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— This Month —
Iran and Our Nuclear Option
To Nuke or Not...
How Two Signal OCS Officers Kickstarted The Korean War
Combat Signal Support in
Korea – The Early Days
What Rank Is Your Wife?
- - - - -
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Iran And Our Nuclear Option
To Nuke Or Not
Consider if you will the problem of deciding to
use a nuclear bomb for the first time in the
world’s history. How do you make that decision?
Consider too, what will happen if President
Obama’s entreaties towards Iran fail, and Iran
gains a nuclear bomb of its own.
What will we do then? What will Israel do? What
about Saudi Arabia? Is there a precedent for
what will likely happen?
Leaving aside how the past several President’s
have mishandled negotiations with Iran regarding
ceasing their endless trek towards development
of their own nuclear weapon… the world’s first
Islamic Nuclear Bomb, if it comes to fruition…
the question we are asking is what will we do
once they have one—because by our
reckoning, they soon will.
One way to answer this question is to look back
in time at the U.S.’ decision to use the world’s
first atomic bomb, and how that decision was
made. Perhaps in looking at that situation… over
four days in May, 1945… we can draw from it some
inkling as to how America should go about making
the decision this time: to nuke Iran to stop
them from gaining a nuclear weapon, or not.
One of the questions that has troubled
historians was when, exactly, President Harry S.
Truman decided to use the bomb. We know when the
bomb was used (in August 1945) but how the
decision to use the bomb was made and when that
decision was made is less clear… even today.
What we do know is that the closest thing to a
Presidential Directive that ordered the use of
the bomb was a directive sent on July 25, 1945,
from Acting Army Chief of Staff Thomas T. Handy.
He sent the order to General Carl A. Spaatz,
commander of the United States Army Strategy Air
Forces (yes… “Strategy” Air Forces, not
Strategic). Yet while the directive exists, his
actions do not seem to be the trigger that
released the bomb for use. The reason for this
is that the wording was, well, loose and
thing we know is that from Spaatz the order
found its way to Secretary of War Henry L.
Stimson. He in turn personally approved the bomb
for use… but even then, based on the way in
which Stimson worded his approval of its use,
one cannot say for certain that his actions were
the ones that sent the bomb on its way. Be that
as it may be, most historians today credit
Stimson with the decision to “use the bomb,” not
As we look today at the potential of a President
discussing with his National Security Advisor
use of a nuclear bomb to “take out” Iran’s
nuclear production facilities, one wonders how a
decision of this kind would be made. Could, say,
a McNamara or Rumsfeld or Gates or Hagel cause a
nuclear bomb to be used on Iran because the
President was less than precise in wording a
directive from his office? Is the President’s
approval really necessary, or is all that is
required is for the President to receive a
signed decision statement from the Secretary of
Defense, on which he would then place his
initials? Do all Presidents really
deliberate on decisions of this type…
thinking long and hard and then making a
decision on their own, sitting by themselves, in
a quiet room empty of advisors and scapegoats to
whom the blame can be attached if the decision
turns out to hold bad political repercussions?
Or do they merely rubber stamp decisions
presumably well thought out by the Secretaries
of the various agencies that run this country?
What would this President do? Phone his decision
in from a golf course or fund raising event?
To see how easy
it is to have critical decisions like this made by
underlings—powerful underlings, of course, but
underlings nevertheless—all one need do is read the
directive Stimson issued. Read it closely and what one
sees is that the order “authorized the delivery” of the
“first special bomb as soon as weather will permit
visual bombing after about 3 August 1945. . .”
Precise, or imprecise? You be the
judge. Either way, those who read it thought it precise
and clear enough to fuel up Enola Gay and send her on
How Two Signal OCS
Officers Kickstarted The Korean War
Combat Signal Support in
- The Early Days -
For Korea, 1950 was a year
of brutal invasion and savage fighting, with
catastrophic consequences on the lives of those
who lived in that country. Before daylight on
Sunday, June 25, 1950, the North Korea People's
Army attacked south across the 38th parallel.
Il Sung, the North Korean Premier, had an army
135,000 strong, far larger than that of South
Korea. More important however, what Kim Il Sung
had on hand when he began his escapade were
eight mostly battle-hardened divisions with a
large reserve force, spear-headed by 120 Soviet
T34 medium tanks, supported by extensive mobile
artillery, and an air force of 180 Soviet
fighters and bombers.
The Republic of Korea
(ROK) Army had only 95,000 men and four
combat-ready but lightly-armed infantry
divisions, supported by a total of eighty-nine
105-mm howitzers. The ROKs had no tanks.
As we all know today, the
North Koreans quickly crushed South Korean
defenses and butchered a path down the
peninsula until they were eventually stopped by
United Nations forces under General Douglas
MacArthur, at the Pusan Perimeter.
Reinforced by the powerful
and resolute 5th Marine Brigade, America’s
embattled forces held at the Perimeter until
MacArthur had built up an Air-Ground-Naval force
able to land on the beaches of Inchon, far to
the northeast and behind North Korean lines, and
hit North Korea's supply routes as well as break
its column of advancement. This was arguably
the most astonishing amphibious assault of the
twentieth century. The enemy was routed, Seoul
was recaptured, and the pre-war borders were—seemingly
But that wasn’t the end of
At this point High Command
made a fatal miscalculation. Up until the
North’s invasion the 38th parallel had formed an
official yet artificial line of separation
between the two Koreas. And because of this…
because it had once been the line of demarcation
between the two countries… High Command set
about trying to rebuild a defensive line along
What they should have done
instead was build a much more defensible, robust
boundary between the two Koreas—further north,
perhaps at the 39th parallel.
If they had done this they would have given the
South both a more secure place from which to
hold off any future incursions from the North, provide more room around
Seoul so that the line of demarcation itself
wasn’t sitting so close to the South’s capital,
and teach the North a lesson for having invaded
the South in the first place.
But they didn’t. Given
that the North had demonstrated an intent to
destroy the South, one can only wonder why our
side never thought of moving the line of
demarcation further to the North, into a more
unassailable location that would provide
improved early warning if the North tried to
To a great extent
MacArthur was to blame for this, because rather
than focusing on setting up a new line of
defense, what he did was take the war to the
North. He did this by launching a full scale
invasion of the North, with America’s Eighth
Army doing the dirty work, supported by the
ROKs. Not surprisingly, with MacArthur in charge
the campaign was a success, with some elements
of the ROK and a few units of the X Corps even
reaching the Yalu River.
But that still wasn’t
enough for MacArthur. Being the peacock that he
was, he naturally thought that anything he
touched would turn to gold. And so he presumed
that his successful offensive to date would
simply continue until the North Koreans sued for
peace. What he had drastically underestimated in
this grand thinking however was that China was
housing serious concerns over the possibility of
America winning the war in such a manner that
we ended up sitting on their—China’s—doorstep… at
the Yalu river. To alleviate this possibility, in
November, 1950, China sent her veteran guerilla
armies into the war… in force we might add.
This page last updated 1 September 2014. New content is constantly being added.
Please check back frequently.
1 September 2014 –Regular readers
of our website know that we often provide "linkable"
reference documents as background material in
support of some of our articles. Beginning this
month you can gain access to an archive of these
documents by clicking on the "Document Library" link
in the menu list in the upper left margin. You'll be
surprised, some of these documents are more
interesting than our original article! Check
them out! New documents will be added as we publish
more stories. Enjoy!
11 August 2014 –Candidate Rexford
Davis, OCS Class 21-67, sent us a few pics of his
time in Vietnam. Part of the 37th Signal Battalion,
Rexford served at Hoi An and on Monkey Mountain, of
all places. You can see his pics on the
for 21-67. Today Rexford is a Retired Lieutenant
Colonel, currently serving as a Department of the
Army Civilian with the G-37 Office at the United
States Army Reserve Command, Fort Bragg, NC.
1 August 2014 –The OSS Society
has informed us that the chairmen and ranking
members of the Foreign Affairs Committee, the Armed
Services Committee, and the Permanent Select
Committee on Intelligence have announced their
support for co-sponsoring legislation to award the
Congressional Gold Medal to the veterans of the
Office of Strategic Services, the predecessor to the
Central Intelligence Agency, for their exceptional
and indispensable service against Nazi Germany
during World War II.
They quoted OSS
founder General William J. Donovan, a World War I
Medal of Honor recipient, who said that OSS
personnel "performed some of the bravest acts of the
war." They cited the role played by the OSS "as the
basis for the modern-day American intelligence and
special operations communities, including the CIA,
Navy SEALs, U.S. Army Special Forces, Air Force
Special Operations Command, and the Marines Special
Operations Command." They also recognized several of
the more prominent members of the OSS, including
American icon Julia Child, Supreme Court Justice
Arthur Goldberg, Pulitzer-prize winning historian
Arthur Schlesinger Jr., and Ralph Bunche (the first
African-American to win the Nobel Peace Prize). The
OSS Society has asked us to ask
you to please contact
your congressperson and both your senators and ask
them to become cosponsors of this legislation. We at
ArmySignalOCS.com encourage you to do so and thank
you in advance.
Continued from left column...
The strange thing about China’s entry into the Korean War
was that hardly anyone saw it coming. Certainly not
MacArthur. For one thing, China’s army, having just survived
its own famous
Long March to escape Generalissimo Chiang
Kai-shek’s attempt to obliterate them in their fight to
take over China, was well versed in making long marches
under difficult combat conditions… undetected mind you. For
another, Mao Zedong was determined to take on America and
either drive the U.S. back to the 38th parallel, or lure
American troops deep into China where Stalin could, at
Mao’s urging, incinerate the U.S. military on the plains of
the Loess Plateau in northern China.
How was this to come
about, you ask? With a USSR launched atomic bomb being
dropped on what was presumed by Mao and Stalin to be U.S.
troops chasing, into the hinterlands of northern China, what
we would have been tricked into thinking was China's
retreating army. Imagine that.
There was only one thing standing in the way of this
happening: China had to first get into the war, and that
meant it had to move its troops from its own territory into
that of North Korea—and it did this with style. What Mao did
was send an army of three Chinese Communist Forces (CCF)
divisions on foot from An-tung, in Manchuria, on the north
side of the Yalu River, to North Korea.
The distance they
had to march was some 286 miles. Their goal was a
pre-designated assembly area in North Korea, which,
incredibly, sat in the middle of an existing combat zone
that the U.S. occupied. Even more incredible, Mao’s CCF made
the march and reached their targeted zone on time, with their early
contingent arriving after only 16 days, and the full
complement of men arriving over the next 3 days. Most
strange of all, they did this fully undetected.
The Chinese were nothing if not hard driving, especially
considering that most of the troops made the march in the
equivalent of light canvas sneakers. Chinese text books tell today how
one Division of this army marched at night along a
circuitous route involving barely existent mountain roads,
yet still averaged 18 miles a day for 18 days straight. One
can trace the route this unit took by looking today at hand
drawn maps of the time, stored in Tú Shū Guăn (Beijing’s
massive Central Library). They show that most of the roads
were impassable to vehicles.
For this Division, the day's march began at 1900 hours (by
which time it was dark) and continued until 0300 the next
morning. At that time the men stopped to eat and bivouac
before the sun came up. During this period they were ordered
to stay under camouflage until it got dark again that night,
and they could set off once more for North Korea.
A read of the official orders issued to the unit by Central
Command shows that the commander was to have his defense
measures against aircraft in place and ready by 0530 hours,
and further that he was responsible for assuring that “every
man, animal, and piece of equipment” was to be concealed and
camouflaged during the daylight hours. The only movement
that was to take place during the day was that of one small
scouting party, whose job it was to search ahead and select
the next day's bivouac area. If, for some reason, the unit
had to move during the day, standing orders were that if
aircraft appeared overhead every man was to stop dead in his
tracks and remain motionless. He was not to dive for cover,
drop to the ground, or do anything other than stop and stand
motionless. Officers were given orders to immediately shoot
any man who violated this order.
With this kind of discipline and determination one can
understand why then U.S. and U. N. aerial observers failed
to discovered the CCF’s deployment to Korea… until they were
already there, their bugles sounding, and hordes of them
rushing towards U.S. defensive positions. The simple fact
was, as good as the U.S. Air Force was, during October and
November the Chinese Communist Forces were able to move some
300,000 men into position without their being discovered
prior to actual combat being launched... by them, against us
While a big part of the reason that CCF forces were not
discovered had to do with a failure on the part of the Air
Force to spot them, some of the blame (… or credit) lies
with the fact that the Chinese used a form of communication
that was hard to detect. That is, normally an enemy’s troop
movements can be detected both visually as well as via
signals intercept and signals intelligence. Not so with the
CCF. With the CCF communication was conducted visually and
audibly… with flags and bugles. Without radio transmissions
then, it was nearly impossible to tell that the Chinese were
even communicating, never mind what they were saying.
Although better, the communication system the U.S. had at
its disposal at the beginning of the Korean War did little
more than what the Chinese bugles and flags were able to do.
Part of the reason for this is that the U.S. communication system
that was set up was based on technology that came
out of World War II. And while certainly better than that
which the North Koreans and Chinese had, it still wasn’t up
to the level of the civilian communication systems available
in the U. S. at that time.. nor was it up to the needs of
the Korean War.
Essentially, the communication infrastructure used to
support the Korean War, coming on the heels of WWII, was
built along the same lines as that used in Europe during
WWII. And while this was adequate in WWII the kind of
signals architecture laid out in during that period
proved challenged by the unique terrain that Korea threw at
war fighting, the ad hoc military structure that the U.S. and U.N.
assembled to fight the Korea War battles, and the rapid forward, backward
and sideways movements the front lines kept taking.
What Rank Is Your Wife?
I remember walking the perimeter of my Signal site in Vietnam, thinking of my
newlywed wife back home, wondering how she was doing. While I was away she
stayed with her aunt, in Springfield, Massachusetts. Being just outside the gate
of Westover Air Force Base, it was relatively easy for me to patch a call
through from my AN/TRC-24 microwave equipment atop my mountain lair outside of
Dalat to the switchboard at Westover. From there I was usually able to con one
of the switchboard operators into patching me into an outside line, and ringing
up my wife’s aunt’s home phone, so we could talk.
It didn’t happen often, but when it did, it brought me great relief to know she
was o.k. and hear her voice again. The calls were painfully short, as the
operator stayed on the line to monitor the patch, and after allowing no more
than a few minutes for us to say our hellos and make sure we were both o.k., she
would pull the plug. Now, all these years later, thinking back on those phone
calls, they seemed to have served a good purpose.
For one, they reinvigorated me and helped me though the war. Yet as much as they
did for us by holding us together for that year, tragically, they didn’t do
enough. Our marriage didn’t last long and we eventually separated.
The truth was that Vietnam was the problem. During my year over there I grew up
and so did she. By the time I came back I had changed dramatically and she had
too. More to the point, unbeknownst to me, through all of the years we had dated
before we got married, she had been holding her natural strength and
independence back, holding it inside, acting like the dutiful wife that all
women were supposed to be back then. Vietnam released that from her. By the time
I came back, having lived and survived for herself for the year I was away, as I
had, she was now no longer in need of a man’s arm to hold onto, a man’s hand to
open the car door for her, or a man’s paycheck to feed her. Her strength and
independence had come forth and blossomed—she had lived and taken care of
herself without any help from anyone—and there was no putting that fact back
into the bag.
It’s that independence that comes to my mind now, as I remember how in the early
days of my being a raw Second Lieutenant at Fort Hood she struggled to figure
out what role she had and needed to play as an Officer’s wife in the U.S. Army.
What I remember most is the difficulty she had in figuring out the pecking order
of the other Officer wives in our unit. Clearly, she knew that my career
depended on my C.O. being happy with me, and so even though his wife was
younger, less well educated, flighty, a bit of a drunkard, and less poised than
mine, my wife deferred to her in just about every way. She also went out of her
way to become friends with her, with the result that by the time I received my
orders to ship out to Vietnam they were best of friends… or so that’s the way it
looked to most everyone. To me, I recognized my wife’s actions for what they
were: back scratching… but I didn’t complain, because she was helping me gain
the recognition I needed in my Company… and considering how wet the space was
behind my ears, I needed all the help I could get.
With my C.O.’s wife she was fine, but with the wives of other military men
she seemed less secure. During a New Year Battalion dinner, when all of the other
wives were kissing up to the Colonel’s wife, mine held back. It didn’t hurt me
that I can recall, but even so it was clear to me that she was trying to figure out what
role to play with the Battalion Commander’s wife, the wife of the Captains in
the unit, First Lieutenants, Sergeants and even those Second Lieutenants that
technically outranked me because they received their commission before I did.
The poor woman. How difficult it must have been to be married to a fresh out of
Signal OCS Second Lieutenant back then.
Why was it difficult for her, you ask?
Because in her case—as I know now—her natural character traits of strength,
intensity of purpose, independence and leadership had to be stifled and made
subservient to the career needs of her newly commissioned husband. While I was
at work struggling daily to figure out what leadership was, she was sitting at
home stifling a natural ability to lead anyone anywhere. It’s almost as if she
should have had the rank, and I should have been the lowly spouse sitting at
It was with great pleasure then that I recently read that the Department of
Defense is considering implementing a new policy to help wives figure out what
their true place is in the military. Apparently, what is under consideration is
a new system whereby spouses of military members will be assigned a rank.
While this move comes 45 years too late to help my ex-wife, it will be a Godsend
for the spouses of U.S. military members worldwide.
September Crossword Puzzle
European WWII Trivia
Join 2, 3 and 4 word answers together
as one complete word.
For answer key to this month's
see icon at bottom of page
 Contemporary Chinese history books
today tell stories of how Chairman Mao approached Joseph
Stalin and asked for three things: A) Air support for both
the Chinese Communist Forces and the North Koreans that were
fighting the U.S. military in Korea. B) Entry into the
Korean War of Soviet troops, who would fight alongside of
Mao’s CCF. C) A nuclear attack on U.S. troops, if Mao could
lure them into crossing the Yalu and pursuing his own CCF
troops deep into Chinese territory. The premise he put to
Stalin was that Mao was willing to sacrifice his own forces
if in the process he could incinerate the American Army. To
do this, all he had to do was tease MacArthur into chasing
after his retreating army. Under Mao's own orders he would
cause his own CCF to "flee" northeast into the Chinese
hinterlands until they were close to the Russian border, at
which time Stalin could then claim that he had to act in
order to stop the U.S. from invading Russia. Stalin granted
Mao’s wish for item A, but politely declined to get involved
in the other two.
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