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               - The Doran Brothers -

      Brendan Joseph, Arthur Fulton, and Lee George

Army Signal OCS Classes 42-02 and 42-06


New York Times - Doran Brothers StoryThe Doran brothers story is a fascinating story. Three brothers who came from diverse military posting to find themselves reunited at Ft. Monmouth, New Jersey… ready to undergo WWII Army Signal Corps training in preparation for war. How they got to Monmouth at the same time and what they did there is both well documented and well known, yet intriguingly sketchy around the edges too. And that’s where the fascination comes in.

Whether the brothers were clever enough to be able to collude in getting themselves stationed at Monmouth together, or were simply the lucky victims of a country gearing up for war, and how they helped each other work their way through the training programs they were each thrown into, will likely never be fully known. Suffice it to say, these three young men ended up enjoying a few short months together, and getting a little publicity in the process too.

Before going too far, let’s straighten out who’s who in this family:

The Three Amigos:

Brendan Joseph Doran (BJ), Army Signal OCS Class 42-02

Arthur Fulton Doran (Fulton), Army Signal OCS Class 42-02

            Lee George Doran (Lee), Army Signal OCS Class 42-06

In April 2012 Brendan Jeffrey Doran (Jeff), the son of one of the three brothers, was kind enough to send us the family story, along with a few photos of the brothers. Interestingly, one of the photos he sent was of Army Signal OCS Class 42-02. In it Jeff pointed out his father, Brendan Joseph Doran [see next to last picture below]. Yet when we checked the roster of graduates for that class, BJ’s name was not on the list… but his brother’s name was.

As Jeff tells the story “Brendan, or BJ as he became known in the military, had enlisted in the Air Corps in 1940, did basic at Rikers Island NY (then a military facility not a prison), then was sent to Hickham Field [in the Territory of Hawaii] in the headquarters ABG [Air Base Group]. When he got orders to the SCS [Signal Corps school] in mid-41 he tried to explain it must be an error but was told, of course, that the Army doesn't make mistakes. So off he went to New Jersey.”

It should be remembered that at this time the U.S. air force was called the Army Air Force, and was a branch of the Signal Corps, not a standalone branch of service. Not surprisingly then, since the Signal Corps ran the air force, it felt no compunction at all about assigning air force personnel wherever the Signal Corps felt they needed to be. Further, because of the need to coordinate communication on a service wide basis, the Signal Corps frequently sent enlisted men from branches like the air force, coast artillery, medical corps and others to Signal Corps schools, to assure that at least someone in those branches knew how the Army’s communication system worked and could help keep the lines of communication open under battlefield conditions.

Jeff continues the story… “It happened that his older brother, Arthur Fulton Doran, was actually in the Signal Corps and had come from his station in Panama to SCS at about the same time but in a different class.  With Fulton's help BJ mastered the Signal Corps course and was awarded his certificate of completion. But, because BJ was in the Air Corps he could not be commissioned by the Signal Corps, so was returned to Hickham in time for the Japanese visit there. Here are two pictures of Fulton and BJ while at SCS:

The Doran BrothersBrendan and Arthur Doran at Signal OCS Training“Fulton spent his career in the Signal Corps, was in Europe during the war and during the occupation and was in Korea. He retired in 1959 as a Lt. Col.

“BJ survived Hickham where he was a First Sgt, finally went to Air Corps OCS in the summer of '42, and stayed in the Air Force 32 years, ending as the Chief of the Manpower Directorate, J-1, Joint Chiefs of Staff, from '67 to '71.

“At the same time that Fulton and BJ were at Ft. Monmouth in SCOCS their younger brother Lee George Doran (his actual first name was Leo) was working there in the photo lab. Eventually Lee was in class 42-06 and was commissioned in the Signal Corps. His record shows that he was with Darby's Rangers in North Africa, but I haven't been able to find independent proof other than his service record. He was a leader of one of the combat photography teams in the 3264th Signal Services Company that had the run of the European Theater from Normandy to early 1946. When he mustered out he went to work for Universal Newsreel, first in Chicago and then in Washington DC. In June 1948 he was apparently in a hurry after covering the Annapolis graduation to get back to his new wife and their two month old son and was killed in an automobile accident in the Washington DC area. Here is a picture of Lee:”

Lee (Leo) Doran, Army Signal OCS Class 42-06Jeff ended by saying that he would be interested to know if there are other sources for information about these brothers. If any of our readers know more about the units involved, or the brothers themselves, please drop us a note and we will happily forward the information and your contact details on to Jeff.

As to the mystery behind this family’s story, it all centers around which OCS Class BJ was in, why he didn’t receive a Signal Corps commission, and why his brother’s name appears on the class roster instead of his.

Not surprisingly, for those in the know there really isn’t a mystery at all. To begin with, Jeff tells us that while Fulton’s name may appear on the Class roster for OCS Class 42-02, there is no doubt in his mind that in the Class Picture for this class the guy in the lower right corner is his father, BJ, and not his uncle Fulton. He knows this because as Jeff says “…the man in the picture I sent is definitely my dad. Fulton was 6’4” and my dad was barely 5’10”.  In pictures of the two of them together my dad comes up to about Fulton's chin. And they didn't look very much alike as you can tell from the two other pictures I sent you.” He carries on to say that “The writing on the back of the photos [Jeff sent to us] is in my dad's handwriting, and some of the names have the number next to their names circled—a practice [he] had throughout his career when he learned that someone he had known died or was promoted. He usually put stars when they made general, but there aren't any stars on this list. Finally, the picture is from Dad's WWII scrapbook.”

As to why Fulton’s name showed up on the Class roster, Jeff helped us pin down the answer to that too. He asked one of Fulton’s daughters if she had a copy of Fulton’s Signal Corps OCS Class photo, and she did. With her and Jeff’s kind help, a copy was sent along to us too. Picking Fulton out of the line of candidates, Jeff said “He is the tall Sgt. second from the right on the first row. I guess they lined up alphabetically.” [see last picture below]

Brendan Doran at Hickham FieldThat leaves only the issue of why BJ did not receive a Signal Corps commission upon graduation, why his name does not appear on the list of graduates, and whether he and Fulton were in fact in the same class together.

On the first two issue, at the time the three brothers were going through Signal OCS training the OCS program served two purposes. The first was to provide specialized Signal Corps training while the second was to train Company Grade Officers. Usually candidates that came from other branches of service (as in BJ's case) were sent not to receive an Officer's commission per se, but to receive the specialized communication training that was being given as part of the Signal OCS program. These candidates generally did not end up being promoted to Officers along with the rest of their “normal” Signal Corps classmates. Instead, at the end of the program they were sent back to their branch of service (e.g. the Army Air Corps), after which they would typically receive additional advanced individual training. Eventually, when all of their training was over, if they did well enough they would then cycle through their own branch's OCS program, and receive their commission there. That seems to be what happened in BJ's case... he went through Signal OCS, got his specialized training, then was sent back to the Army Air Corps, where he eventually finished off his officer training and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the Army Air Corps.

As to why BJ’s name does not appear on the Army Signal Corps OCS Association’s list of OCS graduates for Class 42-02, it’s because the list that comprises our records is not of Class graduates, but of those who received a commission to Second Lieutenant. Since BJ did not receive a Signal Corps commission, his name would not be on the list. Again, this is quite normal. We have in many cases seen the number of people who attended a Signal OCS Class exceed the number who received commissions by 40% or more. What happened to these people? In some cases they washed out, in others they were transferred mid class to another training program, while in many cases they successfully finished the program, received a certificate of completion, and were transferred back to a non-Signal Corps unit without receiving a commission.

Finally, as to whether BJ and Fulton were actually in the same class together, at the same time… there seems no doubt about that either. The thing that puts the stamp on this fact was a phrase in the first letter Jeff sent to us when he said that “With Fulton's help BJ mastered the Signal Corps course and was awarded his certificate of completion.”

As any graduate of Signal Corps OCS knows, there is no way on earth that an OCS Candidate would have the time, or be allowed, to work with another candidate in another class to help him with his class work. Every millisecond of a candidate’s day is taken up from the moment he hears reveille until the final call for lights out. Whether it is on legitimate training, KP duty, doing pushups, cleaning weapons, spit-shining boots, low crawling around the compound, or something else… every second of the day is filled with worthwhile work, make work, or busy work… take your pick… and it’s all overseen by an all seeing, all knowing TAC Officer. It would be impossible, simply impossible, to break from this routine to go to your brother’s aid in another unit or Company. It just couldn’t happen. The only way two OCS candidates could work together to support each other through the OCS course would be if they were both in the same class.

Considering that Jeff’s comment about Fulton helping BJ was unsolicited on our part, to us it says that this particular bit of information is a legitimate piece of the Doran family folklore. It’s not the kind of statement someone would make up… which makes it conclusive proof that BJ and Fulton were both in the same class. The fact that they are not in the same picture together is not relevant, as most classes at that time were so large that several pictures needed to be taken in order to get everyone in.

Our thanks to Jeff Doran for his sending along the photos of his father and his two brothers, and for sharing their family story with us. Our thanks too to the other family members that helped Jeff with the pictures he sent. Most especially we at the Army Signal Corps OCS Association wish to express our collective gratitude to the entire Doran family for the incredible sacrifices these three brave men made for our country. They represent the very best of the finest generation that ever lived, and you can be proud of them. As past and present Officers of the U.S. Army Signal Corps we are honored to carry their tradition forward.

Army Signal OCS Class 42-02 - Section 1

Army Signal Corps OCS Class 42-02 - Section 2



This page originally posted 08 May, 2012 

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