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— 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 NotShoot, Move, Communicate
Applying The Lessons Of Vietnam To The War On ISIS
Why It's Important To Get The War
Against ISIS Right
When The Jungle Went Silent, You Were
- - - - -
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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
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in military history, and the general public. Please, come join us. For more information about our
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contact details, click on the OCS Association link at left.
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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:
Get It Straight: It's Communicate, Move, Shoot; NotShoot, 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.
Lieutenant 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
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.
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
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
What 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
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
• 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
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
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
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.
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?
This page last
updated 3 November 2014. New content is constantly being added.
Please check back frequently.
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
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!
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:
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
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?
How 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
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
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".
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.
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
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
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.
November Crossword Puzzle
Afghan War Acronyms PART II of III
Join 2, 3 and 4 word answers together
as one complete word.
 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.
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