to 600,000 and perhaps more."
The Selective Service System chimed in to tell everyone that
they had drafted 382,010 men into military service in 1966.
By comparison, in 1962, they only managed to get 82,060 men
under their thumb.
The truth was, back in 1966 the
people that ran this war didn't have a clue what
the hell they were doing. Not the President, not his
cabinet; not Congress and certainly not the Generals
fighting the war.
Enjoy the movie below. It'll bring
back memories. Don't be surprised though if the strangely
quiet, peaceful, almost lethargic pace at which life in
Vietnam is shown in this 1966 movie brings a hint of feeling that
maybe, just maybe, the mental state that prevailed in the minds of
our country's leaders at the time was just as lethargic.
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