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— This Month —
Follow The Dots
– Assessing The Life Of A Signal
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.
It's Hard To Judge Your Life When You're Still
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
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
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.
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,
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
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.
Someone 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
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
Follow The Dots
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
OCS Class 43-15 he was assigned
to and served as a still and movie photographer
stationed, somewhat surprisingly, in China—during
His initial duty station was Kunming, the
capital of the Nationalist government of China.
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
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
People’s Republic of China.
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
As 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
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
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
Thus he found himself assigned to cover the
Salween Campaign (links
for background story on this battle
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.
This page last updated 14 August 2017.
New content is constantly being added. Please check back
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Company REUNION! Atlanta, Georgia; September 14 -- 18. CLICK
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Continued from left column...
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
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
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.
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
- - - - -
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
- Click the center of any picture to see
full size -
Our thanks to Ms. Nina Beck, daughter of Lieutenant
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
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