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September 2015

— This Month —

The Latest

Useless But Interesting News For Military Zealots

And...

The Signal Corps At War

Inside One Of The 36th Signal Battalion's Radio Relay Vans

Plus...

Just Who The Hell Is DASPO Anyway?

How 10 Army Signal Corps OCS Graduates Built The DoD's First Ever
Cinematography And Still Image Film Production Command

- - - - -

MISSION STATEMENT

Our Association is a not-for-profit fraternal organization. It's 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 WebMaster@ArmySignalOCS.com. We are here to serve you. 


 

The Latest

 

Useless but interesting news for military zealots...

While you’ve been busy living your life, others have been busy playing games. Games that just might determine what the next American Soldier looks like… Signaleer even… Robot Signaleer, that is.

It turns out that there’s a whole industry starting up these days, where the focus is on building robots that can mimic human behavior… GIANT ROBOTS, that is.

While not of the giant size, DARPA and NASA are jointly working on humanoid robots and self thinking machines able to replace men in disaster relief and search-and-rescue operations. In the video below you can see their effort to develop a humanoid able to manage itself in fall avoidance situations. Here they are testing the robot in push recovery techniques.

This video has no audio
 

But these are not the robots we’re interested in. Nope. We’re interested in GIANT ROBOTS able to engage in kinetic combat. If you want to know what’s going on in this segment of the robot world, you have to look at what’s going on in the robot games area. An area of “sport” that grew out of animated gadget wars, recently an American group issued a challenge to a Japanese company to engage in a giant robot fight. The Japanese company, Suidobashi Heavy Industries, is no stranger to giant robots, as it is currently building a 13 foot tall robot called Kuratas (see video below), which people can purchase for their own use and pleasure. Intended to be sold on Amazon for in excess of $1 million each, the company has accepted the American group’s challenge, and is now in the process of building a competitor able to engage in hand to hand combat.

 

The American robot, called MegaBot is being fielded by what is being called Team USA, who has accepted the Japanese’s proposed rules of engagement. Those rules include that the fight must be "melee" based, and involve hand-to-hand combat.

Team USA is busy building their robot at this time, however, it seems that they are short on the cash they need to give their robot the extra speed, heavier armor plating, firepower, better hydraulics, better weapons system, dynamic balancing, life safety system, and the stronger power unit it will need if it is to conquer Kuratas. To find the extra $500,000+ needed, Team USA has turned to a new internet phenomena called Crowdfunding. In Crowdfunding people follow a company via the internet, and where they find value in what the company is doing, donate small sums of money to the company's cause. In return donors usually receive minor perqs, such as tee shirts and the like. An effective method for a start-up to acquire the capital it needs to fund a new business, Crowdfunding raised more than $1.5 billion in 2013 alone.

The video below explains about the MegaBot humanoid being developed. We caution you however that our video was taken from Team USA’s Crowdfunding website. So while we recommend you watch it and learn about this fascinating new form of giant robot war gaming that is creating an industry around it, please be aware that the video you are seeing is, at its simplest, a pitch by the company to raise money. Don’t fall victim to it and don't donate money to their cause unless you really, really know what you are doing. But DO follow the story over the next few months, and be sure to watch the battle when it takes place.

Please also note, this website and the U.S. Army Signal Corps Association has absolutely no connection with Team USA, the MegaBot, or any business or company affiliated with it. We are not in any way recommending them to you, nor are we promoting them. All we are attempting to do is alert you to a new form of combat that most military geeks like us find fascinating... especially since this whole area of study may one day result in the U.S. Army fielding GIANT ROBOTS in the next war it fights.

 

Finally, if you're missing the point in this form of gaming, you might want to focus on how the concept of men piloting complex machinery for combat purposes (e.g. tanks and fighter aircraft) has finally trickled down to its lowest common denominator: direct human-on-human engagement, where the man becomes the machine, and vice versa. So, unlike other forms of human on human engagement where each "pilot's" personal strength was multiplied by the machinery that surrounded him, mostly via standoff kinetics, in this new form of humanoid combat the man is the machine and the kinetics are his.

One can see the difference this nuance makes by considering that— putting aside knife fights, hand to hand combat and the like—while over the past 70 years mankind has developed complex tools and machines to allow a man to expand his own limitations at war craft by launching munitions from the machine he would pilot, in none of those cases was there involved direct manmachineenemy contact, where the man directly touched the enemy through the machine. Instead, generally speaking, munitions were fired from a standoff position.

That is no longer the case.

Now, via this new format of GIANT ROBOT melee engagement, where the man has become the machine, for all practical purposes, the man has also become the munition. To that end, while at present all that is happening is that a group of enthusiasts are bringing video gaming and science fiction together in a real life form... one that includes giant fighting robots being piloted internally by real people, i.e. humans manning humanoids, in a fight to the death of the humanoid, but not the human...one wonders whether this will one day soon morph from just another form of entertainment to a new military weapon system?

As for the battle that is soon to come about between MegaBot and Kuratas, both sides have vowed to make their robots, and the combat melee that ensues, “the coolest thing seen yet.” Team USA has said that they are determined to do more “than just build something huge and stick guns on it.” Instead, their promise is to build something that is “super American". In our view, that, plus a Hollywood paint-job, is all that we military zealots need to tune in when the battle takes place. Watch for the final date of the battle; we will too.

 

Signal Corps MegaBot



 

The Signal Corps At War

Inside One Of The 36th Signal Battalion's Radio Relay Vans 
A Flashback In Time –

Candidate Don Fedynak, Class 04-68, sent along a video that he thought our readers would like. As a Signal Corps pictorial officer, he, as with so many others, shot film like that in this video… only to see it archived somewhere along the way... likely stored in the National Archives in some dank, dusty spot, where it will never be found or seen again.

It's amazing then that what appears to be mundane shots of Signalmen at work eventually found its way into this short but worthwhile video of life in the Signal Corps during the Vietnam War. The video itself shows the activities of Signalmen from the 36th Signal Battalion, in one of the unit's Radio Relay vans. Originally shot by 1LT Ted Acheson, DASPO (Department of the Army Special Photo Office), the footage was turned into a short movie by 1LT Paul Berkowitz, of the 221st Signal Company (Pictorial).

Lt. Berkowitz took the time to edit the film by adding comments and background music, and then reassembling it in the movie you see here. As Lt. Berkowitz commented in his notes to the video "It was shot by the book and nicely done to cover a boring, routine but vital subject. Ted, or someone, had good captions to go with it so even 46 years later I could make sense of it. Lots of us had assignments like this. But was it ever actually used anywhere?"

The video is 3 minutes in length. It is one of our best, as it shows the people and equipment that kept the troops in the Vietnam War talking. Our thanks to Ted Acheson for shooting the story, Paul Berkowitz for editing it and especially Don Fedynak for bringing it to our attention.

 

 


 

Robot Wars 


 

Vietnam Campaign Ribbons

This page last updated 1 September 2015. New content is constantly being added. Please check back frequently.

Update 1 September 2015 Max Holt, the Association's Chaplain sent us a link to a fascinating website. It pinpoints on a map of Vietnam all of the firebases and U.S. war facilities of the Vietnam War. The site claims: "THIS IS A FULL Collection of 4 pages of FIRE BASES, AIR FORCE BASES, Naval and Medical, BROWN WATER Naval, and any and all bases DOD during the Vietnam War 1963 to 1975". You may want to check it out... but be forewarned that it's still a work in progress, and so clicking on some of the bases will send you to a dead link. Be patient, the webmaster for this interesting site is still working on it. Click here to the website.

Update 1 September 2015 Speaking of Max Holt, he recently completed his latest book, as well as a website to promote his writing. Called MaxHoltMedia.com, you can learn and read more about his latest novel on it. The book is titled Neverlasting Paradise. It's an excellent read... take the time to visit Max's site and buy a copy for yourself. Click here to Max's website.

Update 4 July 2015 Get your copy of the 2015 Association Reunion package TODAY! Click here to Download Reunion Form a hard copy, or click here to go to the Official 2015 Reunion Website to see a list of current attendees, and complete your registration there.

 

 

Just Who The Hell Is DASPO Anyway?

DASPO 

Photo courtesy Bradford Mohr, copyright 2001 - 2002, DASPO 

How 10 Army Signal Corps OCS Graduates Built The DoD's First Ever Cinematography And Still Image Film Production Command

As you may have noticed, the video below left was credited to a Signal Officer assigned to DASPO. For many Vietnam era Signal Corps personnel, DASPO (1962 – 1974), being so prevalently staffed with Signal Corps Officers that graduated from Army Signal OCS in Fort Gordon, not to mention Enlisted Men from Fort Monmouth’s Signal Schools, must have been some offshoot of the Signal Corps, no? That’s what one would have thought, anyway.

But it wasn’t. Surprisingly, DASPO had little to nothing to do with the Signal Corps. Instead, it was part of an effort the Joint Chiefs of Staff made to gain a little publicity for themselves, and the Army in particular. More particularly, DASPO was created to work outside of local Army command control in a way that would serve the publicity needs of the Joint Chiefs, in promoting Army work in the host countries the Army operated in. Simply put, DASPO was designed and intended to work solely for the Department of Defense in the Pentagon, with the mission of portraying the Army's war activities in a positive light.

DASPOAs for what DASPO stands for, it means Department of the Army Special Photography Office, and it was created in 1962. As the story goes, General George Decker, Chief of Staff of the Army at that time, exclaimed as he left a White House briefing given to President John F. Kennedy, “I am fed up with looking at LeMay’s documentary films showing how great the Air Force is!”[1]

Apparently, in the weekly briefings the Joint Chiefs gave to the President, General Curtis LeMay took the opportunity to laud it over his fellow service branches by displaying professionally prepared videos of Air Force activities. His intent was to portray his branch in the best light possible, so that when it came time for military budget cutting President Kennedy would take his ax to the Army, Navy, Marines and Coast Guard first, before looking towards the Air Force. General Decker noticed LeMay’s nefarious scheme, and after exploding to his staff, determined to do something about it.

On this particular day, after returning to his office in the Pentagon, Gen. Decker wrote out a directive commanding that the Army, at the Department of Defense level, stand up a film group able to compose, shoot and produce documentary films that showed the Army’s operations world-wide… in the best light possible, of course.

Colonel Arthur A. Jones, Commander DASPOTo get things started, Colonel Arthur A. Jones, who was at that time the Plans Officer of the Army Pictorial Agency, was directed to form this unit, and assure that it was able to achieve the outlined mission. A graduate of Army Signal OCS Class 43-20, his task was to create a special DoD level unit with the singular mission of providing documentary films of a type that would assuage Decker’s pique at LeMay’s self focused Air Force marketing efforts, while at the same time carrying out a useful and valuable role with respect to the archiving of important military events. To achieve this goal, Colonel Jones would end up creating the U.S. Army’s first ever DoD level pictorial center, a unique unit that would answer, via the Pentagon, only to the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the U.S. Army Chief in particular.

Looking at the depth and breadth of the work to be done, Colonel Jones determined that what he needed were three separate photo detachments; one for Europe, one for South America and another for Asia. He also needed to name his new unit. As we now know, the name he came up with was the Department of the Army Special Photography Office, or DASPO, for short.

Army Pictorial Agency - Long IslandSince the unit would spend most of its time shooting film footage of Army activities, which in turn had to be edited and turned into finished film, Jones determined to locate DASPO’s Headquarters at the Army Pictorial Agency, in Long Island, New York. There DASPO people would receive and process the film from the various field detachments that shot it, and forwarded it on for processing.

As Commander of DASPO, once his Headquarters were set up in Long Island, Col. Jones set about organizing his three units and shipping then into the field. All worked well with South America and Asia, but when it came to Europe Colonel. Jones ran up against a road block. Apparently, the European commander of U.S. Army operations in Europe at that time refused to have a stateside command stationing people from their unit in his region, unless that unit fell under his direct command. Since DASPO wanted to retain direct control over the assignments that were given to the unit, and weren’t prepared to give in on this point, the European DASPO command never got off the ground.

To get around this inconvenience, Colonel Jones converted the European DASPO unit from a European detachment into a CONUS (Continental United States) detachment, capable of being dispatched anywhere in the world, on an instant’s notice. In terms of meeting DASPO’s mission, this expedient made sense. However, as to how it affected the men of the CONUS Detachment, it meant they were in for a lot of travel, as in order to stay on the good side of the U.S. Army’s European commander the men would have to reside in the U.S., jump on an airplane and head off to Europe when an assignment came up, spend as little time there as possible doing the “shoot,” before promptly returning to their US station when the photo shoot was over.

In the end, while more work was required for the men manning the EuropeanCONUS detachment, everything worked itself out and in July, 1962, DASPO was activated. When it came on line, it had a South American detachment stationed in Panama, a Pacific detachment headed for Hawaii and a European detachment stationed in Long Island.   

The Pacific Detachment

Captain Claude V. Bache, CO HHC - Korean WarNot surprisingly, with the war heating up in Vietnam, the Pacific detachment ended up with the most photo teams. Captain Claude Bache was assigned as its first commander. An Army Signal Corps OCS Headquarters Company commander (OIC OCS HHC during the Korean War) he found himself with a mission to not only cover the war in Vietnam, but also all other U.S. Army activities throughout the entirety of the Pacific Rim. To effectively cover the immense area involved, Captain Bache set up three duty stations and assigned men to them. Intended for all practical purposes to be permanent “foreign” operations, these detachments had all they needed to perform their mission without returning to the Pacific Detachment’s HQ at Fort Schafter, in Hawaii.

The foreign operation detachments were set up in 1968, and included Team Alpha, stationed in Seoul, South Korea, Team Bravo, stationed in Bangkok, Thailand, and Team Charlie, stationed in Saigon, South Vietnam.

Interestingly, Team Alpha… the Korean detachment… was the first to be set up. It was established in response to the U.S.S. Pueblo incident,  where on January 23rd, 1968, North Korean forces captured the ship. Seeing the necessity of filming the events in South Korea relating to this incident, Captain Bache rushed his team to Seoul, and from there all along the zone of activity, from as far north as the demilitarized zone located along the 38th parallel, to the Port of Pusan, located at the southern tip of the country. And true to their mission, as negotiations took place over the release of the crew, Team Alpha busily documented every step in the process, especially those steps that involved the U.S. Army.

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September Crossword Puzzle

Army Signal CorpsTheme: Civil War TriviaArmy Signal Corps
Game 1 of 2

Hint: Join 2, 3 and 4 word answers together
as one complete word.

 For answer key to this month's puzzle,
see icon at bottom of page




Footnotes:

[1]  Curtis Emerson LeMay was a General in the United States Air Force and the Vice Presidential running mate of American Independent Party candidate George Wallace in the 1968 presidential election.  - To return to your place above, click here. Return to your place in the text.

 


 

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