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— This Month —
Signal Corps Successes
– A Real Signal Corps
The Trumpster Vs. Rocket Man
– Is There A Strategy
To Avoid War, Or Is War The Strategy?
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,
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please send them to
We are here to serve you.
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
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.
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
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.
Signal Corps Successes
A Real Signal
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
However, that wasn’t the case in WWII,
especially in the Asian theater of operations
(more accurately, the
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 !
Compare that if you will to the case of Army
Signal OCS graduate Leon Tinnell. Lieutenant
Tinnell graduated with Army Signal
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.
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
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
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."
This page last updated
New content is constantly being added. Please check back
Update 19 October
Just found out that graduates of the former Artillery Officer Candidate School program at Fort Sill
formed an association back in 2002. The association is active and
planning its next reunion for April, 2018. You can check out their
Like our Army Signal Corps OCS Association, the
Artillery OCS group came together to support charitable and educational
activities, as well as
to capture the history and stories of Artillery OCS
graduates. Be sure to check them out, and if you
graduated this OCS program, join their organization!
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
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.
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
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
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."
As 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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
 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
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