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October 2016

— This Month —

Absorbing Punishment



When Propaganda Becomes Acceptable

Is It Possible For Propaganda To Be Innocent?

- - - - -


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. 


From the editor's desk

Last  month we penned an article on the state of the Veteran… that is, we looked at how American Veterans are doing these days (see: So How Are We Doing?). Our conclusion was simple: average. Most Vets are doing no better, nor worse, than the average American.

Clearly though that is not the case with those Vets that suffered some sort of “military stress” or trauma while they were in the Army. For those Vets the world is one full of hurt.

Just what kind of hurt is hard to say. If their wounds are physical, then in addition to any pain they may be suffering is the real possibility that their physical disabilities stop them from making a living sufficient to support the needs of a family. Working may be all but impossible for them. This of course means that the money they have available with which to live and plan their family life may not be enough. In cases like this, being able to set aside enough money to send one’s children to college becomes impossible.

Those suffering with psychological wounds face similar circumstances. They too are, for the most part, unable to put food on the table in a consistent enough fashion to be able to support a family.

In both cases then, being unable to be the provider for a family usually means that the Vet involved ends up living his life by himself. No wife, no kids, nothing in the form of what we might call a family.

Troubled Vets face a life that is usually unfulfilled when it comes to having those things the rest of us take for advantage: a loving wife, a stable home life, sufficient money to make ends meet, and maybe a kid or two running around the house… with a dog in tow.

This we all know. What few of us know is where all of this pain comes from. How is it that a healthy man succumbs to these kind of wounds? The physical wounds we understand, but what of the others?

In our column below we touch on the issue of the kinds and types of punishment soldiers absorb. We hope you like it.

Our second topic this month also has something to do with an article we ran last month. On our September 2016 Home Page we talked of the slippery slope our military climbs onto when it allows itself to become involved in creating propaganda that’s aimed at the American public.

At that time we were concerned about recent reports that military personnel have been cooking the books (intelligence reports) about the war against ISIS, to make it look as though we are winning swimmingly, when the opposite is the truth. Our point was that creating propaganda for domestic consumption is not a job the U.S. military should be involved in.

To make our point we showed you a propaganda movie produced by our beloved Signal Corps back during the Korean War. It’s point was that the North Korean communists were dirty bastards with no regard for humanity… which, while that may be true, was made in this movie through the use of lies and deception. That is, the Signal Corps used video footage of a massacre done by South Korean police as the visual proof of this fact. In other words, they blamed the North Koreans for a massacre actually committed by our own allies.

One can see, when people start creating propaganda, they will go to any length to make their case, even if those people creating the propaganda are military people. Doubt us? Then listen to the "propaganda" spewing out of the mouths of Clinton and Trump these days.

As for war propaganda, and the roll the U.S. military should play in it, we say again: the U.S. military does not belong in the business of creating propaganda for home consumption. If Congress or the White House wants to create war propaganda for viewing by us American citizens, they have more than enough money to hire Hollywood to do the job, rather than place this burden on the shoulders of the U.S. military, and the Army Signal Corps in particular. 

Having said all of that, this month we have a couple more WWII propaganda movies for you. Not as hotly contested as those shown in our article last month, we think you will find the whole issue of when and where U.S. military created propaganda finds a worthwhile home fascinating. Check out our column at right for the movies, and please enjoy them

Managing Editor  


Absorbing Punishment

Absorbing Punishment


Combat is sudden, intense and life threatening. No soldier knows how he will perform in combat until the moment arrives. The same is true as regards whether a soldier will exit his time in combat in one piece. The results of combat are unknowable.

Eisenhower said it best in 1944: “The capacity of Soldiers for absorbing punishment and enduring privations is almost inexhaustible so long as they believe they are getting a square deal, that their commanders are looking out for them, and that their own accomplishments are understood and appreciated.”

Fine words from a fine man… but notice how he parsed his sentence. Notice he said “almost inexhaustible.”

Therein lies the problem. A man’s capacity to absorb punishment is not inexhaustible. At some point in time, his capacity to absorb breaks down.

Combat StressPutting physical wounds aside, psychological and emotional, trauma-based wounds are among the most insidious forms of punishment a soldier must endure. His ability to battle and overcome the intensity of this form of punishment is based in large measure on his inner strength and ability to face adversity, fear and hardship during combat—and do so with courage and confidence. Even then however, the intensity of the kinds of psychological trauma a soldier faces can win. Sometimes one’s will to persevere and win… one’s resilience… is just not enough.

Over two-thirds of Silver Star recipients reported an increase in fear as the battle they won their Star in progressed. Common symptoms of fear include violent shaking, trembling, feeling weak, having cold sweats, and vomiting. To a great extent, these kinds of reactions can be mitigated by good leadership and training… but not always. In the end, the simple fact is that combat affects every soldier, both mentally and emotionally.

The good news is that today’s Army recognizes this, and has changed its attitude towards the issue of combat fatigue. Combat stress reactions are now viewed as combat injuries. Today’s Officer corps—the leaders on the field—know and understand that psychological combat injuries often lead to lasting adverse mental health effects.

The poster child of combat stress—PTSD—appears in 10% – 20% of soldiers that experience combat… with the result that even those who do not develop full blown PTSD symptoms still move on to a life filled with alcoholism and aggression.

From this perspective, PTSD is not a disease, it is a fairly common result of combat. Been out of the Army for 50 years now but still having bouts of intense anger? Still waking up at night from a sleep full of nightmares? Still find yourself driving along and suddenly having flashbacks? Then you’re suffering from PTSD—a mild form, no doubt, but PTSD still.

When trying to understand what is going on in the heads of those who suffer from military stress of one form or another, the military separates the sufferers into two groups. The first group they classify are those suffering from Combat/Operational Stress (COS) and/or what they call Combat Operational Stress Reactions (COSR). For both COS and COSR, the resulting illness being experienced is usually the consequence of the sum of the physical and emotional stressors experienced due to combat, or extended operations and their manifestations.

Those who experience emotional or psychological illnesses beyond the scope of COS and COSR fall under the category of PTSD sufferers. As all know by now, PTSD is a mental health condition triggered by a terrifying event… such as those events normally experienced in war.  The point here is that a correlation between these three entities has been found. If COS and/or COSR is not recognized and appropriate treatment  implemented, PTSD often results... or as a doctor would say, PTSD presents  

In all cases, symptoms of COS, COSR and PTSD generally include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety… as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event. This commonality of symptomatic expressions helps make the case that there is a strong relationship between PTSD and COS/COSR. By way of example:  

Continued at top of page, COLUMN AT RIGHT



The lamest generation


Vietnam Campaign Ribbons

This page last updated 1 October 2016. New content is constantly being added. Please check back frequently.

Update 1 October At the beginning of September we received an eMail from the daughter of Harry Dillingham, of Army Signal OCS Class 44-34. She was kind enough to send us copies of his OCS Class graduation pictures. We've posted them on his class page for all to see.

Already on that page is a picture sent in by Ronald D. Condle, son of Eugene Condle. The class being as large as it was however, the Condle photo did not cover all the graduates. The Dillingham photo which we added, and again, which was submitted by Harry's daughter Eve, covers more of the class and gets us a lot closer to having photos of everyone that graduated.

Our thanks to Ms. Dillingham for being kind enough to dig through her dad's old photos and send along this wonderful class picture. Her kindness helps us greatly in archiving the story of Class 44-34, an important element of the WWII U.S. Army Signal Corps preparations for war.



Continued from left column... 

1. PTSD and COS share common symptoms.

2. By definition COS cannot become PTSD until the trauma is over (past).

3. Evacuation of Service Members exhibiting COSR’s can result in chronic PTSD.

4. Most cases of acute, chronic and delayed PTSD after a war is over did not exhibit symptoms of COS during the battle.

It’s important then to recognize the signs of Combat or Operational Stress, even as they manifest themselves in your soul today, so many years after you left the Army. That is, while it may have been 50+ years since you fought in combat, your memory of the effects of that combat has not decreased. Old Vet that you may be, you are still prone to the illnesses of COS/COSR/PTSD today, and even at this advanced age will still, on occasion, exhibit symptoms of it.

Remember again, the signs of Combat Stress are many, ranging from loss of motivation to hallucinations… and while they may change over time, likely as not they are still with you today… even as your age tops 70.

Certain key symptoms are common, and you may find yourself suddenly suffering from them now. As we outlined before, they include: 

Problems sleeping

Uncharacteristic irritability or angry outbursts

Unusual anxiety or panic attacks

Signs of depression (such as apathy or loss of interest in things once enjoyed)

Other changes in behavior, personality or thinking

It is not clear why, as we get older, some of us have more severe stress reactions to events that occurred earlier in our life than others. Even the strongest and most seasoned service member can have a memory driven severe reaction under certain conditions. One thing is clear: pre-existing stress, such as that derived from combat in one’s youth… stress that today comes in the form of sleep deprivation, exhaustion, feeling excessive heat or cold, or being distracted by problems at home, can reduce a person's ability to absorb and get over the extreme stress of combat or other traumatic experiences we think are behind us.

Combat StressIf you are suffering from stress these days, don’t discount that time you spent in combat in your youth. Even if it occurred as far back as the late ‘40s or ‘60s, the things that did occur can still haunt you today. After all, even if you are past 70, your mind still remembers and flashes back visions of when you were a child.

Don't believe it? Then consider this... if you're like most older men, as you find yourself walking through your kitchen late at night in the shadows, or some other room in your house, you may feel a sudden memory pop that brings back a fleeting scene from your childhood. Only a micro-millisecond in length, the memory might be of your mother, making your grade school lunch, or grabbing you by the shirt and making you stand still while she ties your shoes.

Or maybe your flashback includes memories of your dad, at the start of summer vacation, telling you to straighten the nails in the wooden box in the barn before September arrives, or reminding you to keep an eye out for your sister this summer.

If your mind can recall these memories from those bygone days, then it can recall that time your knees shook a bit more than normal, as you pulled back on the cyclic to dodge VC fire coming at you, as you maneuvered out of a hot zone.

And just as the memories of your mother and father bring back fleeting milliseconds of good feelings, flashbacks to those troubled days in Europe, the Pacific, Korea or Vietnam can cause feelings of anger, frustration with your lot in life, anxiety, depression, panic attacks and more.

Be well.

War affects us all. Veterans develop survival skills which we use to help us participate fully in life, especially family life. And while we may prefer to think that we don’t need them—i.e. our time in combat didn’t affect us—and even if it did, it's all behind usour families know better.

So if you’re in your 70s, 80s or even 90s… hang in there. It’s okay to still be bothered by trauma. For combat vets, it’s normal. In the past people didn’t understand how trauma affected combat survivors and their families. Today we know what it does, and that it keeps doing its work for as long as we continue to breath.

The best news is that today we know how to deal with it. Let it go... let go of the denial that we suffer from the punishment we absorbed back then. Stop feeling guilty that you made it back and your buddies didn't. Get on with your life, short as it may be.

We are here now, and still have time to grow in emotionally and psychologically healthy ways that were not open to us when we were younger. Let it go, and be well.  

Army Signal 2016 Reunion Cancellation
To find out more, click on our Reunion Info link
in the column at left.


Military Morsels

When Propaganda Becomes Acceptable

•   •   •   •

Is It Possible For Propaganda To Be Innocent?

Our case is simple: our government employs us to fight its wars… fight them without question or complaint. When it comes to justifying to the American public why they command us to fight however, that is their job. 

Having said that, there are clearly benefits to be gained in explaining to the American public why our country goes to war, and how we American citizens can get behind a war effort and support it. That being the case, we thought you might like to see a couple more propaganda videos this month, again from WWII. They don’t diminish our case that war propaganda shouldn’t be produced by the U.S. military—any more than cooked intel reports about the war on ISIS should be—but they do make the case that propaganda should be produced... by someone. That is, propaganda serves a roll in war, and it shouldn't be diminished.

The first of the movies we have for you this month is a WWII propaganda movie produced in 1944, by the U.S. Army Signal Corps. Its purpose was to show the men and women of America back then how American industry can help win the war.

Fighting the world wars of that time consumed an incredible amount of our nation’s industrial output. Getting the American public behind the concept of increasing that output was critical to winning the war. This movie was produced to underwrite that effort... an effort that tried to show the American public that our country's industrial output was vital in importance in mounting a successful war effort… so vital that even the smallest of parts was important… the smallest of parts, like in ball bearings.

The movie discusses the importance of ball bearings to the war effort against Germany, and of how it was not only important for America to make ball bearings, but for it to destroy Nazi ball bearing factories in the process. In its effort to demonstrate how America could go about crippling the Nazi ball bearings industry, the film shows the planning and intelligence gathering that led to the bombing of these factories in Schweinfurt.  

 Time: 00:19:47 

Our second WWII U.S. Army Signal Corps produced propaganda film is called Prelude to War. It was produced in 1942, and is an interesting film from the propaganda perspective. What makes it interesting is that this film was originally produced as propaganda for men coming into the U.S. military to fight. As a propaganda piece produced by the Army for the Army, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the Army producing it. It’s when the Army gets involved in producing propaganda pieces for consumption by American citizens that wrong happens.

Interestingly, when this film first came out so many soldiers wrote home about it that the military decided to issue it for consumption by the general public. One wonders if this was the beginning of the slippery slope we referred to earlier? Was the innocent release of this filmwhich was so very well received by the soldiers themselves that the public asked to see it tooto the nation the first instance of the U.S. Army finding itself making propaganda films for the American public?

Stranger things have happened. Yet regardless, we admonish again, it is not the job of the U.S. military to produce propaganda for consumption by the American public... under any circumstances.

Finally, this film examines the difference between democratic and fascist states, and covers the Japanese conquest of Manchuria and the Italian conquest of Ethiopia. An intriguing film, it's one of 7 that were made at the time and entitled Why We Fight.

Others include Why We Fight Part 2 – The Nazis Strike; Why We Fight Part 3 – Divide and Conquer; Why We Fight Part 4 – The Battle of Britain; Why We Fight Part 5 – The Battle of Russia; Why We Fight Part 6 – The Battle of China; and one more we have not been able to find. Most of these are available for viewing on YouTube, if you have further interest.

For those of our readers that are history buffs, there are many scholarly pieces on the internet about these films. Many claim that they are Frank Capra films. Not so. They are U.S. Army Signal Corps produced films.

Yes, Frank Capra was involved... but he was the director, not the cause or source of the films, not the entity that shot the film, not the person that financed the films, and certainly not the producer. As the director his roll was important... nay, even more than just important, it was critical, as he was the one that oversaw the splicing of the U.S. Army Signal Corps film that was given to him into a cohesive video that supported the story the War Department wanted to tell.

Important though his roll was, the fact that Frank Capra “made” these films does not diminish the fact that this was a U.S. Army Signal Corps production, approved and encouraged by the War Department, for consumption by the American citizens of the time.

Enjoy the film. 

Time: 00:51:54



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