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October 2017

— This Month —

Signal Corps Successes

–  A Real Signal Corps Hero 

and

The Trumpster Vs. Rocket Man

–  Is There A Strategy To Avoid War, Or Is War The Strategy? – 

MISSION STATEMENT

 

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 WebMaster@ArmySignalOCS.com. We are here to serve you.

 



 

ArmySignalOCS Editor

Fall Is Here, Get Back To Work...

With the division taking place in our country, this summer's passing was hardly fun. It seemed like at every turn identity politics was taking over our country... and it continues today. The Russians must be laughing their жопа off at us by now.

Not to worry though, us Vietnam Vets saw far worse during the Vietnam War. Remember the summer of 1968, when riots broke out on student campuses over police brutality, protestors against the war were marching the streets of every city, places like Newark burned to the ground with Huey Newton leading black protests, and endless Jodys and wimps made their way across the border to Canada, rather than fight along side of us draftees? Ah for the good old turbulent days of a country gone wild. Want to bring back a few memories from those days, listen to this 1968 Flashback...

 

That all came to pass though, and so won't the mess our country is in now. Mark our word, this too will pass. Some day the millennials haunting our country today will grow up to be intelligent adults like us.

God forbid.

Anyway, to help you get your mind off of politics we thought we would bring you two stories this month. The first covers a true Army Signal Corps OCS graduate hero. His name is Leon Tinnell, and he graduated OCS back in WWII... Army Signal OCS Class 43-19 to be exact. Stationed in the Pacific Theater, his story of war tells of work that lay in great contrast to the kind of work Army Signal Corps Officers did in the Korean and Vietnam Wars. We think you will like it, and if you are a modern OCS graduate, like we are, we think you'll be glad that you served in Korea or Vietnam rather than the jungles of the Philippines, as Lieutenant Tinnell did.

Our second story is more of a historical piece framed in the context of a social argument, than a commentary. It deals with the North Korean situation, and presents a point of view backed by facts that few people know of. Our premise is that these facts are so important in relation to what is going on with the Rocket Man these days that they as much as dictate not only what is likely to be the outcome of the battle of wits he has entered into with Donald Trump, but why this outcome is as much as pre-ordained. Being militarists at heart, we think most of our readers will appreciate our informed view on how the U.S.– North Korean situation will end. Read it, we think you will like it.

Finally, don't forget that earlier this month the Army Signal Corps Association held its annual reunion. If you check back in a months or so, we hope to have for you some pictures and video of the event. We'd have it for you sooner, but after so much drinking and partying the old guys that attended need at least six weeks to sleep it off, and another two weeks to remember where they left their cameras.

Army Signal OCS 2017 Reunion

 



Signal Corps Successes

Signal Corps Successes

A Real Signal Corps Hero

It’s easy to remember the roll Signal Corps Officers played in the Korean War, and certainly the same is true for the war in Vietnam. For the most part, on a strategic basis, it involved overseeing command and control of the location and building of signal sites. On a tactical basis, operating them, keeping the radio links up and running, and defending their perimeter took pride of place. Add to this the normal functions of gathering and processing signals and other forms of intelligence, and one can pretty much sum up what Signal Corps Officers did in these wars. And while on occasion a Signal Corps Officer might find himself being assigned a single man mission of his own, rarely did that involve heading out into the boonies—by himself—to gather intelligence on the enemy. That’s just not the way it was done in Korea and Vietnam.

Southwest Pacific Area - WWIIHowever, that wasn’t the case in WWII, especially in the Asian theater of operations (more accurately, the Asiatic-Pacific Theater). In this area of the world, spying on the Japanese enemy and his movements was part and parcel of what the Signal Corps did, with much of this effort falling on the shoulders of individual Signal Corps Officers assigned to Ranger units. These men, acting on their own and often without support, were sent into the jungles of the land masses and islands of the Southwest Pacific Area [see map], to track the enemy and his movements, and report on these to General MacArthur’s HQ in Australia.

Almost wholly, these assignments involved an individual Signal Corps Officer living on his own within the jungles or on the outskirts of local settlements, melding in with local guerillas, surveying Japanese movements and reporting these back to HQ by radio, and as importantly, helping and supporting the local guerilla movement when possible—provided that his cover was not blown. In many ways the role they played in the Philippines was similar to that played by the famous Australian Coastwatchers on Guadalcanal. 

In the Aussie’s case, the Coastwatchers, also known as the Coast Watch Organisation, was an Australian driven military intelligence operation. Civilian men—obviously mostly from Australia—were stationed on remote Pacific islands during World War II, and tasked with observing enemy movements, as well as rescuing downed Allied pilots and stranded personnel.

These Aussies played a significant role in the Pacific Ocean and South West Pacific theatres, particularly as an early warning network during the Guadalcanal campaign. Their equivalent in the U.S. military were, for the most part, Signal Corps trained Rangers. Unlike the Aussies—who were civilians and therefore received cash awards for finding and rescuing downed Allied airmen—U.S. personnel were all military men. Their pay for doing their duty was what any Officer of the time got, about $2,000 a month for a First Lieutenant.

In some ways this was laughable, as many Aussie Coastwatchers came home with their pockets lined with bounty for helping U.S. service men escape the Japanese. One Coastwatcher, Donald Gilbert Kennedy, of New Georgia, Australia, was paid more than US$1 million for delivering 20 Allied and 20 Japanese pilots at once, in August 1943 ! [1]

Compare that if you will to the case of Army Signal OCS graduate Leon Tinnell. Lieutenant Tinnell graduated with Army Signal OCS Class 43-19, which he was sent to specifically as a means by which to learn the skills he needed to handle the communication duties of a U.S. Army coast watcher Officer, to be assigned to the Philippines after the Japanese invasion. As most readers will remember, December 8, 1941, brought the armed might of Japan to the Philippines, and with that and the defeat of America’s men on Corregidor, there was a pressing need to infiltrate the Philippines and track the Japanese enemy’s movements.

As a reminder, Japan’s invasion of the Philippines was planned as a means by which the country could bring the Filipinos into what Japan called the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. A euphemism for a means to gain access to the raw materials and wealth of neighboring countries, this aggressive expansion effort ended up becoming the underlying cause for the war that erupted between Japan and the U.S.

Camp Rizal Induction - U.S. Army Air Corps

In the case of the Philippines, that war began with the bombing of Clark Field, north of Manila, in the Municipality of Angeles (now. Angeles City). The attack on Clark Field was part of a series of morning airstrikes on U. S. Pacific island military bases, which were intended by the Japanese to minimize interference from what the U.S. called its Far East Air Force (FEAF).

The Far East Air Force, a part of the Signal Corps at the time, was the military aviation organization of the U.S. Army. It’s interesting to note that while history speaks extensively about the attack on Clark, within 80 miles of Manila the Army had five other airfields (Nichols, Nielson, Iba, Del Carmen, and Rosales, two of which were auxiliary strips which at the time of the bombing were just nearing completion. Another four auxiliary strips were at very preliminary stages of construction, yet still had a few planes assigned to their rough runways. These included O'Donnell and San Fernando near Clark, San Marcelino northwest of Subic Bay, and Ternate west of Cavite (Ternate and San Fernando were never finished). All in all then, the Japanese had a field day, bombing and strafing some 10 military airstrips with little to no resistance being mounted on our part.

Once the FEAF was out of commission, the Japanese could then mount an invasion of the country. As we all know, the attack on the airstrips set off a long struggle that was waged by American and Filipino forces on Luzon (the largest northern island in the chain of islands that make up the Philippines) to stop the Japanese invasion. That struggle failed, and as the war broadened from Luzon to other islands, it became just a matter of time until the Japanese prevailed.

In great measure this was because early in the war Roosevelt wrote off the Philippines as an asset to be protected, thus denying MacArthur the reinforcements he needed to fight the Japanese. Regardless, the die was cast, and after a brief battle fought in the Southern Islands, Japan accepted the surrender of the Philippines in May, 1942.

Yet just because the U.S. Army was not yet ready to take on the Japanese in the Philippines, that does not mean that those who remained on the islands of this country after the bombing of Clark were not itching for a fight. In fact, part of the long struggle against the Japanese between the bombing of Clark and the surrender of the country to Japan in May 1942 involved three sets of fighting people: American soldiers cut off from their units, who refused to surrender once the order was put out to do so, American civilians living in the Philippines and unable to return to the States, and local Filipino men and women... all of whom banded together to create a resistance movement.

These three groups formed a very powerful and effective guerilla force that harassed the Japanese throughout the war. Even today, the men and women of this movement—a combination of Americans and their Pilipino compatriots—are viewed with romanticism by the Philippine people. As one writer put it, their history comprises “one of the greatest romantic themes of Philippine history” as well as “one of the finest hours for the Philippine people." 

  Continued in column AT RIGHT ABOVE



 
Blue or Red, General


 

Vietnam Campaign Ribbons

This page last updated 8 October 2017. New content is constantly being added. Please check back frequently.

Update 10 September – What's WAR with North Korea going to look like? Read this excellent article by a former Army Officer that strategized war games with the NORKs. Some of it is a bit far fetched, but most of it is spot on. You'll enjoy it.

 

 

Continued from left column...

Supporting these people until the U.S. could mount an effective retaking of the Philippines became the task of the U.S. Army and Navy, and it was in this way that people like Lieutenant Tinnell found their way to the Philippines.

Born in Oklahoma on 2 November 1918, but a resident of St. Louis, Missouri, for most of his life, Lieutenant Leon Tinnell was a Ranger assigned to the Army Air Corp, with Signal Corps flags on his lapel. His stint at OCS served two purposes, it brought to him the Lieutenant’s bars he needed to command operations once in the field, and it taught him the communications tricks he required in order to set up and oversee operation of the communication network that was needed to relay intelligence information from the Philippines to the rest of the U.S. military.

Lieutenant Leon Tinnell, U.S. Army Signal CorpsOnce he graduated Army Signal OCS Class 43-19 he was sent off to the Philippines. His arrival was via submarine, in the middle of the night, off the coast of Mindanao Island.

There are 7,083 islands within the Philippine archipelago, half of which have no names. From the northernmost island of Luzon south to Mindanao lie great expanses of jungle, mountains and generally road-less terrain broken up by 11,000 miles of coastline. The island chain is divided roughly into three sections, the northern islands (Luzon), the central islands (Panay, Negros, Cebu, Bohol, Samar and Leyte; all known collectively as the Visayas), and the southern islands (Mindanao, Palawan, and the Sulu Archipelago). Just as Luzon forms the largest island in the northern part of the Philippine archipelago, Mindanao forms the largest island in the south of the country.

In 1942 Mindanao was still not fully mapped. Records are sketchy, but suggest that Lieutenant Tinnell came ashore somewhere near Surigao. Surigao was a priority site, as coast watchers could spot Japanese fleet movements from there, as they wound their way between the Philippine islands, on their way from the South China Sea to the Pacific Ocean.

In Lieutenant Tinnell’s case his landing was not one of dramatically swimming ashore and sneaking into the jungle to hide, like James Bond might have, but instead involved transporting tons of equipment from the submarine that brought him, to the selected landing spot. Included were the supplies he needed to establish the radio stations to be set up, as well as supplies for local guerrilla units on Mindanao.

Mindanao Signal Landing SpotDanger was ever present, as men like Lt. Tinnell had the task of not only bringing the equipment and supplies ashore, but often hauling heavy generators and the like up steep shorefront cliffs to temporary sites. Once there, they then needed to dodge Japanese patrols, while rounding up local guerillas to assist in moving the equipment to more secure locations from which they could be put in service.

In terms of engaging with the enemy, as a general rule, as Robert E. Stahl, a U.S. Army Signal Corps enlisted coast watcher stationed on Luzon told a reporter, "We were to avoid physical contact and armed combat, a feat not always possible. Our primary mission was to gather intelligence and send it to Australia."

Mindanao topographyAs for Mindanao and its impact on the work Lieutenant Tinnell was assigned to do, described by General Robert Eichelberger as "bewildering," the island of Mindanao has five major mountain systems with a varied and complex topography that includes numerous rivers and a number of lakes. The terrain Is rugged and inhospitable. The impenetrableness of the island’s geography can be seen by the fact that in 1971 surveyors discovered a tribe of indigenous people that called themselves the Tasaday. This primitive tribe had lived undetected in a rain forest on Mindanao, among 200 foot trees, in an unexplored area of Cotabato Province for some 1,000 years. The irony is that this tribe, which has no word in its vocabulary for war, was never accidentally discovered by the Filipino guerrillas who hid from the Japanese in the very same area.

Read More

 


The Trumpster Vs. Rocket Man

The Trumpster Vs Rocket Man

Is There A Strategy To Avoid War, Or Is War The Strategy?

These days everyone is watching what is going on with the Norks. Are we going to war? Will it be a nuclear war? Why isn’t China doing more to help us? Why is Trump ramping up the rhetoric? Does this guy know what he is doing?

Being militarists, what happens with the North Korean situation is of keen interest to us. Those of us who fought for this country don’t want to see another useless, endless, non-solvable war ensue… simply because our President doesn’t know how to handle either a) foreign policy or b) the fighting of a war.

Barack Obama is a case in point. On the issue of how to prosecute the war in Afghanistan he didn’t have a clue. The same is true with respect to how he should have handled Syria and Bashar Al-Assad. The unfortunate fact is that when America puts in office a President bereft of backbone, international experience and/or intimate familiarity with the military he commands, bad things happen. Bad things, like the death of 4,486 U.S. soldiers in Iraq and 2,345 U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan, 900,000 U.S. soldiers wounded in both wars, and a cost approaching $6 trillion.

Let’s not repeat these mistakes with North Korea.

So what’s with The Trumpster? Does he know what he is doing?

Most people in the media today say he does not. They say he is too impetuous, too confrontational, full of false bravado, clumsily trying to conduct diplomacy by Twitter, and otherwise wholly inept when it comes to handling both the Rocket Man and China.

We disagree. We think his actions are spot on.

For us to explain why though, we need to digress and delve back into history, to show you how what Trump is doing is expertly mining a known crack in the façade of friendliness between North Korea and China, in order to split one from the other, and turn the situation to America’s advantage. If you will, what Trump is doing is what Johnson should have done with Vietnam… see it for what it was: a country forced to be respectful of China, but one which didn’t really like or trust the Chinese and had no intention of emulating or parroting the Chinese communist way.

A Brief History Lesson On Why The Norks Hate China, and Vice Versa

The Sino-DPRK relationship is a tortured one. Any student of the history of these two countries knows that North Korea harbors a profound sense of mistrust of the Chinese, one that goes back decades. In terms of why this is important now, this sense of wariness and distrust ultimately limits what Beijing can do today to exercise political influence over Pyongyang.

That being the case, you might ask, then why is Trump trying so hard to get China’s help? The answer to that question is that it is precisely because of this mistrust and lack of influence over what the Norks do that it may be possible to swing China to our side, causing them to abandon Kim Jong-un and support the real solution America seeks: regime change.

To see how deep and profound the mistrust is between these two countries—and therein understand why it is possible to split one from the other—one needs to know that the animosity between the two pre-dates the formation of not just the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), but also the People’s Republic of China (PRC); the former being established in 1948, the latter in 1949. Specifically, in the 1930s the Chinese communists nearly executed Kim Il Sung, the founder of North Korea, and the Rocket Man’s grandfather.

At the time he was suspected by Mao’s communists of being a member of a pro-Japanese Korean group called the “People’s Livelihood Corp” or Minsaengdan (Minshengdan in Chinese)[See from our files the document labeled “The Historical Development of the Political Relationship Between North Korea and China and its Future,” Section 3.3, page 14; ; see also from our files the communist propaganda document “Kim Il-sung With The Century”, ).

Being rabid haters of the Japanese, who were occupying China at the time, Mao’s communists were hell bent on killing anyone who was friendly with the Japanese. Killing the claimed leader of Korea, a country the communists considered a vassal state of China anyway, was of no consequence to Mao in the overall scheme of things. One can only imagine what the Rocket Man thinks of the leaders of the country that tried to kill his grandfather, the Great Leader.

Today scholars accept that the psychological impact of the Minsaengdan incident on Kim Il-sung is profound. This they garner from reading newly declassified Cold War-era records, from the archives of the former Soviet Union, East Germany, Bulgaria, Mongolia, Poland and other countries—all of whom were once allies of North Korea, but who have now turned against it. In particular, these newly available records provide substantive proof that from North Korea’s perspective the relationship it has with China has been fraught with tension and mistrust since the early 1930, and most definitely since the 1950-1953 Korean War.

Kruschev, Mao, Ho Chi Minh - 1959Students of the history of war will see a parallel here with how Ho Chi Minh felt about China. In that case, Uncle Ho hated the Chinese’s superior attitude, condescending way of dealing with him, and demeanor that suggested that Vietnam was a vassal state of China too. One result of this is that he never wanted Vietnam to go communist, nor become beholding to the Chinese Communist Party.

Single party rule, yes; dictatorship, sure, why not... but govern according to a communist ideology, not necessarily... and even then only if it proved essential to winning the country's freedom from the foreign rule it had suffered under since 1887.

Unfortunately, the U.S. misread Ho Chi Minh's turning to the Chinese for material aid (read: guns and butter) as siding with them on political issues, and went to war to stop Uncle Ho's domino from falling communist too. In effect, what Ho Chi Minh felt for the ChiComs in his days is exactly what Kim Jong-un feels today.

From our perspective, the early distrust between the Koreans and China is very interesting, as it helps us understand today Trump’s view that he can turn the Chinese against the Rocket Man, and get them to work to America’s advantage.

As for how deep this distrust is, a short look at how the Chinese lorded it over the North Koreans during the Korean War will help further make the point that the relationship between these two states has been fractured, and is fraught with tension and conflict. With respect to the Korean War, much of the tension—and the residual animosity that ensued—has to do with how the Chinese took field command over the North Korean army during the Korean War, dictating to Kim Il-sung how he should fight the war against the imperialist Americans.

In the late fall of 1950, the so-called Chinese People’s Volunteers (China’s euphemistic title for those CCP soldiers that it sent to fight in the Korean War) took command of field operations in Korea. When they did they prohibited and barred North Korea from continuing offensive operations against US and South Korean troops. Consequently, by 1951 the war began to turn in the U.S.’s favor.

North Korean leaders, failing to recognize that the Chinese forces had in fact rescued the DPRK from a certain defeat, instead blamed Chinese military officials for the loss of the war… or more specifically, for their failure to help the North Koreans reunify the Korean peninsula. Adding to this sore spot, the North Koreans blamed the Chinese for taking control over the country’s railroad system, thus effectively denying its use to the North Koreans as a means for moving troops around the country in order to counter U.S. operations.

Korean War - Bombed North Korean TrainThe net result of both of these issues was that, as far as the North Koreans were concerned, the Chinese’s misuse of the country’s internal rail system a) prevented them from mounting counter attack operations against the U.S., and b) caused the country’s trains to sit idle on track sidings during most of the war, where U.S. aircraft were able to turn them into smoldering ruins.

Read More


 

1st Signal Brigade**FUN FACTS**1st Signal Brigade 

At its peak [in Vietnam], the 1st Signal Brigade had more than 21,000 soldiers, with six signal groups, 22 signal battalions, and an extraordinary number of specialized communications agencies. This made it, at that time, the largest single brigade in the U.S. Army.

Source: vietnam.psyo.cz

 
   

Footnotes:

[1] Breuer, William B. (2003). The Spy Who Spent the War in Bed: And Other Bizarre Tales from World War II. Hoboken, New Jersey: Wiley. pp. 97–99. ISBN 0-471-26739-2. - To return to your place in the text, click here


 

 

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