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August 2017

— This Month —

Follow The Dots

–  Assessing The Life Of A Signal Corps Officer 



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.



ArmySignalOCS Editor

It's Hard To Judge Your Life When You're Still Living It

It’s hard to judge your life when you’re still living it. But then again, after you’re gone, it’s even harder to figure out if your time on earth made a difference or not. After all, very few people come back from the dead, sit down at their computer, exclaim “Eureka! I’ve finally figured out what my life was all about!” and start typing away.

If you’re going to tell someone about your life, and what it meant to you, you had better get busy, because time is running out.

This website is dedicated to trying to capture the essence of the life of those Army Signal Corps OCS graduates that served. Likely as not, if you are reading this, that means you.

For a few of you, we have been able to do that. We’ve been able to capture the essence of your life because you took the time to write of your life—military life, mostly—and send it to us. Which, upon receipt we then posted on a mini-bio page on this website… a page dedicated to you.

We did—and still do—this for a reason. The reason is that we feel your life matters.

You served your country.

Not only that, you served it in war.

Not only that, but you served it voluntarily, when so many others did all they could to avoid serving.

In our view you are special… because you stepped forward and gave to your country, and asked nothing in return.

We think the world should know why you did that.

The world to come...Not just the world around you today, but the world to come. Someday, 200 years or more from now, people will want to know why it was you served your country. Who were you, what was your life like, what did you think of the world you lived in, your friends, your family, the Army, combat, death?

Just as in the case of the writings of Civil War soldiers, the life you lead now—mundane as it may seem to  you as each day passes—when read far in the future, will help open the eyes of some member of that future society… a member perhaps struggling to make sense of his or her own life.

How will this happen? It will happen because the stories we are collecting here will, once we are too old to do this anymore, be submitted as part of an archive to our nation’s National Archives. There they will be housed and be available to read by all that come onto this earth…forever.

Why do we do this?

Because we know something that you probably never thought of. And that is that it is only with the passage of time… lots of time… that the value of a life can be understood.

Read your life story today, and it will probably sound boring to you. Flat, a relatively useless life… without meaning. But read it 50 years from now, and you’ll see that suddenly all of the little idiosyncrasies, oddities, happenstance occurrences, road blocks, failed loves, frustrated efforts, and everything else that stymied you and tripped you up as you moved through it—making you think that nothing about your life makes any sense—will suddenly fall into place and have meaning.

Literally. It’s true.

Amerasian - Vietnam WarSomeone 50 years from now that reads of the time you slowed your jeep and gave those kids on the side of the road, in some ramshackled village in Cao nguyên Trung phần (the Central Highlands) those few pieces of candy you had in your pocket, or the lady you met in Wernberg, Germany, in April 1945… the one aimlessly walking the street, covered in filth and torn winter cloths… the one you gave your K-rations to… will instantly understand why you acted the way you did.  They will know from reading of these simple encounters not just why you served, but what made America America back then.

For you today, these are forgotten memories. But for those still to come… your grandchildren, their grandchildren, and the future world at large, these little stories will help provide the foundation upon which their values will be gained.

Let us show you how true this is… and then please, take the time to sit down and start writing your story.

Please, read the next section.

Follow The Dots

Lieutenant Joseph Passantino

Click to enlarge

Assessing The Life Of A Signal Corps Officer

Army Signal OCS Graduate Lt. Joseph Ernesto Passantino, OCS Class 43-15

– All photos in the following article –
– were taken by Lieutenant Passantino –

The story we have here tells of a soldier much like you… someone who lived what, by all means, was a rather ordinary life. Like most of our readers, he graduated Army Signal OCS and went on to serve his country in war.

His name is Passantino, Joseph Ernesto. After he graduated OCS Class 43-15 he was assigned to and served as a still and movie photographer stationed, somewhat surprisingly, in China—during WWII.

Kunming, China - 1944His initial duty station was Kunming, the capital of the Nationalist government of China. Led by Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, the Nationalists, even at that early stage, were fighting both the Japanese, and Mao Zedong's self built army. While on the surface both of these armies were supposed to be cooperating with the United States in driving the Japanese out of China, the truth is they spent more time taking pot shots at each other, whenever they could, than fighting the Japs. Mao, as we now know today, spent nearly his whole time setting up ambushes for Chiang Kai-shek's army, fully avoiding the Japanese, rather than fight them. Mao, after all, was intent on defeating both the Japanese and the Nationalists, and then forming what we today call The People’s Republic of China.

Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shekAs for Lt. Passantino, after some time in Kunming his commanders sent him south, to command a Photo Detachment of 15 men. Their task was to cover the war campaigns in Southeastern China (then known as the China Burma India Theater, or “CBI”). A typical Army acronym, CBI was the United States military’s designation for the China and Southeast Asian theater of operations during WWII. It also encompassed most of the battles that took place in the India-Burma (IBT) theaters.

General "Vinegar" Joe Stillwell - China - 1944As Wikipedia tells us, “Operational command of Allied forces (including US forces) in the CBI was officially the responsibility of the Supreme Commanders for South East Asia or China.” In practice, this meant that Generalissimo Chiang ran the Chinese side of the operation, while General “Vinegar Joe” Stilwell, the Deputy Allied Commander in China, ran the U.S. side of the show… as well as almost everything else.

For Lieutenant Passantino, this meant that he got to work with a number of the well-known Allied units in the CBI, including Chiang’s Chinese Expeditionary Force, the Flying Tigers, transport and bomber units flying the Hump, the 1st Air Commando Group, the engineers who built the now famous Ledo Road, the 5307th Composite Unit—which was popularly known as “Merrill's Marauders”—and the 5332d Brigade, also known as “Mars Task Force,” which eventually assumed the Marauders' mission.

Of course… like the life you led during your time in Vietnam, none of these units—or people—were famous back then. Like you during your time at war, everyone was just doing their job.

From April through June 1944, Lieutenant Passantino spent his time running around Southeast China. After that the Army sent him back to Kunming. There he ran a Photo Laboratory composed of 28 men, this time from July 1944 to June 1945. But as is typical of the Army, as though this wasn’t enough, when things got hot in the field, he was sent out to cover that action too.

Thus he found himself assigned to cover the Salween Campaign (links for background story on this battle here and here; note photos in first link were probably taken by Lt. Passantino himself). The Salween Campaign involved a ferocious fight aimed at re-opening the Burma Road… but again, back at the time of its happening, the world just yawned as the battle progressed.

Continued at top of page, COLUMN AT RIGHT

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This page last updated 14 August 2017. New content is constantly being added. Please check back frequently.

Update 14 August SHORT NOTICE! 221st Signal Company REUNION! Atlanta, Georgia; September 14 -- 18. CLICK HERE TO REGISTER!!


Update 7 July – Registered yet for the 2017 Army Signal OCS Reunion? No? How could you miss it? It's time to settle down and register right now! Click here Go to Reunion Registration Page to see who has already registered, then click on the bottom of the page and register yourself! Do it now Smack!


2017 Army Signal OCS Reunion

Continued from left column...

Flying the Hump, WWIITechnically, the fight was the final major battle fought by the Chinese against Japan in 1944–1945. Again, its purpose was to open up the blockaded Burma Road supply route from India, as well as to drive Japanese forces from northern Burma. This was necessary as the road involved was the primary path along which war supplies travelled into Yunnan, and then northeastward into the heart of China.

Lt. Passantino shot film of this campaign, which involved Chinese troops directly commanded and led by General Stilwell. The highlight of the battle occurred on 11 May, when about 40,000 Chinese of the Chinese Expeditionary Force crossed the Salween river, followed shortly thereafter by another 60,000. A hard fought battle, between 17,000 and 19,000 Chinese, along with 15,000 Japanese, were killed in the fight.

Despite their higher casualty rate, the Chinese prevailed, after which they continued to take back from the Japanese towns and cities along the river, right up to the end of the war in 1945.

Reading this here, 70 odd years from the fight, it sounds impressive… and it was… just not to those who fought it on that day, and at that time. For them, it was just another day at work. Yet if it weren’t for Lt. Passantino’s photos and stories of the people and events of that battle, today few would know how important America’s contribution was to China’s battle to throw off the Japanese invaders that took control of its country, and regain its own independence. Indeed, if it weren’t for people like Joe Passantino and those who fought alongside of him, the citizens of The People’s Republic of China today would be speaking Japanese.

We say again—with no affront meant to those that participated in this battle, or any other—what makes these events and stories impressive is the passage of time. Comparing Lt. Passantino’s life in combat to yours in WWII, Korea or Vietnam… on the surface, nothing stands out… that is, not—in Lt. Passantino’s case—back then in 1943 – 1945… nor in your case in 1951 in Korea, or 1967 in Vietnam. Joe’s work back then was no more exciting than the work you did in your time at war… and just like in his case, your story needs to be told too.

We rest our case. Army Signal OCS Class 43-15 graduate Lt. Joe Passantino took the time during his life to tell his story. You should too. Whether you do so via the pictures you took back when you served, or through the use of a page length mini-bio, take the time now to archive your experiences so that those yet to come can read of your life, views and values.

Don't let the idea of writing your own story intimidate you. What you write need not be any longer than a few paragraphs. For an example of what we are talking about, take a moment to read the mini-bio Candidate Don Fedynak, OCS Class 04-68, wrote and sent to us back in 2009 Donald Fedynak Mini-Bio. It’s simple, short and elegant. Reading the few paragraphs he wrote one gets an instant image of  the man… his values, his beliefs, and his recognition that the small part he played in the Vietnam War might someday prove to be larger than perhaps anything he did in his life. You too can write such a story of your life. Just give it a try.

U.S. Army signal Corps lieutenant Joseph PassantinoAs for Lieutenant Joe Passantino, we are indebted to his daughter, Ms. Nina Beck, and her cousin, Paul Passantino, for providing us with Nina's Dad's pictures. All total they sent to Major Richard Green (R), our Archivist, over 1,000 printed photos and slides. He in turn digitized them, and through his and her good work and graces they appear here... eventually to be forwarded for safe keeping to the National Archives.

Once again... in your efforts you need not try to match the quantity of material Joe Passantino amassed in his effort... after all, it was Joe’s duty while in the Army to take pictures. All you need do is craft a short story of your life.

- - - - -

What follows are some of the pictures Lieutenant Passantino took while in service to America, along with our comments on how such simple actions on his part back then could have such profound meaning today, 70+ years later. Your life, like his, may hold equal relevance a hundred years from now... but the world will never know if you don't tell your story.

Enjoy what follows.



One of the things that gives meaning to Lieutenant Passantino's pictures and story is that his military work covers the war in China. Like the war in Korea... which never ended, and Vietnam, which ended with us walking away and declaring victory, while our enemy took over the country we vacated, the war in China—while of seeming little value or importance at the time—turned out to be of enormous importance when geopolitical things changed 60 years later.

China WWIIToday, as we all know, China is a global giant, vying to take our position as the dominant economic, political and military power on earth. That makes its recent history—especially how it got to where it is today—important. This becomes doubly so when one begins to understand that what happened within China during WWII is pretty much off limits as a topic, as far as today's Communist government is concerned. That is, they don't want it publicized within China that it was the Nationalist soldiers that did the real fighting and drove the Japanese out of China, not Mao's communist rebels.

The net result of all of this is that within The People's Republic of China today there is virtually nothing in the way of information, stories or pictures of what life was like during WWII. To allow such information to circulate freely among the public would put to lie all of the propaganda that the Communist politicians have blabbered for the past 70 plus years.

China - 1944Thus, unbeknownst to Lieutenant Passantino—as may be the case in your own time in service—his personal story of what he did in China in the midst of WWII now comprises one of the treasure troves of Asian history. Lieutenant Passantino's situation is clear to see. For you though, the only way to tell if your time in the Signal Corps accrued any value for humanity or not is to let time pass. Follow the dots of your life, write them down, and let time pass, and you may be surprised to find that some small thing you did while serving your country in WWII, Korea or Vietnam ended up making a difference to society as a whole.

Continuing with the uniqueness of Lieutenant Passantino's archive of photos of China during WWII, not only does his work gain merit because it presents a case that flies in the face of the story China's leaders tell today about who defeated the Japanese,  but it does the same as regards the Nationalists that rule Taiwan today too.

When WWII ended Mao's rebels took to the field in mass, and through a cunning maneuver called the Long March essentially defeated the Nationalist Army. The result was that Chiang Kai-shek and his men decamped to Taiwan, where their offspring continue to rule today—protected of course by Uncle Sam.

What is strange about this is that just as on the mainland where the Communists don't want attention brought to what really happened in WWII, the men ruling Taiwan don't want attention brought to this subject either.

Chinese NationalistsIn their case however it's because a focus on how they behaved during and post WWII would shine light on the enormous extent of corruption the Nationalists fostered. This corruption is what cost them the country they fought so valiantly to win control over.

Because they were so busy post-WWII lining their pockets with money, influence and power, they failed to see Mao's army of rebels slowly defeating them at each engagement, until for all practical purposes Mao had won the minds and hearts of the people of China, and taken control of the country. While Mao was busy feeding the stomachs of the starving post-WWII, Chiang Kai-shek and his generals were busy gluttonously feeding themselves.

Thus on two fronts the pictures Lieutenant Passantino took tell a story that none of the ruling Chinese of today want to see told... not the Communists, nor the Nationalists. It's for this reason that the archive he created is so valuable, providing humanity some 70 years after the fact with the truth behind the story.

As for the people of the war in China, the most poignant of Lt. Passantino's pictures are those of children. In their innocent eyes one can see both why we fight wars, and why we should not.

Consider these:

- Click the center of any picture to see full size -

Children of war torn China, 1944

Our thanks to Ms. Nina Beck, daughter of Lieutenant Passantino. Click here to read Lieutenant Passatino's personal story on his bio page. Over the next few months we will add more pictures to his bio page from his archive. Be sure to bookmark it and visit again soon.



2017 OCS Reunioin List of Attendees

**REUNION ALERT**  Our Reunion is proving to be so popular that the Westin Dulles Airport Hotel is concerned about being sold out for that weekend.


The Room rate is still $109. Those who reserved earlier at the mistake-rate of $116 will have their bill adjusted and credited the difference at check-out. If the hotel sells out, they have an over-flow agreement with the hotel next door. Don't miss this opportunity to be a part of our best reunion ever.





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