In October of 1994, several graduates of Signal Corps Officer
Candidate School and myself attended a reunion of the U.S. Army
Signal Corps OCS Association. It was a fledgling organization
that basically represented one Vietnam era class.
in existence for 3 years, it had not advanced beyond
the initial organizational efforts. By the end of that
meeting several of us from other classes found ourselves elected
to the board of directors and appointed to several other positions
in the Association.
Enroute home, I realized that I knew nothing about
the history of Signal Corps OCS, and soon discovered that
the Army knew little about it as well. Calling on all those
who were committed to making this Association work, we began the
task of building the organization.
Starting at Fort Gordon by going through a basement full of boxes,
the early Association members were able to acquire graduation
programs and senior review rosters. This provided a start to
determine who were the 2,300 graduates and some of the cadre of the
(Fort Gordon, GA) Vietnam era program.
Others folks began
working on a newsletter (called: "SIGNALS"), re-organizing the Secretary/Treasurer's
Office, and writing and clarifying the by-laws of the Association, all while
planning on the beginning of a national reunion to be held
We made contact with a few Korean War graduates, one of whom
was able to contribute a listing of the names of the men who graduated
from the Fort Monmouth, NJ program. Further efforts revealed that
there were 1,234 graduates in the 1952-1953 Korean War program.
Almost by accident we learned of the World War II Signal OCS program
at Fort Monmouth. We were shocked to discover that there
were 21,033 WW II graduates, and that no one had a list of them.
By Reunion 1995 we had approximately
300 people present or accounted for—graduates and cadre.
By Reunion 1996 we had 1,400 people present
or accounted for.
Now a real locator effort was mounted.
In 1997 and 1998, by begging each person we located for any orders
they had, we identified 12,740 graduates and cadre.
At Reunion 1997 that number was up to 3,300 and the rosters, and by the 1998 reunion we listed over 4,600 graduates and cadre (including 960 deceased). By January of 2002 there were 13,100 present or accounted for, which included 5,800 located and 7,300 reported as deceased. Over 100 of those deceased were KIAs - most of them killed in World War II.
In addition to locating or accounting for graduates, the Association has been in touch with 700 surviving family members. Nearly 12,000 more to find.
Now, in January 2002, the Association has grown to 1097 members with 382 of those signed on as
Life members. Some military members of note are LTG (R) Emmett Page Jr., class 10-52 (former Assistant
Secretary of Defense); LTG (R) Harold A. Kissinger, class 35-44; LTG (R) Thomas M. Rienzi, WW II Tac; LTG (R) Robert E. Gray, class 7-66 (former Deputy CG USAREUR); MG (R) Jack Albright, class 5-42; MG (R) William B. Latta, WW II Tac; MG (R) John E. Hoover, WW II Instructor; MG (R) Gerard P. Brohm, class 15-67; MG (R) David R. Gust, class 25-67 (PEO for IEW systems at Ft Monmouth); MG (R) Robert L. Nabors, class 23-67; plus 11 BGs, 322 Colonels (R), 656 LTCs, 454 Majors, 102 Captains, etc. on the roster. In addition, those who chose civilian life after their graduation and service are also an illustrious group from all walks of life.
Until this Association was formed, these men who served their
country with honor and valor had been forgotten. Our purpose
is to identify, locate and reunite them, to restore old friendships
and to create new ones.
Furthermore, we seek to restore the history
of Signal Corps OCS and to honor all those who may or may not have died in war. The deceased members that have been
accounted for were honored at a memorial service conducted by one of our own. That memorial service is now a permanent part of the reunion activities. It has bonded this Association
together, and we are enthusiastic in continuing this commitment.
In truth, except for those who participated, the country
and the service had forgotten the Signal OCS program and the contributions
made by those who were commissioned after the most grueling training
known. We believe the OCS graduates deserve better.
intends to ensure that the U.S. Army Signal Corps OCS program
is remembered, and that the graduates and cadre are recognized
for serving their country so well.
Richard A. Green, Major (Ret)
Brief Histories & Stories
Click the flashing buttons at left to jump to the
articles listed below.
Communications - Electronics 1962 - 1970.
An extensive history
of the Army Signal Corps in Vietnam, this treatise was written by Major
General Thomas Matthew Rienzi, and is titled Communications
- Electronics 1962 - 1970. It's an excellent document, and
well worth a few hours of your time perusing it. If you are a
Viet Nam vet, you can search the file for those sites and fire
bases you were posted to, and read about how they got there,
their purpose, and lots more. Enjoy. We who served under General
Rienzi are indebted to him for his effort in writing this book.
The 516th Signal
During the Vietnam War most Signal OCS
graduates left OCS for a short posting in Europe or the US where
they could get their feet wet for a few months as a new platoon
leader, before being sent on to Viet Nam to do their real duty.
Most, but not all. Some of the newly minted Signal Lieutenants
found themselves being sent to Europe... permanently. Among
those that got to stay in Europe, instead of just passing
through on their way to Viet Nam, were those who were posted to
the 516th Signal Group, STRATCOM - Europe.
The 516th Signal Group was one of those marriages of
convenience that brought several units together to solve a big
problem the Army was facing during a critical time of change.
Originally made up of only 9 units (e.g. 17th Sig Bn, 29th Sig
Bn, 447th Sig Bn, and a few others) the 516th Signal Group
eventually grew to include some 57 units (if every company and
detachment is counted) by 1967. For those who are
"military unit designation challenged," the 516th Signal Group
should not be confused with the 516th Signal Brigade.
Headquartered in Karlsruhe, Germany, the 516th provided
communication capabilities to such critical pieces of the U.S.
Military as the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Click the flashing button
top left to read a bit more about this important piece of the
Signal Corps, a unit involved in passing some of the highest
classified data and communication that existed at that time,
while working steadfastly to make sure that the Soviets didn't
sneak up on America while America's focus was on Viet Nam.
Campaign - The Reality Of Combat Signal Operations.
Back in 1970 Nixon finally got fed
up with the NVA using the Ho Chi Minh and Sihanouk trails as
staging routes for incursions into South Vietnam and authorized
what became known as the Cambodia Campaign (or Cambodia
Incursion… depending on whether you were a hawk back then or a
liberal). Centered around a series of short, spirited
engagements, the Cambodia Campaign sent a bunch of RVN and US
troops over the border into Cambodia to clean house, after which
they were promptly removed. The story of this campaign, what it
accomplished and how it could have ended the war if our
commanders and the politicians back then had a set of brass
monkeys is covered in this short article. Seen from the
perspective of a young Signal Corps Second Lieutenant, it makes
one wonder how our government leaders can still be missing the
point as to what it takes to win the wars they so blithely get
Part I – 1966 - The War Begins In Earnest.
Considering that the U.S. had
"advisors" in Vietnam since 1954, it was perhaps
inevitable that when the French fell on their sword the
U.S. would step in. Still, although many think of the
Vietnam War as beginning much earlier, things didn't
really get underway until 1966... when a group of units
commanded by aggressive commanders decided that by damn,
if this war is going to be fought, then let's get busy
at it. This historical piece tells the story of that
period, and the Signal Corps' involvement in it.
Part II – 1966 - The Earnest
If you read Part I above, then you
know how aggressive and creative the Signal Corps had to
be to make sure that when U.S. Military combatants
needed to talk they had the ability to do so. Vietnam,
unlike any war before it except perhaps for the combat
operations that took place during WWII in the jungles of
the South Pacific, tested the whole idea of
communication in ways it had never been tested before.
Debilitating geographic and climatic conditions, new
forms of communications, new forms of combat that saw
entire units relocated by air within hours, and then
relocated again a few hours later, all combined to force
the Signal Corps to think outside of the box. This story
tells of that thinking, and how the Signal Corps
employed good old American ingenuity to solve the