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May 2015

 

— This Month —

Strange Bedfellows

How Enemies Become Best Friends Forever

And...

Signal Corps Successes

How Seven Signal OCS Graduates Built The 103rd Infantry Division’s Signal Company
Part II of IV

Plus...

An Archive Of War Part VI

- - - - -

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. 


 

Strange Bedfellows

Vietnam - US Relations

How Enemies Become Best Friends Forever

Remember Vietnam? That place you fought in so long ago? I’ll bet you never thought the government that took over when we left would someday come knocking on our door, looking for help, did you? It sure is strange how enemies can become bedfellows. But then again, that happened with Japan and Germany. Former enemies now among our closest of friends. So why not Vietnam?

It's interesting to note that 40 years and 1 day ago (April 30, 1975) the war in Vietnam ended. No, there was no VE or VJ day celebration for the Vietnam War, with flags flying and sailors kissing girls in Times Square; nope, not even a VV day. Oh, there may have been an odd but privately celebrated VK day or two (Victory for Kissinger), or a VFTDDSOBTFTC day (Victory For Those Draft Dodging SOBs That Fled The Country) when they were finally allowed to come home, but if there was, somehow I missed it. No, instead of victory celebrations, what the Vietnam War Veterans got when they came home was a wet blanket homecoming and 40 years of listening to low life braggarts taking credit for awards they never earned, in an Army they never joined, in a war they never fought in.

But things are changing. All that fighting you did to free the Vietnamese from a repressive, ideologue Communist Autocracy may finally be paying off. In case you haven’t been paying attention, something subtle is happening that you may want to keep an eye on. Later this year Vietnam's highest government leader is coming to America... likely as not to ask us to become their new BFF (Best Friend Forever).

Now isn't that something?

You see, our former enemy needs our help. It needs our help because it is facing again, for the umpteenth time in its tens of thousands of years of history, the problem of being as small as it is, but living next door to China, as big as it is.

The fact is, the history of Vietnam as a culture is one of the longest continuous histories in the world. As a nation, Vietnam has a cultural history going back over 25,000 years. And that’s good.

But what's bad is that its neighbor to the north, The People’s Republic of China, is a bully. And for nearly as long... 25,000 years... has made Vietnam’s life a living hell. China… since time immemorial… has been pushing Vietnam around. And it’s doing it again.

That being the case… and it also being the case that China is now one of the most powerful countries in the world... both militarily and economically... means that it's getting harder and harder these days for Vietnam to stand up to it. And so, little Vietnam is turning to the next largest powerhouse among nations—America—to ask for help. Succinctly put, the request they are about to make is that we both let bygones be bygones and America now join them in friendship… and oh, by the way, also stand beside them as they mount an effort to stop China’s bullying.

So what do you think? Should we toss our lot in with Vietnam? Against China?

I vote yes.  

Japanese Signal Corps WWII



 

Signal Corps Successes

103rd Signal Company - 103rd I.D.

How Seven Signal OCS Graduates Built The 103rd Infantry Division’s Signal Company
Part II of IV

When we left Part I of this IV part series last month the 103rd Signal Company had, in the middle of winter, traversed the infamous Vosges Mountains of France, fought their way through St. Dié, and were sitting only 29 miles south of Strasbourg on the left bank of the Ill River. The town they were bivouacked in was Diefenbach, and for a bunch of green Signaleers fresh out of training their successes made it seem to them as though the war would soon be over.

But it wouldn’t be. Unbeknownst to them, there was still a long slog ahead, many more battles to come, and far more deaths on the horizon before Germany was taken and the Nazis defeated.

What the men of the 103rd Signal Company experienced was only one small part of the war along the western border of Germany. From where they were on that border, in southeast-central France, if they looked across the border what they would see was the entirety of southern Germany… yet to be penetrated and taken. Worse however, if they looked to their north along their own side of the front line, and followed the French border from where they were near Strasbourg up to and through Belgium to the English Channel, they would see some 500 miles more of war front. That is, while what was in front of them seemed easily captureable, what was to their north and south was an endless line of German defenses only too ready and willing to roll down upon them, wrap them up in a pocket, and annihilate them if they dared to cross the French–German border.

And that’s exactly what Ike saw as he sat back to try to figure out how to penetrate the German wall of resistance he was facing.

While the 103rd Infantry Division and its Signal Company were fighting their way through the Vosges Mountains in November 1944, Lt. General Devers, the Commander of the 6th Army Group (under whose authority the U.S. XV Corps and VI Corps served, which in turn contained the 7th Army and the 1st French Army, and the 103rd Infantry Division to which the men we are following were attached) had wanted to swing his 6th Army Group to the north of where the 103rd I.D. and Signal Company was, towards Moselle. When he approached Eisenhower about his plan, Ike gave him his blessing, provided that Devers could guarantee that he would leave absolutely no Germans west of the Rhine and south of Strasbourg.

As for the reason for this strange command, Eisenhower said it was imperative that if Devers moved his 6th Army Group north from the Strasbourg area what he left behind must constitute an absolutely secure defensive base, void of Germans, or else the Germans would use the situation to mount a counter offensive that could breach the line of defense the Allies had along the rest of the French–German border. If the Germans did this, then they would have a pretty good chance of rolling up the entire Allied front, in a massive enfilading action.

103rd Signal Company Line of Attack

Understandable though it was, Ike’s command to assure a secure defensive base void of Germans if Devers left his current position and moved north presented a problem for both Devers and Lt. General Patch (Patch commanded the 7th Army), as they both wanted to maximize the 103rd I.D.’s success in fighting their way through the Vosges by pushing for a crossing of the Rhine by the 24th of November. If they could accomplish this, they thought it possible that they could then use the 3rd Army, just to the north of the 6th and 7th, to also advance into German territory, in a broad front that the Germans would not be able to stop.

To gather support for their plan, they convinced General Haislip, the commander of the XV Corps (who was in position on the northern edge of the 7th Army… adjacent to Patton's 3rd Army) that he could seize a bridgehead even further north along the German border, in the Ratatt area, with relative ease. If he could do that, they told him, then Devers was sure that the VI Corps could exploit the opportunity Haislip would create by driving northward through Haislip’s bridgehead, to out-flank the German fortifications west of the Rhine.

All of this Devers and his band of co-Generals were confident they could do. But Eisenhower was not. He worried that the First French Army was not up to their part of the task, and if they failed, then regardless of how well the rest of his forces behaved the entire plan could see the Allied forces facing a rout equal to that which the British faced when they retreated to Dunkirk.

The reason for Eisenhower’s concern was the area that the First French Army had to control, an area near the town of Colmar, just south of where the 103rd Signal Company was working. If lost it would put the German’s in the most ideal position for an enfilading movement along the entire 500 mile front.

Little did Eisenhower know at the time that he was right. He was right because: a) Hitler was determined to hold on to the lower Alsace region (within which the “Colmar Pocket” sat) and so was pumping troops into the region faster than one could count them, and b) the French were not up to holding on to the Colmar Pocket.

On top of all of this, while few knew it, it had always been Eisenhower’s plan that when it came time to cross the German border it would be done en masse… with an advance being made along its whole length, at the same time, rather than piecemeal in small sections wherever it seemed opportune. Thus Devers’ plan ran in the face of Eisenhower’s plan, as his crossing of the Rhine in the Strasbourg area would negate Eisenhower’s “broad front advance on Germany” strategy, not to mention ignore the risk that because Devers had not yet secured the area he was in, if he left it for another area the Germans might take control of the Colmar Pocket and use it to launch their own broad front assault on the Allies.

As to why SHAEF could not devise a middle road strategy that took advantage of the gains Devers’ men (including the 103rd Infantry Division and its 103rd Signal Company) had made in working their way through the Vosges Mountains, and meld these gains with the tactical plans Eisenhower had for a broad front advance, much of the problem lay in the logistics of supporting the war effort. At this point in the war it was late November, 1944. As the year drew to a close it was becoming more and more obvious to the people at SHAEF that the problem of getting supplies to the advancing troops was going to be a serious limiting factor in terms of how far the troops along the front line could advance before they ran out of guns, ammo, gas and food. Adding to this was another problem that was beginning to show its ugly head, that being that there was a general unavailability of trained fighting men to replace those that were turning up KIA in this early stage of the war.

The simple fact was that while progress was being made at a fine pace, it was leaving in its wake casualties from the hundreds of small fierce fighting incidents that occurred daily all along the front. After all, this was war.

Continued at top of page, COLUMN AT RIGHT

 


 

Civilian life...


 

Vietnam Campaign Ribbons

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

Update 1 April 2015 Last month we added a new feature to our Facebook page. It's called "Militarily Notable". In a paragraph or two this new feature tells of military events long ago forgotten, but which nevertheless constitute important but little known happenings in military history. We'll be adding a new one each month, so please take the time to read them. To see them, click on the Facebook icon in our links column at left... and while you're on our Facebook page PLEASE be sure to "Like Us".

We need more likes. Why? Because the more "Likes" we have, the more Facebook promotes our site. And the more they promote our site, the more readers come by to check it out. And the more people come by to check it out, the better our chance of people actually, well... liking us... and donating to our Scholarship Fund. SOOOoooooo... want to help us raise more money for scholarships? Then PLEASE take the time to visit our Facebook page and "Like us"... and ask your friends, family, grandchildren and anyone else you can think of that might have a Facebook account to do so too. Thanks

 

 

 

Continued from left column... 

And so it was in November–December 1944.

To assess whether Devers should be allowed to move forward with his plan or told to wait until Eisenhower’s broad front strategy could be put into motion, Eisenhower and Bradley set off on a tour of the southern front. Their goal was to assess the condition of their Army, from its leadership to the morale and fitness of the troops, the tactical situation on the ground as understood by local commanders, and most importantly the fighting spirit of the men.

Before continuing our story, let us pause and remind you of why we are following the 103rd Signal Company. Our reason is that when this unit was constituted the War Department happened to assign to it 7 Army Signal School OCS graduates at one time. That's right, 7... one of which, fresh out of OCS, was assigned as its C.O.

In our mind this was a truly unusual situation... forming a new Signal Company to support an entire Infantry Division, with orders to give them two months training and then place the entire edifice... Signal Corps plus the newly constituted Infantry Division, along the line of attack in Germany.

Of the 8 original Second Lieutenants assigned to breathe life into the 103rd Signal Company, these are the names of the 7 that came directly from Army Signal OCS Class 42-06.

42-06: 2nd Lt. BERNARD BECK, Sig C. Radio Officer, C.O.

42-06: 2nd Lt. DENNIS A. DELANEY, Telephone & Telegraph Officer,

42-06: 2nd Lt. CHARLES A. DEWS, Supply Officer,

42-06: 2nd Lt. MAURICE A. HANNON, Sig C. Motor Officer,

42-06: 2nd Lt. JOHN C. MITCHELL, Sig C. Construction Officer,

42-06: 2nd Lt. JACK OWENS, Sig C. Radio Intelligence Officer,

42-06: 2nd Lt. JULIUS S. SEDENSKY, Sig C. Construction Officer,

and later, as the war unfolded...

43-16: 2nd. Lt. Ray Vanderby joined them.

Read More

 


 

 

Thought #1: Is This The Best They've Got?

It behooves us to remember that of the current list of Presidential Candidates, none of them ever served in the military. When asked if he did, Marco Rubio ducked the question… but the fact is, he didn’t. Neither did any of his current GOP rivals, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), or even Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) for that matter. Jeb Bush too didn’t serve, although he proudly states that he registered for the draft in 1971. Funny, I thought that was a Federal Law... every male American citizen had to register, like it or not. I didn't know you got extra points for doing that? And as to his never being called, one wonders if the Bush name had anything to do with that.

Of those who will likely announce their intention to run, Mike Huckabee didn't serve, nor did Dr. Ben Carson, Chris Christie, Carly Fiorina, or any of the others as far as we can tell.

Their opposite number, Ms. Hillary Clinton, obviously never served either.

There are a few who did serve though, and who might yet run for President... like Lindsey Graham (Officer and Judge Advocate, Air Force), but we won't go into that here... all we'll say is that as you approach the voting booth next year, you might check to see if your man or lady's blood runs red, white and blue, or some other color.

Is it important, you ask? Considering the number of wars our nation fights, it sure would be good to have someone in office that knew something or two about war, how they start, how they end, how they are lost, what happens during them, and what must be done once a war ends if peace is to be maintained... and most importantly, what the needs of the military are if America wants to keep on projecting peace throughout the worldand going to war when necessary to back up that commitment.

Thought #2: Now What?

Chinese nuclear experts warned the U.S. that they believe North Korea may already have a nuclear arsenal of 20 warheads, and the uranium enrichment capacity to double that figure by next year. The Chinese estimate reflects growing concern in Beijing (of all places) about the nuclear ambitions of its errant ally, and is the latest in a series of expert assessments that suggest Pyongyang is moving faster down the nuclear path than previously considered. In support of this, a report by US researchers warned that North Korea appeared poised to expand its nuclear program over the next 5 years and, in a worst case scenario, could possess 100 nuclear bombs by 2020.

Oh, and one last thing: on April 14th of this past month the Pentagon announced through Admiral William Gortney, head of the U.S. Northern Command, that North Korea had reduced the size of their nuclear weapons to the point that they were now able to mount nuclear warheads on their KN-08 ICBMs, which have the capacity to reach America.

So much for President Obama’s legacy: Syria uses poison gas on its own people without concern, Russia is allowed to stomp around Eastern Europe pocketing little countries along the way, like pedophiles do with little girls in schoolyards, Iran is given the green light to develop nukes if it just plays nicely, and North Korea is allowed to have as many nukes as it wants, miniaturize them, and mount them on ICBMs, without even a peep coming out of the White House. Tell me, is this President overwhelmed by the world around him, or what?

The next time you vote for a President, what kind will you be voting for? Whatever kind it is, get behind them now, and help promote their cause. A good, vigorous debate never hurt anyone.

 


 

 

An Archive of War - Part VI
Examples of effective American decision making and leadership, as seen through the documents
of war.

If you've been reading along, you know that in this column we give you examples, in writing, of how great leaders from America's past provided insight, guidance, lucid thinking, and leadership during times of trouble. You can see some of those examples in our Earlier Documents list below. This month we bring you another one. This time we look at President Truman's full length explanation—again, in writing—to the American people of how he intended to fight the Korean War. Once again, it is a masterpiece of simplicity and what we have come to call clear headed thinking.

One wonders, where is our current President's written explanation of what his intentions are with respect to the war waging in Yemen? Or how about his plans for how to defeat ISIS, rather than just degrade them? Or how he intends to get Russia to back off and leave the rest of the Ukraine alone, never mind return the Crimea to the Ukrainians? Or any of the other problems he faces?

Still, let us not just pick on Obama alone. It's not just he that is at fault, it's the whole damned way the Executive Office functions. It is unaccountable, beyond measure. With perhaps the exception of George H.W. Bush, America has had this problem of less than forthcoming Presidents (and Vice Presidents too... Mr. Cheney...) since Eisenhower left office. Isn't it time things change? What are we, chopped liver? Don't We The People deserve to be told what the reasoning is behind the decisions being made, or do they think us too stupid to understand them? How about putting something in writing every once in a while? Is that too much to ask?

Take a moment now to read what Truman had to say about how he was going to fight the Korean War. You'll find it refreshingly honest. One only longs for such a position paper from the White House today, on any number of critical events... from reducing police brutality on the streets of America, to stopping government corruption, fixing the  ineptly run government agencies we suffer with, to addressing any of the global hot spots we warriors are sent to fight in.

And by the way, you might pay attention to the last two paragraphs where he invokes God. No politically correct wimp here, not Truman. He gave credit where credit was due. 

 

Truman Address on Korea - July 19 1950

Earlier Documents:

1. Potsdam Proclamation - An ultimatum for unconditional surrender.

2. Final Directive Authorizing Use Of Atomic Weapons Against Japan

3. White House P.R. Notifying America Of Dropping Of Atom Bomb

4. Allies' Armistice Demands, 10 November, 1918

5. Statement By The President On The Situation in Korea, 27 June, 1950.


 

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