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— This Month —
Political Commentary: A Failure of Leadership
Army Signal OCS And The 86th Signal Battalion’s Story
More Radio Stories Of The Signal Corps
From Where Cometh War?
- - - - -
Our Association is a
not-for-profit fraternal organization. It's purpose is a) to foster
camaraderie among the graduates of Signal Corps Officer Candidate
School classes of the World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam War
eras, b) to organize and offer scholarships and other assistance for
the families of Officer and Enlisted OCS cadre who are in need, and
c) to archive for posterity the stories and history of all of the
Signal Corps OCS Officers who served this great country. We are open
to ALL former Army Signal Corps OCS graduates,
their families and
friends, as well as other officers, enlisted men, those interested
in military history, and the general public. Please, come join us. For more information about our
Association, to see a list of our Officers and Directors, or for
contact details, click on the OCS Association link at left.
Please note: The
views and opinions expressed on this website are offered in order to
stimulate interest in those who visit it. They are solely the views
and expressions of the authors and/or contributors to this website
and do not necessarily represent the views of the Army Signal Corps
Officer Candidate School Association, its Officers, Directors,
members, volunteers, staff, or any other party associated with
the Association. If you have any suggestions for improvements to this site,
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to WebMaster@ArmySignalOCS.com. We
are here to serve you.
Political Commentary: A Failure of Leadership
Herb Block was one of America's most incisive
political cartoonists. Working under Katharine
Graham, the Chairman of The Washington Post, few
people had as unique or accurate a view on
Washington politics and the President as Herb
Block did. Herb fought for and earned a unique
position at the paper: one of complete
independence—of anybody and anything.
Journalistic enterprises, no less this one than
any other, run best when writers
and editors have a great deal of autonomy.
Unfortunately, back in Herb Block's day
many of the politicians being skewered thought
Herb had too much. His autonomy allowed him to
impale the President like no one else. During
his time, his political commentary and satire
was unmatched in its ferocity. More importantly,
it was to the point and accurate.
One of his more famous cartoons is reproduced
below. It assails the ineptness and lack of
leadership of President Carter, who couldn't
seem to get anything right in his
administration, or manage a foreign policy
effort to a positive outcome. This was put on
display for the world to see when Iran invaded
the American Embassy in Tehran and took its
American workers hostage.
The cartoon is simple
yet effective. It captures Carter’s frustration
over his inability to do anything right, but at
the same time questions his leadership style.
Herb Block shows Carter facing, not occupying,
the President's desk, holding a visitor’s guide
in his hand, as though he didn't belong in the
Oval Office at all. To add vibrancy
and impact his drawing depicts multiple images
of Carter pounding his fist, suggesting a lack
of bold, confident control.
With apologies to Herb, we have altered
his cartoon below to reflect what we see as the situation
today. We have also added a bit of commentary overwrite to
the cartoon, just to make our point. If, compared to Herb
Block's cartoon, our redo seems particularly harsh or
cutting to you,
remember... Herb Block was drawing on static white paper
with a piece of charcoal... we have the advantage of using full color, digital motion,
fades, shifting text, and audio
to make our point.
To see our version, click on the small
arrow icon in the lower right corner of the cartoon below...and
remember, it's only political humor. Enjoy.
Comments in the above video are those
of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the U.S.
Army Signal Corps OCS Association.
If you would like to offer your view
on our views, please click here...
More Radio Stories Of The Signal Corps
month we posted here three old recordings of radio
broadcasts by Jean Shepherd, an ex-Signaleer who went on to
fame during the golden age of radio. During his show he
frequently told stories of his time in the Signal Corps in
the early 50s. Today his stories are priceless.
We have been lucky enough to locate a trove of them, and not
finding any record off their being under copyright, are
reproducing them here for your continued enjoyment.
As we said last month, "grab a beer, find a quiet place away
from the kids, grandkids and wife, shut the door, turn the
lights off, put your feet up, close your eyes, make
believe you are punching the buttons on an old Philco radio..."
and enjoy Shep's stories of his time in the Signal Corps.
Broadcast Story #1:Code School. Originally broadcast
on WOR, New York, on April 13, 1965, this story talks of
Shep's early experience as a 13 year old with CW code, and
his achievement of a 45 word per minute output. It then goes
on to talk of his experience as a Signaleer while on
Regimental maneuvers, when he worked in a Signal detachment
that provided coded field communication support. The humor
comes out in his discussion of the level of chaos his unit
took as normal operations. The segment runs 40:23 in length The
entire show is broadcast here.
Broadcast Story #2:Reginald T. Edwards.
Originally broadcast on WOR, New York, the day after the
above broadcast, April 14, 1965, this story tells of how the
nemesis of the above story, Reginald T. Edwards, catches up
with Shep in a comedy club in New York that Shep was working
at. How Shep deals with this "confrontation" is hilarious,
as are his recollections of "Army Edwards." The show begins
slowly with other talk and stories, and segues into the Army
Edwards section after about 24 minutes.The segment itself runs 44:03 in length,
and is well worth listening to. Enjoy!
Want more... click here
and drop us a note. We have
more recordings available and will stream them if requested.
Note: The media
streamed here was downloaded from public sources. We have
attempted to find if this media is copyright protected but
have failed to find any registered claimants. It is being
streamed here as belonging in the public domain.
Army Signal OCS And The 86th
Signal Battalion's Story
Combat Operations Support,
Looking through the
history of war from WWII through Korea to
Vietnam, one runs across Army Signal Corps
Officer Candidate School graduate names showing
up in one unit after another, all across the
globe, in each of these wars, and in almost
every battle. There is no doubt that the men who
graduated from Army Signal OCS, and the TAC
Officers that trained them, played a pervasive
and critical role in helping win these wars.
Over and over again Signal OCS people show up in
leading positions, working to keep communication
flowing under the toughest of combat conditions.
In its most simple sense,
that is after all why the Signal Corps was
created … to establish and keep lines of
communication open, tying those on the
battlefield to support elements and Headquarter
operations in the rear, in order to enable each
battle to go forward. However, few realize that
in working to accomplish this task, by in large,
the Signal Corps Officers involved needed to be
on the battlefield, in the heat of
the combat. This is especially so with
First and Second Signal Corps Lieutenants, who
commanded small detachments located at the very
apex of where the combat was happening. Without
their presence on the battlefield, the Infantry
and other combat units involved simply could not
get their job done.
It’s because of this that
the Signal Corps was designated as a
Combat Support unit instead of Combat
Service Support. For Signal Corps men, serving
under combat conditions, achieving the mission
they were given often meant the difference
between the success or failure of a campaign,
and more importantly, the degree to which
Infantry soldiers lived or died in the fighting that took
place. It is not too much of a stretch to say
that without communication there would be no
maneuver, find, fix, or fire taking place.
But how did these Army
Signal Corps Officers and men fit into the
combat units they supported? Other than simply
showing up to provide communication, what role
did they play, and how did they get to where
they ended up? In this article we take a look at
one of the units that depended on Army Signal
OCS graduates and former TAC Officers to
organize their combat field communications, and
some of the men that filled this role: the role
of a combat communications Officer.
The unit we will follow is
the 25 Infantry Division, also known as Tropic
Lightening. And the Combat Support Unit we will
focus on that enabled the 25th to do its
fighting is the 86 Signal Battalion, 1st Signal Brigade (USA STRATCOM).
The war these two teamed up in was, of course,
the Vietnam War.
In Vietnam the 25th
Infantry Division’s unique patch earned it the
nickname the Electric Strawberry; because of
where it was stationed in Vietnam, it also was
jokingly referred to as the
Chi National Guard. For those unaware, Củ
Chi is a suburb of Saigon, and is most famous
for its tunnels, a labyrinth of below ground
chambers, passage ways and rooms constructed
during the Vietnam War to serve as headquarters
for the Việt Cộng in South Vietnam. Prior to the
war, going all the way back to the early 1900s,
Củ Chi was a fulsome green area of intense
agriculture, especially rice paddies, orchards
and nut trees. The people lived well and all was
at peace. However, when the French took control
things began to change.
During World War I France
lost control over Vietnam. Unfortunately for the
Vietnamese, after World War I ended the French
came flooding back again, busying themselves
setting up a colonial government aimed at
imposing a tightfisted but elegantly European control over
Looking back on those times, most
historians today feel that France’s control of
Vietnam proved a disaster for the local
inhabitants, in more ways than one. For the most
part, any economic progress that was made during
the time of French occupation benefited only the
French, and to a lesser extent a very small and
select class of wealthy Vietnamese… who, once
the French left, took control of the country and
proceeded to strip it even more of its wealth
than the Frence had. Among these families were
included those headed by
Ngô Đình Diệm, General Lê
Nguyễn Văn Xuân,
Nguyễn Văn Hinh, Lê
Văn Viễn, and a few others.
The effect of French
colonial rule, followed by the rule of local
oligarchs intent on lining their own pockets
instead of improving conditions for the
Vietnamese citizenry, was that masses of
Vietnamese people were deprived of the basic
elements of life: food, housing, medical care,
and education for the young.
The French counter this by pointing out,
even today, that through
the construction of irrigation works, chiefly in
the Mekong delta, the area of land devoted to
rice cultivation during their period of colonial
rule quadrupled. What they fail to tell you
however is that during this same period the
individual peasant’s rice consumption decreased,
and worse, no other foods became available to
replace the rice that they lost. Without the substitution of other foods,
starvation soon set it.
How could rice production
go up, you ask, while local inhabitants saw
their supply of food drop dramatically? The
answer is that the new lands that were
developed were not distributed among the
landless and the peasants, but instead were
given away at nominal prices to Vietnamese
oligarchs who acted as collaborators by working with French
government leaders, French corporations and
In effect then, the French
government’s attempt to economically develop
Vietnam did little more than create both a new
class of Vietnamese landlords, who were in turn
supported and enriched by a class of
landless tenants. These tenants lived on the
land, but barely off of it. In totality, their
life was based on working the fields for
landlords who charged them rents of up to 60
percent of the crop they grew. The
landlords, little more than French
collaborators, then sold the harvested crops at
the Saigon export market, for massive profits…
even while local inhabitants starved.
This page last
updated 11 August 2014. New content is constantly being added.
Please check back frequently.
11 August 2014 –Candidate Rexford
Davis, OCS Class 21-67, sent us a few pics of his
time in Vietnam. Part of the 37th Signal Battalion,
Rexford served at Hoi An and on Monkey Mountain, of
all places. You can see his pics on the
for 21-67. Today Rexford is a Retired Lieutenant
Colonel, currently serving as a Department of the
Army Civilian with the G-37 Office at the United
States Army Reserve Command, Fort Bragg, NC.
1 August 2014 –The OSS Society
has informed us that the chairmen and ranking
members of the Foreign Affairs Committee, the Armed
Services Committee, and the Permanent Select
Committee on Intelligence have announced their
support for co-sponsoring legislation to award the
Congressional Gold Medal to the veterans of the
Office of Strategic Services, the predecessor to the
Central Intelligence Agency, for their exceptional
and indispensable service against Nazi Germany
during World War II.
They quoted OSS
founder General William J. Donovan, a World War I
Medal of Honor recipient, who said that OSS
personnel "performed some of the bravest acts of the
war." They cited the role played by the OSS "as the
basis for the modern-day American intelligence and
special operations communities, including the CIA,
Navy SEALs, U.S. Army Special Forces, Air Force
Special Operations Command, and the Marines Special
Operations Command." They also recognized several of
the more prominent members of the OSS, including
American icon Julia Child, Supreme Court Justice
Arthur Goldberg, Pulitzer-prize winning historian
Arthur Schlesinger Jr., and Ralph Bunche (the first
African-American to win the Nobel Peace Prize). The
OSS Society has asked us to ask
you to please contact
your congressperson and both your senators and ask
them to become cosponsors of this legislation. We at
ArmySignalOCS.com encourage you to do so and thank
you in advance.
16 June 2014 –The Association's reunion is coming up in October.
To be held in Kissimmee, Florida, it'll be a grand
ol' time you shouldn't miss. To get your
application form jump to our Reunion Info page and
download it. You can get there via the menu item in
the upper left corner of this page, or by clicking here:YES! I
WANT TO GO TO THE REUNION!
Continued from left column...
In simple terms, French colonial rule policies resulted in
growing export figures for rice, growing profits for
Vietnamese oligarch families, and the growing exploitation
of the peasantry. For those who wondered how the Vietnam war
got started… that is, what drove Hồ Chí Minh and the
to foment a revolution in the first place… this is the real
story: the strangulation of the Vietnamese peasantry by the
French and their southern Vietnam collaborationist families.
To make matters even worse, from 1920 on the French government made large amounts of
capital available to French companies to pursue these forms
of “economic development.” One of the areas targeted was
that of rubber production. For French companies like
Michelin, French government money flowed to it, to be used
to nurture rubber seedlings, clear the land where
plantations would be grown, plant the saplings, produce the
rubber, and construct the roads needed to move the rubber to
port for shipment.
In doing this Michelin employed more than
30,000 laborers that it moved from
Tonkin (Vietnamese: Bắc Kỳ,
historically Đàng Ngoài) to southern Vietnam to do the work.
These peasants, paid little more than a few dong a day,
comprised the work force that developed the host of rubber
plantations around Bien Hoa, Củ Chi, and Dầu Tiếng. It was
to one of these rubber plantations that the
25th Infantry Division was sent to set up
Originally activated on 1 October
1941 in Hawaii, the Division was tasked with focusing on
military operations in the Asia-Pacific region. And it’s
because of this that when the Vietnam War rolled around in
the ‘60s that the 25th was one of the first to send combat
support men to Vietnam. While an aggressive air mobile Infantry
unit during the Vietnam War, today the 25th generally
presents itself in the form of
light infantry, airborne, and aviation
units, and finds itself being deployed
wherever needed throughout the world.
Back at the time of its formation in 1941, the Division was
shaped from the 27th and 35th
Infantry Regiments of the original Hawaiian
Division. Readers might note that the Hawaiian Division
was unique in several ways. For one, the unit was given a
name rather than a number when it was formed; for another,
it was one of the first of the pre-second World War “Square
Divisions” to be formed. Composed of four infantry
regiments, Square Divisions are no longer constituted in the
Back in 1963, as the Vietnam War began to hot
up, the U.S. Military Assistance Command, Vietnam, asked the
25th Infantry Division to send over a few support men: 100
helicopter door-gunners… and with that the 25th found itself
slowly being piecemealed out to Vietnam. By mid-1965, 2,200
men of the Tropic Lightning Division were serving in
Vietnam, including early Signal support units as well as a
unit of the 65th Engineering Battalion [Company C], sent
along to assist in the construction of the port facilities
at Cam Ranh Bay. In December of that year the meat of the
Division, its Infantry combat forces, found themselves on
their way to Vietnam.
Unique as a deployment, the Division
sent 4,000 3rd Brigade Infantrymen and 9,000 tons of
equipment… all delivered from Hawaii in less than 25 days.
So unique was this effort, known as Operation Blue Light,
that until Operation Desert Shield it was the largest and
longest airlift of personnel and cargo into a combat zone in
U.S. military history.
In terms of where these men were
headed, while initially most of them ended up at Pleiku in
the Central Highlands, as time passed the Division found
itself fighting throughout the country. One of the battles
it fought was Northwest of Saigon, and was called Operation
Junction City. Operation Junction City was an 82-day joint
U.S. and ARVN engagement that began on 22 February 1967,
aimed at surrounding and decimating the Viet Cong west of
Saigon along the Cambodian border. Surprisingly, it proved
to be the largest U.S. airborne operation since Operation
Market Garden during World War II. It was also the only
major airborne operation of the Vietnam War. Unfortunately,
the operation accomplished little because operational
surprise was lost. It seems that a highly placed female spy
learned of the pending operation and notified the Viet Cong,
who then withdrew the majority of their men before the
operation was even launched.
Who was the spy, you ask? A
female NVA Colonel named Dinh Thi Van managed to place one
of her agents, a comely young lady with a ready smile, in
social circles that included ARVN General Cao Van Vien and
U.S. General William West-moreland. Yup… that’s the way wars
are fought and won guys… we carry the guns and pound the
ground, while the boys with scrambled eggs on their hat
dally with cute little locals that giggle at their every
word… and then some. The result is that when you jump on a
Chopper and head out for your average day of combat the enemy likely knows more
about your mission than you do.
From Where Commeth War?
Whether you’re 21 and looking out through the concertina wire
at a Fire Support Base, towards the far edge of the tree line, or nearly
70 and watching world events on TV to see where the next enemy will come from,
watching to see when the fighting will begin is the same. You peer with
intensity, squinting your eyes and your mind to see if you can figure out where
the enemy is and spot him before he spots you.
As communicators, we do this naturally, because while our primary mission is to
keep the lines of communication open for the other branches we serve, we too are
one of those “other” branches, fully engaged on the battlefield, just as they
are. Because of this, if we see the enemy before one of our sister branches
does, it is our job to warn our fellow fighters that we have seen the enemy, and
he is upon us.
Two years ago in 2012 we wrote and published a series of articles called
Rebalancing Our Strategic Imperatives. These articles discussed a new enemy
we thought we saw coming over the horizon; an enemy in the making if you will,
one who if America didn’t act quickly enough might just be the cause of the next
In those articles we talked of this potential enemy, and laid out a program to
help deflect the aggressiveness this enemy was exhibiting; deflect it in a way
that could help prevent a future war. The primary instrument we proposed be used
to stop this enemy in his tracks was a kind of soft military power, the kind
that could come from creating an unofficial "alliance" between all of the
militaries of the countries threatened by this new enemy, such that while action
by one might be perceived as a lone effort, the enemy would know that it was in
fact an expression of the views of all. We even had a name for this kind of
alliance. We called it the Co-security Sphere.
Interestingly, someone in Washington and the DoD seems to have heard our warning
and set about doing just what we recommended. The result: the potential enemy we
spotted is aware now that every one of their actions is being closely watched by not
only us but a group of allies that have tightened—under our prodding—their
military relationships with each other, in order to present a more cohesive
bulwark against this enemy’s expansionist ideas.
Who is this potential new enemy whose actions portend a possible future war?
None other than China. And who are these allies that we proposed should be
brought closer together into a synergistic but low key military partnership, to
stop the enemy's taunting? Answer – the countries
of East and Southeast Asia. Primarily Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, the
Philippines, Malaysia, Burma, and Vietnam, and to a lesser extent Cambodia
Let us explain.
Our articles of 2012 began with a simple article in June about the problem the
Philippines was having keeping
China out of its coastal waters. As we wrote that piece we began to see that the
problem wasn’t just within the waters of the Philippines, but also the waters of
many of the other countries that border the South and East China Seas. And so in short order we found ourselves publishing reviews of the strategic military
situations vis-à-vis China and each of the other countries in the
In August 2012 we looked at the situation
Burma faced with China. In
September we looked at Japan.
October 2012 saw us discussing South
Korea, and in November we looked at
Vietnam. Finally, in December
2012 we summarized all of these views and proposed that a
Co-security Sphere be organized
by the militaries of these countries, with the U.S. military acting as the
informal head, but Japan taking the public lead.
Recognizing that there are still ambivalent feelings among some of these
countries towards each other, we kept how we would see this concept implemented
low key, and suggested that it be moved away from the political sphere and into
the realm of the militaries of these countries. Our proposal was that they begin
to work together—informally—but in a coordinated manner so that China saw that a
provocative action against one would be the cause of a change in military
footing by all of the others towards China.
all of this effort? Because as far back as 2012 we saw great risk of war in the
bullying China was conducting as regards her attempts to possess many of the
islands in the South and East China Seas. In our articles at that time we
explained how a rising China was causing her to flex her muscles not in her home
waters, but in waters that have been under the control of neighboring countries
for centuries. And while a case could be made that perhaps some of the islands
in these waters might belong to China, other cases could just as well be made
that they definitely did not. Regardless of who was right, our view was that the
actions China was taking by sending armed ships into these waters to patrol them
and establish dominance over them had the potential to cause unintended
consequences, of the type that could lead any one of these countries to confront
China in a way so that shots were exchanged… which, of course, could lead to a
war America found itself being dragged into. Rather than wait for this to
happen, our view was that the U.S. military should proactively go forward and
set up various means to negate this likely eventuality.
August Crossword Puzzle
Join 2, 3 and 4 word answers together
as one complete word.
For answer key to this month's
see icon at bottom of page
 The editors of this website are
indebted to the Board of the U.S. Army Signal Corps OCS
Association, Inc. for never having placed any
restrictions on what we have been able to publish here. For
those interested in reading our publication policy,
especially as it applies to our invitation to others to
submit their manuscripts, please click here:
- To return to your place in the
text click here:
 A Square Division is a designation
given to one of the ways military Divisions can be
organized. In a square organization, the Division's main
body is composed of four Regimental elements. Since
a Regiment could be split into separate Battalions for
tactical purposes, the natural Division within a Division
would be to have two Regiments bound together as a Brigade.
On an organizational chart and if the entire Division were
formed up in the field, the two Brigades of two Regiments
would typically form a square, hence the name.
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text click here:
 Source for comments re. compromise of
Operation Junction City, Wikipedia.
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text click here:
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