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July 2017

— This Month —

Toys for Boys

–  Army Football and Laser Guns On Helicopters 

Camp Enoch H. Crowder, Missouri

The Home of Beetle Bailey and Camp Swampy   

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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 stimulate interest in those who visit it. They are solely the views 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 Association. If you have any suggestions for improvements to this site, please send them to We are here to serve you.



ArmySignalOCS Editor

Toys for Boys

If you’re a fan of football—and who among us is not—then you probably not only follow your local team, but some of the greatest rivalries too. And when it comes to rivalries, how about Michigan vs Ohio State? Or AlabamaAuburn? Can you beat those two?

I can hear it now, crackling on my Dad's old vacuum tube radio as we sat together out in the barn, the roar of the crowd and the announcer yelling into his mic... "Coming out of the south, rolling like a crimson tide..." Is there anything better than 'Bama against the Auburn Tigers?

Of course there is. It's the ArmyNavy game. Now there's a rivalry if there ever was one. In the end, the bestthe very bestfootball rivalry going has to be ArmyNavy.

And therein lies the problem.

If you are a fan of the Army–Navy football game, then just like the rest of us you have been worrying these past few years over what is going to happen to the game… the broadcasting of it, that is.

You see, to most of America this game is a non-entity. That is, the two teams are simply not that good, when compared to the other conference championship games being broadcast… which means that broadcasters—looking for the almighty advertising dollar—don’t want to broadcast the Army–Navy game. That being the case, Army–Navy game addicts like us face the real possibility that the game will be pulled off of the air. And if that happens, then what, pray tell, will we do?

Well, at least that has been the problem up until now. Now, as it turns out, a new contract has been signed between CBS Sports and the Army–Navy folks. The contract will assure that the game is broadcast through 2028. At this Editor’s age, that means I’ll be able to watch it until I’m 83... and that’s good enough for me.

With dwindling public interest, this all comes about because of a little trick that the Army–Navy people played. Back in 2009 they moved the game from being played during the week of college conference championships to the week after. This meant that the major networks that carried the college games wouldn’t have to drop their broadcasts of more popularand financially lucrativeteams in order to carry the Army–Navy game. With the move of the game to the week after the championship playoffs, they could now broadcast the Army–Navy game, while at the same time reaping the ad revenue rewards from the more highly rated conference games played the week before.

The truth be told, without this trick, folks like us might not be able to watch the Army–Navy game on TV, as ratings have been on the decline for many years now. For example, in the years before the move ratings dropped from a 3.0 in 2005 to an all-time low of 2.0 in 2008. Now, with the game being played the week after the college championships, there is effectively no competition for that weekend’s TV air time, as there are no other college football championships during the  time slot when the Army–Navy game is being played.

As it stands now then, with the deal signed with CBS, us Army zealots should be able to watch Army–Navy tough it out for years to come.

As to the terms of the 10 year deal, while they weren't disclosed what we do know is that CBS considers the deal “The most undervalued television deal in sports.” The current agreement, inked in 2008, costs CBS only about $5 million a year to run, while the money they make from advertising far exceeds that amount. One presumes the same will be true going forward 

From our perspective, the money issue is not what’s important. What’s important is that by continuing the tradition of televising the Army–Navy game America is keeping the spotlight on the compelling stories—both on and off the field—of the hard and patriotic work that is done by America’s Service Academies and the young men who pass through them… work that is done for our country. The story of the young people who train in these Service Academies, and then go on to serve our country in the the many wars we find ourselves engaged in, is one that needs to be told.

So, while it may seem a bit early for you to take the time now to mark the date of the next Army–Navy game on your calendarplease do it. And then remember to tune in on the second Saturday this coming December and watch the game. As we just explained, It will be the only top-tier college football contest on that day, and one you—an Army Signal Corps OCS graduate—should be watching… even if on occasion you find yourself ragging on those ring-knockers from the Point.

Remember, mark your calendar—the Army–Navy’s 118th matchup-rivalry, live from Philadelphia, this coming December 9th.


In the above video we've used General Eisenhower's speech to the American troops embarking on the D-Day invasion as a "Pep Talk" for the Army's Black Knights team. Enjoy it. Our thanks to the West Point Spirit Team for their cooperation in the use of the underlying video clip. Video length 00:37.




LH-64 Laser Weapons


Talking about Toys for Boys, how about this one; it's sure to make you wish you were young again and just exiting flight school:

Remember those days of flying over the quiet, sweet, serene countryside of Vietnam? The beauty of the cool landscape sweeping by below those whirling blades above your head? The tranquility and calmness of life without care or peril… that is, until out of the corner of your eye you spotted a flash from below?

Ah yes… a flash from below. What, je vous prie, could it be? What kind of thing could possibly cause those repetitive bright yellow flashes from the jungle canopy below? Or the orange ones that seem twice the size of your fist… hurtling ever upwards towards you while burning up the sky they pass through… coming on like rain from the ground, towards that chopper you're flying?

Now you remember! It's the enemy! Darn it, that's what's making the ruckus down there! The enemy!

Boy, wouldn’t it have been nice back then to have had a weapon with unlimited fire power? No limitation on either how many rounds you fired, or how far away the enemy was? Something with an instant response… something that struck the enemy in the flash of a second, rather than the 8 to 10 seconds it took for your rounds to hit the ground? Something that—by itself and without your aiming it—would spray an area of the ground and kill everything within a pre-programmed box... or rectangle, or trapezoid if that's what you wanted? And maybe even—just for the hell of it—do all of this without making a sound? As quiet as a church mouse?

Boy, wouldn't that have been neat.

Guess what? Your dream has come true. If tomorrow you saunter down to your local recruiter and try to get him to let you re-up again… maybe by telling him how good you were at flying helicopters back in the day, he just might sign you up for refresher training on an AH-64… but this time on one of the newer ones… one of the ones sporting a laser gun.

You see, last week (June 27) the Army successfully tested its new weaponized, laser gun equipped helicopter, at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.

Mark our words, this time the test wasn’t one of those “let’s give it a try, and if it works maybe some time 50 years from now we can develop one of these things.” Nope, this time the test marked one of the final assessments of a new fully integrated laser gun system intended to find service attached to rotary-wing aircraft.

The best news is that the weapon system passed the test. It proved the completeness of the laser gun system for use on helicopters, “over a wide variety of flight regimes, altitudes and air speeds.”

Functionally, the laser weapon, as it stands right now, looks like a gray, torpedo-like tube with a ball on the front. For the present it will be fitted to AH-64 Apaches. On each Apache the weapon will be attached to the right side of the fuselage. Cables will run from the back of the laser "gun-pod" into the interior of the helicopter, where they will connect to a control server that will provide the pilot with the needed digital and joystick control, targeting and triggering mechanisms.

Operationally, the purpose of last week’s experiment was to pass one of the final approval stages prior to release of the weapon system to the U.S. Special Operations Command. Their interest was in seeing how well the Apache could fire a laser-based weapon, given the vibration of the helicopter… not to mention the dust kicked up by the rotating blades. Known simply as a High Energy Laser, or HEL, there is still some development work left to be done, but for all practical purposes this baby is ready to go.

For those of you who may say that AH-64s have always had lasers, you’re right, but you’re wrong. The laser that exists on AH-64s today has in fact been around since the chopper’s launch in 1986. However, it’s not a kinetic weapon per se, but a targeting device that keeps Hellfire (AGM-114) anti-tank missiles on track as they wend their way towards the enemy. As they stand today—in their most basic form—in addition to Hellfire missiles and Hydra 70 general-purpose unguided 70 mm (2.756 in) rockets, Apaches have only one other weapon, a 30 mm M230E1 Chain Gun. Adding the world’s first laser gun to the ship will create one hell of a package.

Side fired lasersAs for the value of laser guns, they fire in an almost perfectly straight line, making them far more accurate than artillery or machine gun rounds… especially considering the shaking of the helicopter platform itself. Adding to this, they can be adjusted to destroy or disable multiple types of different targets, with greater precision over the damage done than one has with explosives based kinetic rounds. This is a major benefit in today’s war-world, as it will help the U.S. reduce civilian casualties and collateral damage in warfare. 

Continued at top of page,COLUMN AT RIGHT

Divorce Army Style


Vietnam Campaign Ribbons

This page last updated 7 July 2017. New content is constantly being added. Please check back frequently.

Update 7 July – Registered yet for the 2017 Reunion? No? How could you? It's time to settle down and do it now! Click here to see who has already registered, then click on the bottom of the page and register yourself! Do it now Smack! Go to Reunion Registration Page


Update 3 May Received a few pictures of Candidate Joseph E. Passantino, OCS Class 43-15, sent to the Association's Archivist, MAJ (R) Green, by his daughter, Ms. Beck. We've started a new "mini-bio" page for Candidate Passantino, and posted the pics we received there. Enjoy what we have by clicking here, and our thanks to Ms. Beck for providing the photos to us. 


Update 1 May Candidate Dennis Bielewicz, Class 09-67, sent in a couple of dozen pictures from his days in OCS. We' added them to his class page. Be sure to check them out here, and our thanks to Dennis for thinking of us. Hooah!

2017 Army Signal OCS Reunion

Continued from left column...

All told then, with a laser gun, instead of getting effective shots on target, via use of high-explosives to make a big bang (as in the case of a 30 mm cannon) that destroys everything around it, you can opt instead for surgical precision that allows you to present highly-localized and controlled effects on your chosen target, with almost no chance of collateral damage. Similarly, a laser gun allows a helicopter to act as a tactical aircraft within the combat zone itself, destroying equipment as well as people. Thus, with great accuracy a laser equipped helicopter can roam the combat zone destroying power generators, targeting radars and the like, without destroying the structures that surround them. The same is true for vehicles, which the gun can easily disable without killing anyone either within the vehicle or standing alongside of it.

Then there is the benefit of never running out of ammunition… not to mention the savings on the cost of artillery or cannon rounds. At a cost of a few thousand dollars each, saving on artillery round cost is not to be discounted.

Finally, with a laser’s ability to be tuned to various power levels for each shot, they can be used for almost any purpose required. A 10 kilowatt laser shot setting, for example, is perfect for destroying a mortar in midflight. Similarly, drones can be “beamed” out of the sky using as little as 5 kilowatts. At these power levels, even considering that the helicopter platform is vibrating its way through the air, laser mounted guns are extremely effective in taking down targets of this type.

In our view, the introduction of combat laser guns to helicopters is something that makes one wish for youth again. Ah for the days of youth and a chance to fly a helicopter again... an AH-64 to be exact, where with the simple touch of an old man's finger tip on an LCD cockpit display one can wipe out everyone and everything within a designated area of the ground. No more worrying about targeting… just designate a quadrant and let the laser do the rest.


Camp Enoch H. Crowder, Missouri

The Home of Beetle Bailey and Camp Swampy

Camp Crowder - U.S. Signal Corps

ABOVE: Students training in the Code and Traffic Section, Midwestern Signal Corps School, August 1942. (National Archives)

By Lieutenant Colonel Danny M. Johnson; USA-Ret.

The initial political support for a new Signal Corps Replacement Training Center came from Republican Congressman Dewey Short of Missouri in 1941, who sponsored legislative action on Capitol Hill for a signal training center in the foothills of the Ozarks. The Army broke ground for what became Camp Crowder on 30 August 1941, approximately three miles southeast of Neosho, in Newton County, Missouri. The post was named for MG Enoch H. Crowder (1859-1832), a native Missourian who attained fame as the author of the Selective Service Act of World War I. As the Provost Marshal General, he was responsible for the administration of conscription during World War I in the United States. Most of the land used for Camp Crowder was then rolling farmland, dotted with small orchards, corn fields, and modest farm homes. The first soldiers arrived on 2 December 1941, just ve days before the Pearl Harbor attack.

Major General Enoch CrowderCamp Crowder was originally designated to be a triangular infantry division training center. A civilian engineer, however, in Neosho studied the Crowder maps and saw that a Shell Oil Company pipeline cut right through what was to become the artillery impact areas. As a result, the original plans for Camp Crowder were scrapped. Soldiers and equipment from the Second Army that arrived from Fort Polk and Camp Beauregard, Louisiana, were soon on their way back to Louisiana because of the pipeline problem. Camp Crowder was turned over to the Signal Corps except for space for four engineer regiments. Over 352 new buildings were initially built at the camp, but that was not enough and soon more construction was needed.

Camp Crowder received most of the Army’s signal recruits, each of whom spent three weeks learning the basics of soldiering: drill; equipment, clothing, and tent pitching; first aid; defense against chemical attack; articles of war; basic signal communication; interior guard duty; military discipline; and rifle marksmanship.

Initially Camp Crowder was named the Camp Crowder Replacement Training Center. In July 1942, the Midwestern Signal Corps School opened its doors at Camp Crowder with a capacity of 6,000 students. The school was arranged into three main departments of study consisting of Radio, Wire, and Common Subjects Divisions. All new students except radio operators were instructed in basic shop work and the principles of electricity before undertaking specialist courses. The school ran two shifts a day in order to fully utilize scarce training equipment and limited classroom space. There was also an aircraft-warning course that lasted some twenty weeks.

The following month, the Signal Corps’ first unit training center also opened there. The headquarters established in October 1942 to administer this group of schools was designated the Central Signal Corps Training Center. The 800th Signal Training Regiment was located at Camp Crowder in the 1940s. This unit provided technical training in radio operations, radio repair, high power station operation, and maintenance.

By 1943, the War Department had acquired a total of 42,786.41 acres of land in Newton and McDonald Counties for Camp Crowder. In order to establish this camp, major improvements had to be made in roads, utilities, railroad spurs, sewage system, and numerous buildings including barracks, mess halls, and training facilities. The post exchange had twenty-two branches, with three beauty parlors for WACs and female civilian employees. The post also had two cafeterias for civilian workers. Camp Crowder had its own post newspaper called the Camp Crowder Message with a circulation of 15,000. There were also four service clubs on post along with guest houses for soldier’s guests.

Crowder had six movie theaters on post. There were sixteen chapels with a chaplain for each providing regular Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, and Christian Science services. The American Red Cross office was staffed with a field director and seven assistant directors. There were USO Centers in the nearby towns. Camp Crowder had its own large well-staffed hospital in addition to fifteen infirmaries and three dental clinics. There was a field house for athletic events and other activities that could seat 5,000 persons. The post laundry accommodated officer and enlisted personnel and was one of the largest laundries in the country. Enlisted personnel paid $1.50 a month for laundry.

After some initial shunning of soldiers from the camp, civilians in the surrounding communities took an interest in the soldiers at the camp. On many Sundays, soldiers were allowed to leave post to attend church and have Sunday dinner with families in the area. On post, the men formed athletic teams and received visits from celebrities who came as part of USO shows or just to stop off and greet the soldiers. Most of the soldiers who were trained at Camp Crowder went overseas, serving in both the European and Pacific theaters.

Camp Crowder activated signal units by the hundreds—not only signal companies and battalions for operations and construction missions, but also new types of units, such as aircraft-warning companies and battalions for radar-warning services to the Army Air Forces. Crowder also activated anumerous radio-intelligence and signal information and monitoring (SIAM) companies to support the Signal Corps’ large radio security and intelligence responsibilities. Then there were JASCOs—(Joint-Assault Signal Companies)—units created to meet the amphibious assault communications needs of joint Army/Navy operations. Force structure requirements were so pressing, and often arose so suddenly, that students were taken out of the schools, their course work incomplete, to fill requirements in new signal companies and battalions.

One totally unrelated mission besides signal training at Crowder was the training of band personnel. On 24 July 1943, two band training units were established by order of Army Service Forces Commander LTG Brehon Somervell. One was located at the Quartermaster Replacement Training Center, Camp Lee, Virginia, and the second at the Signal Corps Replacement Training Center, Camp Crowder. This training was intended only to orient qualified draftees on the mission and operation of an Army band. It did not include any courses designed to increase the individual’s instrumental proficiency. When it became apparent that the Camp Lee Training Center could handle the entire music program, the Camp Crowder training unit was discontinued in 1944.   

The beginning of World War II found the Army’s pigeon center located at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, where it had been since 1919. The Chief Signal Officer relocated the Pigeon Breeding and Training Center from Fort Monmouth to Camp Crowder in October 1942. This center, including its veterinary personnel which had just joined, moved to Camp Crowder where it remained until after V-J Day, when it was reestablished at Fort Monmouth.

Camp Crowder also housed some 2,000 Axis POWs. The first prisoners arrived on 6 October I943 and had been captured from Rommel’s forces in North Africa. Most of the prisoners were repatriated by the end of 1946.

Cartoonist and Beetle Bailey creator Mort Walker was stationed at Camp Crowder during World War II. The camp served as the inspiration for the fictional “Camp Swampy” in his long-running comic strip, which began in 1950. Hollywood actor Dick Van Dyke was stationed at Camp Crowder during the war as well, inspiring fictionalized events portrayed in Episode No. 6 of The Dick Van Dyke Show, “Harrison B. Harding of Camp Crowder, Mo.,” that aired on 6 November 1961 on CBS. Actor and producer Carl Reiner, who served in the Army with MAJ Maurice Evans’ Special Services unit during 1942-46, also spent part of his World War II days at Camp Crowder.

With the end of the war in 1945, activities at Camp Crowder began to wind down. In 1946, the camp was closed as a basic training site. For a short time, the camp was active as soldiers came there to be mustered out of the service. The impact of Camp Crowder’s establishment can only be matched by the impact of its closure. The millions of dollars spent locally by the government and soldiers almost disappeared entirely when World War II ended. In 1947, 29,407.633 acres of land was declared excess and sold to the public for agricultural use. The Missouri National Guard retained 4,358.09 acres for a training area.

Despite efforts to keep the camp active, Camp Crowder was never the same as it had been in World War II. During the Korean Conflict, the camp saw a slight rise in activity. Missouri already had Fort Leonard Wood, and there seemed to be little need for two active Army training facilities in the state. Crowder’s mission changed again in 1953 when it became a branch of the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks, remaining there until it closed in 1958.

In 1956, the Army transferred a portion of Camp Crowder to the Air Force for construction of a rocket engine manufacturing plant known as Air Force Plant No. 65. Construction of Plant 65 began in 1956, with operation beginning in 1957. For sixteen years, the Air Force tested engines for the Atlas, Thor, and Saturn rockets at Plant 65. In more recent years, Teledyne Industries and Sabreliner Corporation have used the facility to overhaul and test jet engines.

Most of Camp Crowder was inactivated in 1958 and declared surplus property in 1962. Eventually the Army moved out and the land was either returned to those farmers who had given up land for the camp or turned over to other government entities. Later, Crowder College was formed in 1963 and moved on to a portion of land the Army had vacated. The college still uses some of the buildings constructed for military use in the early 1940s.

Today, Camp Crowder has seen a remarkable rebound as a training site for members of the National Guard. The Missouri National Guard’s deployment for the Global War on Terrorism has been so large that its activated troops could not all be mobilized at Fort Leonard Wood, necessitating the use of Camp Crowder. Between 150 and 200 members of the l438th Engineer Company, based in Rolla, were the first troops since World War II to conduct mobilization exercises at Camp Crowder. Over fifty company-sized National Guard, active, and Army Reserve units have used Crowder for various purposes such as weapons qualification, engineer equipment training, and field combat exercises. In addition, Marine Corps Reserve personnel also currently use Camp Crowder for their training purposes.

Camp Crowder radio training

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lieutenant Colonel Danny Johnson, USA-Ret., is a private military scholar who has contributed to On Point and a number of other military publications. He specializes in World War I, World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War, and historic posts. He currently resides in Sacramento, California. 

The above article originally appeared in the Fall 2006 issue of ON POINT, on pages 33-35. ON POINT is a publication of The Journal of Army History, the Army Historical Foundation, Arlington, VA.



2017 OCS Reunioin List of Attendees

**REUNION ALERT**  Our Reunion is proving to be so popular that the Westin Dulles Airport Hotel is concerned about being sold out for that weekend.


The Room rate is still $109. Those who reserved earlier at the mistake-rate of $116 will have their bill adjusted and credited the difference at check-out. If the hotel sells out, they have an over-flow agreement with the hotel next door. Don't miss this opportunity to be a part of our best reunion ever.





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