Play our music game. See if you can
find the hidden Army marches on our site. Click the icons you find on
each page. Some have music hidden behind them, others do not. Good luck!
Music courtesy USAREUR Band
To follow us on Twitter, click here!
Click below to
Click below to check out our Facebook page.
— This Month —
The Signal Corps & The
The 4th Signal Company & Motorized Infantry
- - - - -
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.
Ho Ho Ho... it's Christmas time again.
years, like this year, it seems to take an extra
effort to get into the holiday spirit. We think
that this year it is proving harder than most to
develop our jingle-step because of the
appalling, unprofessional, contemptible way in
which our nation's Presidential race was just
run. Based on the way the two candidates for
President conducted themselves, they achieved
little more than to embarrass us before the
entire world. Thanks to Donald Trump and Hillary
Clinton, we are now the laughing stock of the
Fortunately, with Christmas upon us, we have a
chance now to show the world that despite the
boorishness and lack of civility that
Trump-Clinton displayed over the past year, the
rest of us that live in this country do
have values, morals, ethics and integrity.
Which brings us to our point: one way to get
into the holiday spirit is to pause to reflect
on Christmas stories of the past. Like nothing
else, all of those wonderful, joyous stories of
Christmases past bring to our mind and soul a
certain peacefulness and love both of and for
humanity. Like nothing else, Christmas brings
out the good in all of us.
Take for example a story we ran across about a
certain Marine General. In most cases we do not
talk on this website of the other branches of
service, never mind people within them. It's not
that we do not like the Marines, Navy or Air
Force per se, it's just that compared
to us Army guys the men and women in these
branches just don't hold a candle to us (cough,
In this case though, the story we have for you is
different. It shows that not only within the
military do the best of men exist, but that
their character is above the norm.
The story we have for you here has to do with
Marine General James “Mad Dog” Mattis. Yes, that
one… the one Donald Trump is considering for the
position of Secretary of Defense. Regardless of
whether he receives the appointment or not, the
Christmas story of how General Mattis handles
the holidays is a good one. It speaks to how all
of us, former U.S. Army Officers all, think when
it comes to the matter of our obligation to
The story was originally told by General Charles
C. Krulak, the former Commandant of the Marine
Corps. As the story goes, at Christmas time
General Krulak and his wife used to bake
“hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of Christmas
cookies,” which they would then package in small
bundles and, on Christmas day, drive around and
deliver to the troops. Starting at 4 a.m.,
General Krulak would make the trip to every
Marine guard post in the
Washington-Annapolis-Baltimore area, and deliver
a small package of Christmas cookies to whatever
Marines were pulling guard duty that day.
He said that one year while making his rounds he
stopped at the Command Center to give a package
to the Lance Corporal on duty. While talking to
the soldier General Krulak asked “Who’s the
Officer of the Day?”
The Lance Corporal answered, “Sir, it’s
Brigadier General Mattis.”
Krulak responded, “No, no, no. I know who
General Mattis is. I mean, who’s the Officer of
the Day today, Christmas day?”
With a bit of an anxious tone in his voice, the
Lance Corporal responded again “Sir, it is
Brigadier General Mattis.”
Glancing past the Lance Corporal at the sleeping
room in the back of the Command Center, Krulak
pointed to the cot in it and said with great
clarity… “No, Lance Corporal. Who slept in
that bed last night?”
Confused again about what was about to befall
him, the Lance Corporal responded with equal
clarity, “Sir, it was Brigadier General Mattis.”
Fortunately for both of them, before the
conversation could go any farther General Mattis
entered the building. Bounding in one step he
came through the door in complete duty uniform,
accompanied by his sword of command, hanging by
Surprised, General Krulak asked, “Jim, what are
you doing here on Christmas day? Why do you have
Without missing a beat, General Mattis told him
that he had heard that the young Officer who was
scheduled for OD duty on Christmas day had a
family, and that he, General Mattis, thought it
was better for the young Officer to spend
Christmas Day with his family than cooped up in
the Command Center. So with that he swapped duty
with the man.
what General Mattis did is probably no more than
what many of us Army Signal Corps Officers have
done for our own men, the point is that he did
it… as we may have too. That’s what makes U.S.
military men great. That’s what makes Army men
great. That’s what makes America great. And
that’s what makes Christmas worthwhile as a
season… because when great men remember the
blessings God gave to us, they spread those
blessings to their fellow man.
Happy Holidays all...
The Signal Corps & The Motorized Infantry
Most of our readers know that the U.S.
Air Force was founded and brought into existence by the
Signal Corps. Organized under the name United States Army
Air Service, the concept of having an air borne means of
combat came into existence on 2 July 1926, as an element of
the U.S. Army Signal Corps. Notwithstanding its name being
the U. S. Army Air Service, the unit quickly became known to
all as the United States Army Air Corps (USAAC); and as we
all know, when it finally got its act together and figured
out what role it wanted to play in the U.S. military, the
Signal Corps bid it adieu and sent it off on its own,
this time with the name the United States Army Air
Forces (USAAF)... fully formed as a new branch of the U.S.
As for why the Signal Corps was
selected to bring the Air Corps into existence in the first
place, part of the reason had to do with the advanced levels
of technology that were required to keep planes flying under
combat conditions back then. In everything from radio
communications to the use of the then early stages of RADAR,
technical experts like those found in the Signal Corps were
needed in order to keep combat aircraft in the air.
For the Signal Corps then, credit can
be given to the fact that without America's Signaleers our
military would never have had an Air Force… or at least not
until much later, far beyond when it was most needed… back
at the beginning of WWII.
Yet interesting as this story is, it
is not the only example of the Signal Corps being called
upon to stand up a new type of combat unit. At the same time
as it was wrestling with how to make the Air Force a
cohesive fighting unit, the War Department asked the Signal
Corps to do something similar on behalf of the infantry…
by finding some way to give the infantry the mobility it
needed to fight modern wars.
In this instance though the concept
centered around creating a new motorized form of combat,
something that would add speed to the infantry’s
On the surface, the logic was sound.
Just as in the case of the Air Force, where the idea of
combat aircraft taking control of the skies above the
soldiers on the ground made sense, so too did the idea of
moving infantry soldiers around on the ground more rapidly
and with greater precision than had hitherto been possible,
so as to improve their combat effectiveness. The question
was, how to do this?
Needless to say, the answer was to do
the same as in the case of the Army Air Corps: put a motor
between the legs of the combatants and let them have at it.
And so it came to be that the Signal
Corps was told to build, train and equip a motorized
infantry division… America's first ever. That unit became
known as the U.S. Army's 4th Motorized Infantry Division,
and it was the Signal Corps, at Fort Gordon, Georgia, that
brought it up to speed by sharpening through training its
newly ordained motorized combat skills... out back on the
sandy patches of pine forest at Fort Gordon, Georgia.
Better known as the “Ivy Division,”
the 4th Motorized Infantry Division was the first
division-sized unit to be put under the temporary wing of
the Signal Corps for the purpose of receiving technical
innovation and advanced motorized training. Fort Gordon,
called Camp Gordon back then—all fresh and clean in 1941
from a just completed round of expansion and
construction—proved the perfect home for the 4th.
Reorganized from its old foot soldier
infantry division status into a temporary motorized division
(in August, 1941), the unit was assigned (along with the 2nd
Armored Division) as part of the newly formed
I Armored Corps, under the command of Lieutenant
General George S. Patton.
Prior to landing at Fort Gordon the unit
had kicked around in the
South, training first in Louisiana (August 1941), then in
Carolina (October 1941), before finally ending up at Fort
Benning. As its training progressed and it became clear that
the concept of motorized maneuver was proving hard to
perfect, the Army directed the Signal Corps to step in and develop a
communication backed method of field maneuver for motorized
units, something that would allow the unit to appear on the
field of combat as a cohesive whole, able to take battle to
the enemy, rather than spend its time recovering from enemy
efforts against it.
In this manner the division found
transferred to Camp
Gordon, Georgia, in December 1941—the very same month
that America entered World
At Camp Gordon the Signal Corps
transformed the unit from being one based purely
onmotorized maneuver principles to one that incorporated
elements of mechanized
For the uninformed, at that time, and still today as with NATO,
motorized infantry was considered as being infantry that
was transported to the field of combat by trucks or
other un-protected motor vehicles. In this way motorized
infantry was distinguished from both light infantry, which
marched into battle or was dropped there via airborne
mechanized infantry, which typically took its place in
battle via armored
personnel carriers or infantry
the Signal Corps’ technology, backing, training and help,
the 4th Motorized Infantry Division improved on its basic
level of motorization by augmenting its means of transport
with tactical radio nets able to turn this most basic form
of maneuver from one based on mobility into one where the
mobile aspect of troop deployment and transportation took on
overtones of mechanized war fighting. Thus the 4th went from
being a motorized unit to a hybrid motorized–mechanized
unit; one that that was able to use its transport to
maximize its tactical battlefield capabilities.
Back in 1941 then, the Signal Corps was already looking for
ways to overcome the inherent flaws that resulted when
infantry units were turned into motorized infantry units.
Motorizing an infantry unit, while advantageous in many
ways, was, as far as the Signal Corps was concerned, only
the first step towards the goal of providing strategic
mobility for a fighting force. It represented only the first
stage towards the mechanization of an army.
The problem was that while trucks were readily adaptable to
military uses for transporting soldiers, towing guns and
carrying equipment and supplies into battle, their lack of
armor and off road limitations created as many problems as
they solved. Further, motorization per se provide no direct
tactical advantage in small unit combat, because the
vehicles available at the time were vulnerable
to artillery and small arms fire. It wasn’t until the Signal
Corps came along, using the 4th Motorized Infantry Division
as its proof of concept, to show the rest of the Army
how—with improved, mobile field communications—these units,
especially in larger battles, could gain the home field
advantage in tactical mobility that their underlying
This page last updated 8 December 2016.
New content is constantly being added. Please check back
received an updated mini-bio from Candidate Robert L.
Fisher, OCS Class 10-67. We've posted it on a private bio
page for him, along with a picture he sent along. Be sure to
read it! Either click onhis OCS Class Page,
and then on his
highlighted name on the page to get to it, or clickhereto jump directly to his bio
– In early November we received a copy of the Class Picture for Army Signal OCS Class
66-17A. H. Don Hamilton of that class, working with Major
(R) Green, managed to find one and send it along to us.
We've finally got it
posted on the Class Page, so
click here to see it. And...
if you have a few pictures from your own class, or your time
in the service, send them along to us and we'll add them to
your Class Page.
Continued from left column...
Thus it was that the Signal Corps
made its case that a communication integrated motorized
infantry division could move to critical sectors of a
battlefield faster, in ways that allowed them to mount
better responses to enemy movements, towards the end goal of
fully outmaneuvering and containing the enemy.
With its Signal Corps training behind
it, in April 1943 the 4th Motorized Infantry Division was
transferred to Fort Dix, New Jersey, where it once again was
reconfigured and redesignated… this time as simply the 4th
Infantry Division... after which in January it set sail for
England for pre-invasion training.
June 1944 the 4th Infantry Division joined with the other
Allied armies in crossing the Channel, as part of the D-day
invasion of Nazi occupied France. On that day, as one of
four designated “companies” of the 8th Infantry Regiment,
they splashed ashore along a 2-mile stretch of Utah Beach,
on the Cherbourg peninsula. There they cleared obstacles,
brought ashore their motorized transportation, fired up
their radio nets, and rushed the enemy positions behind the
For us today, far removed from that
day, what the 4th Division did was unique. In real time,
under real combat conditions, it proved that it was possible
to integrate soldiers, communication technologies and
mechanized equipment on a large scale. Seventy-three years
ago, this Signal Corps induced prototype of a “motorized”
division showed how it was possible to bring together 20,000
men into a cohesive fighting force centered around the use
of over 1,700 high-tech vehicles and equipment, to create a
new form of an infantry division… something the infantry had
not done until that point.
As for how the Signal Corps assured
that the ground pounders in the 4th Division stuck to their
training and kept to the combat communication protocols
developed for them, this they did by embedding into the
division the 4th Signal Company. A unit fully at the
forefront of military technology at the time, the 4th Signal
Company made sure that the walkie-talkies, mobile radios,
telegraph, and motor and foot messengers spread throughout
the division all played their part in imparting to the
infantry boys the true scope of the field of battle.
Together, under the command of Maj. Gen. Raymond O. Barton,
the 4th Infantry Division, with its keystone unit the 4th
Signal Company acting as the glue that held it together, not
only took to the field of battle but controlled it.
In short order the men broke through
German lines along the shore, fighting their way inland to
meet up with members of the 82nd Airborne Division at St.
For those of you reading our story
closely and thinking the name Barton that we just mentioned
above may ring a bell, it should... for Barton Field, a plot
of land at Fort Gordon we have all marched across endless
times, was named after Maj. General Raymond O. Barton, the
4th Infantry Division commander that took the Signal Corps
trained 4th Motorized Infantry Division to war.
Here then we
will end our story of how the
Signal Corps perfected the model of how a motorized infantry
division should work.
As for the 4th Infantry Division, its WWII story continued.
Under Maj. General Barton’s leadership the unit went on to
fight through France, assault the Siegfried line in Germany,
act as a central player in the Battle of the Bulge and the
Hurtgen Forest, and more. In all, the 4th Infantry Division,
along with the 4th Signal Company, took part in five
campaigns: Normandy (with arrowhead), Northern France,
Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace, and Central Europe. The unit
also earned a Meritorious Unit Commendation along with three
commendations from Belgium.
The 4th Signal Company & Motorized Infantry
• • •
In the column at left we looked at how the Signal Corps
brought import and substance to the concept of motorizing an
infantry unit. Specifically, we looked at how the
motorization of an infantry unit added little in the way of
value to the infantry’s capabilities, other than to create
out of the unit a more tempting, centralized moving target
for the enemy to shoot at. Our point was that whether at the
company, battalion or division level, unless motorization
was accompanied by some form of mobile communication—which
in turn had to be layered upon a matching protocol of
maneuver—there was little benefit to be had.
The Signal Corps, by bringing communication technology to
the equation in a way that enabled the marriage of mobility
with a more effective form of command and control over
maneuver, turned the concept of motorizing an infantry unit
into a winning formula. Specifically, the strategic
underpinning the Signal Corps brought to the bargain—as in
the case of the 4th Motorized Infantry Division—made the
whole concept workable. But what of the tactical elements
that were needed to bring the idea to life? How was that to
Not surprisingly, the tactical elements that underwrote the
operational aspects of how a motorized infantry unit would
maneuver in combat was brought to life by the inclusion, in
each infantry unit, of a Signals company. Thus it was with
the 4th Motorized Infantry Division (a.k.a. 4th Infantry
Division) that when the Signal Corps finished overseeing its
training at Fort Gordon and sent the unit on to war in
Europe, it sent along with it a Signal Company, in the form
of the 4th Signal Company.
The 4th Signal Company’s task then was to underwrite the
strategic concept of a mobile communication platform for a
division level infantry unit, via an actual messaging
service able to provide the real time intelligence required
for the unit to coordinate its mobile activities. That is,
the 4th Signal Company used its tactical capability to
communicate while in motion to actually create the strategic
value that it was intended would come from the integration
of effective forms of mobile communication, within a
motorized infantry unit, with mobile focused maneuver and
We might say then that where the Signal Corps developed the
strategic elements that made the motorized infantry units of
WWII an effective fighting force, it was companies like the
4th Signal Company that gave tactical substance and sting to
the combat that took place.
If one looks at the combat history of the 4th Signal
Company, one can see this to be true, as during the 4th
Motorized Infantry Division’s drive across Europe, the 4th
Signal Company provided all of the communications support
the 4th Motorized Infantry Division required. In the process
it took part in some of the heaviest fighting of the
European Theater of Operations, including, as said in our
column at left, the Battles of the Hurtgen Forest and the
In all, the 4th Signal Company took part in five campaigns,
earning plaudits for their work coming ashore in Normandy
(with arrowhead, which indicates participation by a unit in
an amphibious assault landing), Northern France, Rhineland,
Ardennes-Alsace, and Central Europe. The company also earned
a Meritorious Unit Commendation along with three
commendations from Belgium.
Above the unit awards the 4th Signal Company earned however
was still its charge to provide tangible, tactical support
for the 4th Infantry Division… support of a type that would
enable the Division to fight more effectively, given the
strategic forms of mobile communication the Signal Corps had
designed for it. In this regard, one of the missing
components of the Signal Corps’ overarching strategy for how
a motorized infantry unit should communicate was the one
relating to how best to encrypt communication so that the
enemy could not read the signals being intercepted.
It was here where the 4th Signal Company really earned its
stripes, for while many have heard the stories of the famous
Code Talkers of WWII, it was with the 4th Signal Company
that this concept first gained both ground and credibility.
Taking a page from the Army’s war fighting efforts of
WWI (yes, World War I)—where the Army employed several Choctaw Indians to
handle communications along the Western Front, wherein the
Indian’s used their native language to confound the
Germans who intercepted their messages—in WWII it was the
4th Signal Company that pressured the Signal Corps into
making this unorthodox means of communication a standard
form of encryption available to Motorized Infantry units.
Thus it was that back at Fort Gordon, in early 1941, that
the Signal Corps decided to resurrect the WWI Indian code
talking concept and ready it for deployment among Motorized
Infantry Companies in WWII. In the case of the 4th Signal
Company, they just happened to be the ones that first brought it
to battle… in support of the 4th Infantry Division’s efforts
For the 4th Signal Company’s code talking squad, the Army
selected seventeen Comanche Indians, transferred them to the
Signal Corps, and prepared them to be used as code talking
communicators on the field of battle. One by one, as they
completed their training, these 17 were assigned to the 4th
Signal Company, under the command of
Second Lieutenant Hugh F Foster.
During their training at Fort Gordon the Comanches compiled
a vocabulary of over 100 military
terms. At times they had to be creative as words for certain
types of ordnance did not exist in their native language.
For example, since there was no Comanche word for tank, the
Comanche code-talkers used their word for turtle. Similarly,
while the Comanches had a word for airplane they had none
for bomber, and so named bombers “pregnant airplanes.”
Machine guns became “sewing machines,” because of their
similar sounds... and Adolph Hitler became the “crazy white
man,” which in Comanche is posah-tai-vo.
Each of the three infantry regiments (the 8th, 12th and 22d)
that made up the 4th Infantry Division had two Comanche
code-talkers assigned to it. The remainder were assigned to
Not surprisingly, the value of these code-talkers became
evident within a few minutes of their hitting Utah Beach. As
they followed the infantry up the beach, fighting each step
of the way to get over the sand dunes and beach barriers and
move on towards designated inland gathering places, the 4th
Infantry Division and their 4th Signal Company code-talkers
encountered intense, crippling German fire.
Pinned down while still on the beach, the very first radio
message sent was by the 4th Signal Company, in Comanche,
stating simply and without equivocation “Five miles to the
right of the designated area and five miles inland, the
fighting is fierce and we need help.”
Seaborne artillery barrages soon cleared the target spot,
allowing the 4th Division to move forward.
The 4th Signal Company’s code-talkers served with
distinction, both upon landing and throughout the remainder
of the war. Yet it was not their unique form of encryption
that should be most noted, it was the Signal Corps’
determination to add tactical substance to strategic
thinking, in ways that made the efficacy of motorized
infantry a reality.
Because of the speed of maneuver motorization and
mechanization gave the infantry, the real time reactionary
command and control commanders gained from mobile
communication—such that they could "dominate an area of
situation"—and the equally real time encrypted form of
communication that the Comanches brought to the table, the
Germans found themselves constantly left footed.
After World War II the 4th Signal Company briefly served
with the occupation forces in Germany before returning to
the United States (July 1945). There it was assigned to Camp
Butner, North Carolina.
There the company sat around waiting for another
war to mount, until 1946, when it was inactivated on 23
February. Then, two years later it was reactivated one more
time and sent to Fort Ord. There it sat for nine more years,
until on 1 April 1957 it was again reorganized. This time
its name was changed to the 124th Signal Battalion, and the
unit sent to Fort Lewis, Washington. There—wonder of
wonders—it found itself assigned once again to the 4th
Infantry Division, where its story originally started.
On 25 September 1966 the unit found itself deployed to
Vietnam. There its mission included establishment and
operation of the 4th Infantry Division’s communication
system of signal centers, wire, radio trunk and local lines,
as well as all of the normal radio/wire integration stations
that melded these forms of communication into one real
During its time in Vietnam, the 124th Signal Battalion took
part in eleven campaigns and participated in some of the
heaviest fighting of the war, including the battle for Dak
To and the Tet Offensive. In Vietnam, as it had done in
Europe in WWII, the unit earned its stripes.
The First Platoon, Company B, 124th Signal Battalion, earned
a Presidential Unit Citation for extraordinary heroism
against enemy forces at Dak To for the period 29 October –
30 November 1967. Company B also earned a Valorous Unit
Award while attached to 3d Brigade, 4th Infantry Division,
for actions in Quang Ngai Province.
The entire battalion earned two awards of the Republic of
Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm, along with a Republic
of Vietnam Civil Action Honor Medal, First Class.
On 7 December 1970, the 124th Signal Battalion departed
Vietnam and returned to Fort Lewis.
Its post-Vietnam years were just as remarkable, with the
unit serving in Kuwait, as well as in Operation Iraqi
Freedom. Eventually though, with the downsizing that colored
the years of the 2000’s, the unit found itself once again on
the chopping block. By 2004, with all of the reorganization
that was taking place, it was inevitable that the 124th
would meet its maker once again. On 16 December 2004 the
124th was deactivated, and remains inactive to this day.
Still, one cannot help but marvel at how the combination of
the Signal Corps as an agency, and a lowly little unit in
the form of the 4th Signal Company out of Fort Gordon,
Georgia, were able to combine their efforts to developed and
bring to the fore an effective means for a motorized
infantry division to engage in combat.
Their combined strategic thinking in terms of what was
needed to enable mobile combat, and the tactical methods,
approaches, policies, devices, and technology that was
necessary to enable the strategy to work, made it possible
for the U.S. Army to get a jump on mobile combat such that,
by the time Vietnam and the helicopter came along, the U.S.
Infantry was ready to launch an entirely new form of combat
Rauch, from a paper entitled "Fort
Gordon-trained Soldiers Hit the Beaches at Normandy 60 Years Ago."Click here to return to your
place in the text:
 After going through a period where the
concept of vehicularly motorized infantry went out of favor—in favor
of helicopter motorized troops e.g. in the Vietnam War—today the
concept is once again in vogue. In great measure this is because of
the changing nature of what exactly it is that the military does.
Today, because of the increasing use of our military in humanitarian
deployments, as well as for the purpose of acting as quasi-police
units, there is an increasing need to motorize infantry units. This,
plus the trend for motorized infantry to be up-armored to serve in
situations such as those relating to the kind of insurgency,
terrorism and search and clear missions we saw in post-invasion
Iraq, has once again created a need for a motorized infantry. Click here to return to your
place in the text:
Instructions — To search this site, enter your
search criteria in the box below: