Six Army Signal Corps OCS Graduates Do The Impossible
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Slowly time moved on, and the Company began to take form. In
June another Officer joined the unit; Second Lieutenant
Horton R. Andrews, of Spokane, WA.
Our research finds no record of Lieutenant Andrews having
attended Army Signal OCS, nor of how he received his
commission. However, since he held an Amateur Radio License,
W7CQ, and appeared to come from a prominent family in
Spokane, WA, it is likely he was given a commission at the
time of his enlistment. That is—while it is pure speculation
on our part—his local draft board may have offered him a
commission due to his local standing as a respected member
community. Records indicate that he had relative financial strength
for those times, a modicum of community influence,
and most important of all, he held an Amateur Radio
license. Having this kind of pull when the draft board
called often meant that you could pick not only your own
branch of service, but in the very early days of WWII, your
starting rank too. This was not uncommon in small town
"cities" like Spokane.
As to his “relative financial strength,” local court records
indicate that in 1940 – 1941, just prior to his enlistment,
he sued and won a case against a local home builder who
cheated him out of money on a $3,700 contract to build a
brand new house for he and his family. As all know today, in 1940 $3,700 was a lot
of money. It is likely that anyone able to contract for such
a new home was well known in the
Regardless of how he got his commission, as it relates to our story, in 1942 Horton
Andrews mysteriously ended up in the Signal Corps, as a
newly commissioned Second Lieutenant, at the very same time
as the Signal Corps was desperately looking for quality men
who understood radio communications and direction finding.
Upon arriving at the 138th, 2nd Lieutenant Andrews was
assigned command of the Plans and Training section.
By the end of June, 1942, with the various assignments and
reassignments of EM, the Company stood at 3 officers and 140
One of the interesting things that happened at this time was
that the recent Signal OCS Officers assigned to the unit
decided that it was time to find out just how many men in
the unit could hit the broad side of a barn door, if forced
to shoot their weapons and defend themselves. The results
were scary. When tasked to complete a small bore rifle
course, most of the men failed.
The solution to this was simple: July 1942 was dedicated in
its entirety to having the entire Company go through an
intensive training course in marksmanship, including the
manual of arms, as well as learning how to solve various and
numerous field problems of the type one often encounters
when field equipment (e.g. jeeps and the like) stop working.
The unit’s history states that the entire Company
successfully completed the training.
- - -
We see then what it was like for a young Second Lieutenant
to be assigned to a Signal Company back at the beginning of
World War II. Unlike in our time in Korea or Vietnam, most
of the Signal Companies that were stood up at the beginning
of WWII needed its Junior Officers not to come in, take
command, and head to war, but to first build and train the
unit that they would eventually command. That is, a Company
had to be built, before it could be commanded.
For the 138th, September and October saw the complexion of
the unit change, as its complement of men and Officers began
to fill out even more quickly. On 11 September the C.O.
discharged Master Sergeant Ball from the Army, only to bring
him back a few seconds later as Second Lieutenant Millard J.
Ball. Lieutenant Ball was given the duty of Operations
On 2 October another Officer came on board. This time it was
the addition of 2nd Lieutenant Ellis C. Atchison, a graduate
of Army Signal OCS Class 42-08. He was assigned as the new
Supply and Transportation Officer.
On 26 October yet another Army Signal OCS graduate, this one
from Class 42-03, arrived. He was
1st Lieutenant Harvey E. Gabler, and he too was assigned as an Operations Officer
(Lieutenant Ball was later reassigned to the 954th Signal
Radio Intelligence Company). This helped close out the month
with the unit now having 8 Officers and 255 enlisted men on
By January 1943 the unit’s Officers felt they had the
company fully organized and ready for final training before
heading off to war. Thirteen months old from its inception
on 7 February, 1942, January was to see an intensified
training program inaugurated.
It took two and a half months to complete the unit’s final
training. On 18 March it all wrapped up, with the entire
Company firing the .30 Caliber, M-1903 for qualification, as
well as the Thompson Sub-Machine Gun. Everyone qualified.
- - -
From the beginning little more than 12-1/2 months had
passed, from the date the Company was constituted on 7
February 1942, to the date when its Officers felt the men
and the unit were ready for war. When one considers that all
of this was done by 9 truly green Army Signal Corps
Officers, 6 of which held brand new Signal OCS commissions,
with no prior command experience to speak of, it all seems
As we said at the beginning of our story, building a Company
from scratch is no easy task. Building one prepared to take
on an enemy in war—one known for his ferocious, no quarter
given, win or die attitude—is even more difficult.
These were truly remarkable men. They were all Signal Corps
The Officers involved, their rank at the time of joining the
Company, and the order in which they joined are:
138th Signal Radio Intelligence Company Officers
2nd Lieutenant Felix M. Marshall, Commanding Officer
2nd Lt. Harold G. Harbin, a graduate of Army Signal
Class 42-03, KIA
2nd Lt George W. Gilmore, Wire Platoon; a graduate of Army
Signal OCS Class 42-08
2nd Lt Francis J. Turner, Intercept Platoon; a graduate of
Army Signal OCS Class 42-08
2nd Lt Ira Belth, Position Finding Platoon; a graduate of
Army Signal OCS Class 42-08
1st Lt Horton R. Andrews, Plans and Training; no record of
2nd Lt Millard J. Ball, Operations Officer; field promotion
from Master Sergeant
2nd Lt Ellis C. Atchison, Supply and Transportation Officer;
a graduate of Army Signal OCS Class 42-08
1st Lt Harvey E. Gabler, Operations Officer; a graduate of
Army Signal OCS Class 42-03
Army Signal OCS graduates that joined the unit after it
was sent to its Pacific Theater duty station:
2nd Lt Leroy Painter, a graduate of Army Signal OCS Class 42-09
2nd Lt Lester Glenn Tingley, a graduate of Army Signal OCS Class 42-07
( Content below excerpted from Company's "History of
Services." See Sources
for document title.)
The 138th was heading for Brisbane, Australia, to join the
war in the Pacific.
To help prepare for transit to their new duty station,
Lieutenant Leroy Painter, originally from Kansas but now a
graduate of Army Signal OCS class 42-09, was assigned to the
Company, to temporarily take command of it while now Captain
Marshall travelled across the country to prepare facilities
at Ft. Dix, New Jersey, to receive the unit.
The Unit’s History lists the following:
– 2 May, Captain Marshall (Commanding Officer) and 3
enlisted men constituted an advance party to Fort Dix, New
Jersey. 1st Lt Gabler assumed command.
– 4 May, saw the Company entrain for permanent change of
station, across the continent to Fort Dix, New Jersey.
– 9 May, the organization detrained at Fort Dix, New Jersey
(Overseas staging area) and Captain Marshall again assumed
– 14 May, left Fort Dix, New Jersey by train and arrived at
Staten Island to board the United States Army Transport
– Set sail at 0550, 15 May, thus starting the journey for
overseas service. Living quarters on the Uruguay were badly
– 22 May, arrived at Panama Canal and commenced passage.
Company strength at the end of May was 1 Captain, 4 1st
Lieutenants, 2 2nd Lieutenants, one WOJG and 251 Enlisted
– 10 June, crossed international date-line. Arrived at
Brisbane, Australia on the 14th of June, disembarked on 15
June and marched to Camp Doomben (Brisbane), where
Headquarters was established.
– 2 August; August was again crowded with a multitude of
rapid moving events. On 2 August, the first contingent of
the Advance Echelon, consisting of 1st Lt Painter, 2nd Lt
Turner and 44 enlisted men, left Brisbane for Port Moresby,
New Guinea. The second contingent, composed of 2nd Lts Belth
and Tingley, WOJG Himes, and 68 enlisted men, departed
Brisbane for Port Moresby on 3 August, closely followed by
the 3rd contingent, consisting of Capt Marshall (Commanding
Officer), 1st Lt Gabler and 43 enlisted men, which left on
the 4 August. 1st Lt Gilmore and 99 enlisted men were left
at Camp Doomben, Brisbane to form the rear echelon.
Headquarters was set up close to Headquarters, Advance
Echelon, Fifth Air Force, about 10 miles from Port Moresby,
and camp was established.
– 31 August, the Advance Echelon of the 3rd Operating
Platoon departed for duty at Dobadura, New Guinea. Company
strength still stands at one Captain, four 1st Lts, three
2nd Lts, one WOJG and 256 EM as of last of August.
– 20 September; first Red Air Raid Alert on 20 September at
0400, closely followed by Red Alerts on the 21st and 22nd.
No casualties, no damage.
– October; 1st Lt Gilbert E. Toothaker, graduate of Army
Signal OCS Class 42-08, assigned to unit and attached to the
126th Signal Radio Intelligence Company, APO 923, along with
5 enlisted men.
– 13 November; A milestone in the life of this organization.
On this date the 138th Signal Radio Intelligence Company was
redesignated the 138th Signal Radio Intelligence Company,
Aviation, effective 13 November 1943, per Par 1, Secret
General Order No. 274, Headquarters Fifth Air Force,
APO 925, dated 13 November 1943, and War Department
letter AG 322 (28 Oct 1943) OB-1-AFRPG-M, dated 29
Constituted 138th Signal Radio Intelligence Company on 7 Feb
Activated on 14 Feb 1942.
Redesignated 138the Signal Radio Intelligence Company,
Aviation on 29 Oct 1943
Redesignated 1st Radio Squadron (J) on 29 Feb 1944
Redesignated 1st Radio Squadron, Mobile on 14 Nov 1946.
Inactivated on 8 May 1955.
Disbanded on 15 Jun 1983.
Reconstituted, and consolidated (1 Oct 1993) with the 6920th
Security Squadron, which was designated, and activated on 1
Redesignated 6920th Electronic Security Group on 1 Aug 1979
Redesignated 301st Intelligence Squadron on 1 Oct 1993.
Fort George Wright, WA, 14 Feb 1942-5 May 1943
Brisbane, Australia, 15 Jun 1943
Port Moresby, New Guinea, by c. 5 Aug 1943
Nadzab, New Guinea, by 21 Feb 1944
Biak, Sep 1944
Leyte, by Dec 1944
Clark Field Luzon, 31 May 1945
Yokota, Japan, 20 Dec 1945
Irumagawa, (later Johnson AB), Japan, by 1 Feb 1946
Misawa AB, Japan, 26 Jan 1953-8 May 1955
Misawa AB, Japan 1 Oct 1978-.
World War II Campaign Streamers: Asiatic-Pacific Theater,
New Guinea 1943-1944, Leyte 1944-1945, Luzon 1944-1945
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award: 26 Nov 1950-18 Jul 1951; 1
Jul 1982- 30 Jun 1984; 1 Jul 1986-30 Jun 1988; 1 Jul 1991-30
Jun 1993; 1 Oct 1993-30 Sep 1994; 1 Oct 1994-30 Sep 1995.
Philippine Presidential Unit Citation (WWII).
– Genealogy; Felix M. Marshall;
– 138 Signal Radio Intelligence Company – History of
Services; 14 February 1942 to 31 January 1944; AF ISR Agency
– Supreme Court, Washington State: 2 Wn.2d 294, HORTON R.
ANDREWS et al., Respondents, v. STANDARD LUMBER COMPANY,
Appellant; [No. 27704. Department One. Supreme Court,
January 18, 1940. Copy:
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