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November 2014

— This Month —

Signal Corps Success: How Two Signal OCS Men
Helped Win The Battle Of The Pusan Perimeter

Get It Straight: It's Communicate, Move, Shoot
Not  Shoot, Move, Communicate


Applying The Lessons Of Vietnam To The War On ISIS

Why It's Important To Get The War Against ISIS Right


Vietnam Flashback

When The Jungle Went Silent, You Were In Trouble

- - - - -


Our Association is a not-for-profit fraternal organization. It's 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.


Signal Corps Success: How Two Signal OCS Men Helped Win The Battle Of The Pusan Perimeter

Rather than watching the above video in this small size, we recommend you click here to view it at full size: View Pusan Perimeter campaign video

Get It Straight: It's Communicate, Move, Shoot; Not  Shoot, Move, Communicate

The glory jobs in the Signal Corps during the Korean War were few and far between. Most of the work that had to be done was grunt work… setting up communication links, running wire and trying to keep the circuits open while incoming fire ripped up cables along the road, as well as the men laying them. If you were part of a Signal Construction Company, your job was especially difficult, as you moved with the flow of the war and often that flow moved without you. That is, it was usually the Signal boys in the Signal Construction Companies that were the last to find out that a unit had moved, and was now in desperate need of communication.

532nd Signal Construction CompanyLieutenant David S. Howard, a graduate of Army Signal Corps OCS Class 44-40 was the Commanding Officer of just such a company. Assigned to the 532nd Signal Construction Company, he spent his waking hours trying desperately to meet the needs of Staff Officers literally crying for communication service. During his sleeping hours he fought his way through nightmare after nightmare, trying to find solutions that would meet everyone’s needs.

The unit he was assigned to, the 532nd, arrived in Korea on July 10, 1950. As we tell this story further we will speak of the 532nd Signal Construction Company as though it was the only Signal Construction Company that served during the entire Korean War. Clearly, that was not the case. In fact there were 2 Signal Construction Battalions and at least 3 other Signal Construction Companies that served, not to mention a total of 62 Signal Corps units of one form or another.

Yet the 532nd was unique. It was unique because of its early arrival in the war, and its association with Eighth Army Headquarters. Because of this it was often looked to as the first source for help by Eighth Army when things needed to be done. And as a result, as you will see in this article, it played an important role in not only helping win the Korean War but also defining a new form of tactical combat that theretofore had never existed. With this in mind, we ask the reader to forgive us if we speak in this article of the 532nd as though it was the only Signal Construction Company in the Korean War. It wasn't... it was just one of the best damned Signal Companies that ever existed, and it was headed by a U.S. Army Signal Corps OCS Graduate.[1]

We begin then with the 532nd Signal Construction Company, and its Company Commander, Lieutenant Howard. Considering that the war started on June 25, 1950, Lt. Howard’s unit was Johnny On The Spot when it came to being among the first to get in country, set up shop and begin supporting the troops. Being a HQ Support Company, as can be imagined, as soon as they arrived they began getting calls for phones to be installed in Eighth Army Headquarters… calls from frantic, frustrated Staff Officers, every one of which claimed a priority need to have a phone installed so that he could do his job.

Normally, stringing wire and hooking up phones would have been child’s play for Lt. Howard’s men. However, since only a few of the 532nd’s switchboards had arrived in country along with the men, the number of drops (lines) available to connect to phones was less than the demand Eighth Army HQ was creating. That being the case, all the men could do was string wire and hope for the best.

To try and keep the peace and make everyone think that phone service would soon be available, they strung the wire they had and then connected phones to these same dead ended wires. But that didn’t work. When Officers came along and saw a phone with a wire connected to it, they tried to use it. Finding no one on the other end of the line, they filled out a service order. All that did was add to the work Lt. Howard’s men did, as they ran around double checking whether the phone that was reported as being inoperative was or wasn’t one of the dead ended wire drops.

To get around this problem, and having more wire than phones, Lt. Howard’s Signaleers decided instead to simply string the wire to where it was needed, drop it on the floor next to the desk or spot where the phone would eventually be set, and move on. That way, when they got a call about a bare ended piece of wire missing a phone, they were pretty sure it was that way because it was supposed to be that way… and it would stay that way until more switchboards arrived.




Applying The Lessons Of Vietnam To The War On ISIS

War Has Sharp Edges

Why It's Important To Get
The War Against ISIS Right

Regular readers of this website know that we criticize President Obama at nearly every turn. In our view, his temperament, education, world experience, leadership, decision making, understanding of economics, perseverance, patience, oratory skills, personal view of what America is, and presence on the world stage are simply not up to the task of being the President of the largest, best and only Super Power left on Planet Earth. He doesn’t have what it takes.

That’s our normal view of him. Over the past month or so however he seems to have righted himself a bit. For the moment, he seems to be making shrewd decisions with respect to what America should do about ISIS, or more properly put, Islamic fundamentalists that want to carve a spot for themselves—in the form of a Caliphate or religiously based country—in society’s fraternity of nations.

Let us explain why we say this, for us, positive thing about President Obama.

Fighting Over Imaginary FriendsWhat we think we see coming from our President is a U.S. government policy, in the process of being crafted before our eyes, whose purpose is to deal with ISIS, where the principles that policy is based on—whether recognized by the world or not, and whether intended or not—reflect lessons America has had the chance to learn about its past wars, but hasn’t applied. That is, whether he knows it or not, President Obama is crafting a policy to deal with ISIS that seems to be doing exactly what we as a nation should be doing, if… say… as an example… America were to apply the lessons of Vietnam to the war against ISIS.

To prove our point, let us take you through an exercise here to show you that what President Obama is doing may not only be good for America, but reflect America’s lessons from history. And since above we used the analogy of “lessons to be learned from the Vietnam War”, we will use the Vietnam War as a comparative in gauging the correctness of President Obama’s actions today.

To do that, in this article we’ll:

• Analyze the causes of the Vietnam War (note that “causes” is plural),

• Draw from that exercise conclusions as to where and why the Vietnam War ended the way it did, and then

• Apply those lessons to this potential new war against ISIS, and see how the policy under development in fact seems to be applying these lessons in a way that should help America achieve her goals vis a vis ISIS, and avoid the humiliation of an outcome like that of Vietnam. 

Be aware however, as we talk of the lessons of Vietnam and the needs a war against ISIS will hold, we will not be talking of the tactics of war. Instead we will be talking of strategy—war strategy on a national scale, of the type that involves socio-political factors that, no matter how valiantly a country’s army fights, determine whether the war being engaged in goes well or ends up a failure.

As our key reference point then, we will look at the cause of the Vietnam War and compare how it developed and slid to its ignominious end with what will more likely than not happen with ISIS if the same socio-political mistakes are made. Make no mistake, we surely know that President Obama is not attempting to apply the lessons of the Vietnam War to his dilemma with ISIS. In fact, let us say in our typically snarky way, we would be surprised if he even knows that America fought in Vietnam. Regardless. For whatever reason or motive, what he appears to be doing is applying lessons we as a nation should have learned by now from the Vietnam War, and that is good.

So let us let him have credit for what he is trying to do… this one time, anyway. And let us get behind him and support the socio-political strategy he seems to be crafting.

Retelling The Vietnam Story

For us to make our case though, we will have to retell you not only how the Vietnam War came about (from our perspective), but why it was fought the way it was and how socio-political elements that existed during the various stages of the Vietnam War impacted the decision making that caused that war to be pursued the way it was.

In the process we will identify the factors that caused Vietnam, as a war, to begin in the first place, and then be lost, as well as how these same factors are at play with regard to ISIS today.

To help you see the correlation, we will label each and every one of these factors as “Failure Factors”. With these Failure Factors clearly identified, it will be easy for us to see how President Obama’s policies with respect to how he will take on ISIS seem to be trying to avoid these negative propensities. If we are successful in our effort, hopefully, by the end of this article, we will have demonstrated to you not only that America’s approach to ISIS seems to reflect logic—whether the proponents of it recognize this or not—as well as why America failed in Vietnam.

To begin, let us start with a synopsis of the history  behind the start of, and the conducting of, the Vietnam War.

Tan Son Nhut - VietnamFor most of us the Vietnam War began the day we stepped off of the Pan American Boeing 707 (filled with other "Cherry" soldiers like us) that brought us to Ton Son Nhut. For others, sensitive to the path their life was taking, it began when they got their Greetings letter from Uncle Sam… or at some small town railroad or bus station in middle America, when they kissed their girlfriend for the last time before boarding and heading for basic training to some Army base they never heard of, in a State far away. 

Why is this so? Why is it that there is no clear cut date that rings in our memories as the day the Vietnam War started? Why is it that for all of us who fought in it that war it began at some date and time that is personal to us, and not some nationally recognized date?

Continued at top of page, COLUMN AT RIGHT


After 40 years...


Vietnam Campaign Ribbons

This page last updated 3 November 2014. New content is constantly being added. Please check back frequently.

Update 3 November 2014 The association needs a couple (maybe three) class coordinators who intend to attend the reunion in San Antonio next year... to verify addresses... to encourage others to join them there... etc. So the question is, who is going against all training to volunteer for the "job"... Don't let the "silence" be deafening!! Contact MAJ (R) Richard Green TODAY! Army Signal OCS Class 09-67 - Sterling & Bradley

Update 1 November 2014 A new Class Photo for OCS Class 66-04 has been sent in and posted. This one has the names of all of the candidates shown on it. Be sure to check it out! Army Signal OCS Class 09-67 - Sterling & Bradley

Update 1 October 2014 COL (R) Earl Tingle, Class 09-67, sent along a picture of our fellow classmate Kent Sterling, who passed away in April of this year. In it Pete Bradley is also shown. Pete died in 2009. How young our fellow classmates are, to die so soon! Such good men all. Honesty, integrity, intellect, kindness, compassion, true friends never to be forgotten, true American heroes. The kind of men we all long to be, even in these advanced years of ours. Honorable beyond measure. See their picture here: Army Signal OCS Class 09-67 - Sterling & Bradley

Update 1 October 2014 Bill Dismukes has just signed on as the Army Signal OCS Class Coordinator for 04-66. If you are from Bill's class, click here to send him a note and let him know how to get in touch with you. SUPPORT YOUR CLASS! 

Update 1 September 2014  Regular readers of our website know that we often provide "linkable" reference documents as background material in support of some of our articles. Beginning this month you can gain access to an archive of these documents by clicking on the "Document Library" link in the menu list in the upper left margin. You'll be surprised, some of these documents are more interesting than our original article!  Check them out! New documents will be added as we publish more stories. Enjoy!




Continued from left column... 

Part of the answer is the fact that, unlike so many wars America has fought, there was no starting date for the Vietnam War. That is, we know that the American Revolution began with two battles on the same day, in Lexington and Concord, in 1775... and so we have a starting date for when the American Revolution began. So too for WWII, with the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 11, 1941, being universally recognized by America as the starting date of that war for us. And so too for the Korean War, which began when the North invaded the South in June 1950. But nothing like that exists for the Vietnam War. Why, and what difference does this make?

The answer as we all know is that nothing ever happened to the U.S. to cause it to wake up one morning and say, let’s go to war against North Vietnam. That’s why there was no starting date. There was no starting date because Vietnam never did anything to hurt us. Instead, socio-political factors caused America to create the Vietnam War out of causal issues of little relevance to the United States. In effect, we created the Vietnam War out of thin air.

How so, you ask? We did so by allowing global socio-political factors to cause America’s leaders to take ever increasing hard lines against issues only remotely related to Vietnam… issues that unbeknownst to those leaders quietly, but inexorably, caused the U.S. to embark on an incremental slide towards a political footing that would one day force America to underwrite a war in Vietnam.

Let us label this factor Failure Factor #1. And let us define it as a country not recognizing that the cumulative and/or follow on effect of its response(s) to seemingly unrelated global factors can in fact drive that nation to war. We will show you how this happened in Vietnam, but for the moment let us just say that clearly, the way America has handled the Middle East, its several wars in Iraq, the wrong footed response we made to the Egyptian spring movement, and the Iranian spring movement, and the Iranian nuclear development issue, and the battle in Syria for dominance of that little hot spot of religious intolerance, and on, and on, have all had a cumulative effect leading to the creation of the mess that now exists with ISIS.

In other words, as you will soon see, the Middle East is composed of a multiplicity of seemingly unrelated causal factors not that much different than those that drove us to war in Vietnam. Likely as not then, if we do not apply the lessons of Vietnam—i.e. understand and work to stop the cumulative effect of unrelated causal factors from driving us towards war—we will end up in the Middle East in exactly the same spot we found ourselves in in Vietnam.

Some of you might ask how it is possible that we let so many of these causal factors develop themselves into so many mini-crises on our watch; or how can America have performed so ineptly for so long that we have made things worse in the Middle East than they were before we stuck our nose into that part of the world a dozen years ago? Or even, how is it possible that ISIS is now claiming control over most of the territory of a country that America, only a few very short years ago claimed was—thanks to our help—truly free and well founded, and able to offer its people a glorious future? How is it so that Iraq is now in the mess it is in?

Read more... 




Vietnam Flashback

Spiro AgnewHow could we forget this guy? Spiro Agnew. He blasted critics of Nixon's presidency and the Vietnam War with fierce yet precise English. His alliteration alone made the headlines… phrases like "supercilious sophisticates," "vicars of vacillation" and "pusillanimous pussyfooters" made many bend over with laughter while others of us were in awe of his command of our language. A man who hated intellectuals, but clearly reveled in being one himself, Spiro Agnew was without doubt Nixon’s point man in dealing with the anti-war and anti-America crowd. More importantly though, he not only did a great job at it, but loved playing the role.

Yet it wasn’t his in your face attitude towards war protestors that did him in, it was his behavior just prior to taking national office that did it… that, plus the fact that he was a steadfast and loyal supporter of Nixon... to a fault. Yes, it’s true… sometimes loyalty goes too far and becomes a fault in its own right. It did in the case of Vice President Spiro Agnew.  

Thinking he would take one for the team, Agnew recognized that the Watergate fiasco would bring his boss down if he didn’t do something to deflect the country’s focus. Stepping forward… with Nixon gently prodding him from behind, he publicly announced in 1973 that the Justice Department was investigating bribery accusations against him, from the time when he was governor of Maryland.

Later he was indicted. Saying that he had “nothing to hide,” he pleaded no contest rather than face his time in court. A lawyer himself, he knew exactly what he was doing. Rather than drag the country down in a felony trial, he accepted a $10,000 fine and a sentence of probation. To Agnew $10,000 was pocket change.

Agnew's fall did little to help his boss. As we all know, Nixon ended up resigning a year later.

As for Agnew, eventually the role of Earl of Kent that he played to Nixon's King Lear got to him, and he decided that the loyalty he had offered by falling on his sword wasn’t worth the damage his reputation had taken. To remedy his misguided role of honor, in a book published in 1980 he claimed that he had been innocent but resigned under pressure from Nixon.

One will never know. Was Agnew one of those who’s loyalty was too great for his own good, or was he one step too clever for himself? Either way, when our current Vice President Biden comes to the dais, it’s hard not to see the face of Spiro Agnew behind him… laughing at Biden’s butchering of the English language, his inability to express himself concisely, and his penchant for keeping the tradition alive that some of America’s greatest clowns have been Vice Presidents.

Spiro Agnew died at 77 in 1996.

On the audio track above we begin with a song sure to bring back memories of your time in Vietnam—Yellow River, by Christie—and follow it with one of Spiro Agnew’s most memorable speeches. In his speech he eviscerates… linguistically anyway… war protestors. From there we segue into a couple more songs from the Vietnam era (The Everly Brothers in Crying In The Rain, and Freddy Fender's inimitable Before The Next Tear Drop Falls). Towards the end of Freddy Fender's song (at 08:49) we layer on top of it a radio call for fire support. If you listen closely you'll hear the guys on the ground begging the Navy Phantoms to drop their munitions on the right side of the road, where the VC are. True to form, the Phantoms drop their napalm and bombs on the left... or as we used to say back then, "been there, done that".  

Blue Eared BarbetAs the call for fire support fades into the background the recording segues into the sounds of the jungle in Vietnam, at night. If you listen closely you will hear the calls of two of the more distinguished jungle residents from back then: the Blue Eared Barbet and the Tokay Gecko Lizard. We include them here because they sang as sweetly as Agnew... precise in their tones and alliteration.

The Tokay Gecko is a nocturnal arboreal lizard. They were plentiful in the jungles of Vietnam during the war, and grew to upwards of 16 inches in size. Being a nocturnal species, they have slit pupils which, in dim light, expand to fill most of their eyes. As you know, all geckos have the ability to change color, lighter by day and darker during the night. The Tokay Gecko does just the the opposite: his color is a dark grey-green with orange-red spots when in light surroundings, changing to light grey with bluish spots when he's in the dark. 

Tokay GeckoWhile they do not hang out together, if you spent any time in the jungle at night you began to notice that when you heard the bird you also heard the gecko. So much so that you soon began to think they were talking to each other. Every night, all night long, they called out to each other. Sometimes it was about the only sound you heard during the still of the night and it was both eerie, scary and comforting. If you were on a search and clear mission and spent the night in the jungle you looked forward to these sounds... as they meant you were safe.

Either way, once you heard them you never forgot them. The croaks and whistles stayed with you forever... even until today. So much so that it's not unusual for some of us 70 year old Vietnam Vets to wake up even today, in the middle of the night, in a cold sweat, wondering why the bird and the gecko have stopped calling to each other. And there we lay, with the distinct feeling that once again we have dozed off when we are supposed to be awake.

Why do these flashbacks still come after all these years?

It's not that the bird or the gecko's call was so unique that we needed to hear it to sleep... that wasn't the point. The point was that when you stopped hearing it, that is, when the jungle went silent, you knew you were in trouble.

Then there was that other part of their call too... the part that made you think that when they called out they were calling out to you, personally. Let us explain.

The Blue Eared Barbet, nothing more than a small bird, called out with a sing-song that sounded like he was saying 'Re-up." If you served in Vietnam, you know what Re-up means.

The lizard on the other hand had the best response a man could ever have to that bird's call. He called out FAAACUEEE….

Between the two of them, the Re-up Bird and the Fa-cue Lizard, as long as they were talking to each other all night long, everything was fine. Charlie wasn't around.

As for what the sounds were like, most would say that the bird sounded more like a frog than a bird, and many mistook him for some sort of jungle frog. But he wasn't... he was a bird... a jungle bird that called out in a deep baritone voice, all night long: Reeee-up….Reeee-up.

The lizard on the other hand sounded like he was taking a breath, had taken in too much air, and was quickly exhaling it. His first syllable rose in pitch... with a sound that after time seemed like he was saying FAAA. The second syllable then fell back to his starting point... CUuee, in a most emphatic manner. Up and down, back and forth, all night long, they talked to each other this way... with the bird calling out Reeeee-up and the gecko answering FAAAAA-CUEE.

The sound of safety... just a jungle bird and a lazy lizard, talking to each other all night.


My thoughts exactly.

For those of you that can't distinguish the call of these animals in our recording above, the Blue Eared Barbet makes its first audible appearance at the 09:47 time mark and sings until 09:57, and then repeats himself in a few more seconds. The Tokay Gecko comes in at 10:12 and calls out until 10:17, followed again by the Barbet, with a final answer coming from the gecko.

To round out our recording, the sounds of the jungle fade into a song from back then by Loretta Lynn; Dear Uncle Sam. This is followed by one more of Agnew's famous speeches. In this one, which runs 11:24 he takes on the American Press and tears them to shreds for their biased news coverage. It's worth listening to in its entirety... as much of what he says applies to today's press too... especially that which we see on TV every day.


e f

What is past is prologue...

November Crossword Puzzle

Army Signal CorpsTheme: Afghan War AcronymsArmy Signal Corps

Hint: Join 2, 3 and 4 word answers together
as one complete word.


[1] About the 532nd: Constituted and activated in England as the 3251st Signal Service Company on 27 April 1944, the Company participated in the Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace and Central Europe campaigns receiving a Meritorious Unit Commendation. In 1948 while serving in Austria the Company was redesignated as the 532nd Signal Service Company. During the Korean War the 532nd was redesignated again, this time as a Signal Construction Company. It served in six Korean campaigns receiving a Meritorious Unit Commendation. The Company then went through a series of activations and inactivations serving in the U.S., France and Germany from 1952-1967. By the time of the Vietnam War it was known as the 532nd Signal Company, and arrived in Vietnam on 1 October 1968. Stationed at Tan Son Nhut, it provided secure voice communications. It was inactivated in Vietnam on 1 March 1970. When the 25th Division departed Vietnam the 2nd Brigade remained and was transferred to Long Binh where it operated under II Field Force. On 10 February 1971 the 532nd Signal Company was reactivated and reorganized as a combat support Signal Company and assigned to the 2nd Brigade and stationed at Long Binh. The Company was inactivated in Vietnam on 25 April 1971, upon the departure of the 2nd Brigade. The 532nd was reactivated in 1973 and served in Germany and the Netherlands until inactivated one more time on 15 September 1994. The Company still exists today, as it was activated once more as the 532nd Signal Company, on 16 January 2011 at Fort Bliss, Texas, and assigned to the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division. In all of this time the Company was never authorized a distinctive unit patch of its own. - To return to your place in the text click here: Return to text



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