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Candidate Donald E. Mehl
Class 44-35


Compiled 2012-

Background Data

Donald E. Mehl was born in 1923 in Omaha, Nebraska. Prior to World War II, in addition to being a university student, he was active as an amateur radio operator and radio broadcast technician, having held advanced Federal Communications Commission amateur and commercial radio licenses. This led to his joining the U. S. Army in September 1942. He was assigned to the Signal Corps in June 1943. He served as a lieutenant with the 805th Signal Service Company from 1944 to 1946, operating the secret conferencing systems for the Army General Staff in the Pentagon and the headquarters of the Armed Forces Western Pacific in Manila, Philippine Islands. Don also studied radio engineering at the University of Omaha, electrical engineering at the University of Minnesota and received a Bachelor of Science degree from Creighton University.

Don's connection with the U. S. Army began in September 1940 when he enrolled at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. There two years of basic ROTC were required of each male student. Creighton had an infantry ROTC unit. After two years of basic students could volunteer if selected for the final two years of advanced ROTC. In 1942 those students volunteering for the advanced ROTC were required to enlist in the infantry reserve. After his junior year and two semesters of advanced ROTC Mehl was ordered to active duty in the Signal Corps at Camp Crowder Missouri, likely because he was an amateur radio operator and had worked as a radio broadcast engineer while attending university.

In March 1944 he went to Fort Monmouth, N. J. and completed the Signal Corps OCS school. From Fort Monmouth he attended the high power radio transmitter school at Press Wireless at Hickville, N. Y. Next he was assigned to the 805th Signal Service company at the Pentagon where he was part of the Army Communications system providing world-wide communications  for the General Staff. Mehl left active duty in September 1946 and remained in the army reserves until 1953. Following World War II, he worked as a radio broadcast engineer and in electronic and telecommunication marketing. He retired in 1987 as a marketing director for the Telecommunications Division of Rockwell International Corporation. He was the founder and first publisher of Broadcast Engineering magazine and was a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers.

Military Record

Don's Story

On December 7, 1941, I was an eighteen year old student at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. On the following Monday morning the ROTC officer who taught our Army Infantry military class told us that the easy times were over and it was time to get to work. As an eighteen year old I don’t think that we knew how right that he was.

The following September in 1942 we were sworn in as privates in the Army Infantry. We were not called to active duty immediately but were allowed to finish the semester. However, school became like basic training in the army. Physical training, running obstacle courses, climbing ropes hand-over-hand about 30 feet, close order drill on the football field, rifle practice and more ROTC classes became the order of the day. In addition we still had our regular university courses. This went on until June 1943 when we were ordered to active duty. 

Because I had quite a bit of experience in radio I was sent to Camp Crowder, Missouri in the Army Signal Corps.

After regular basic training I was sent to the University of Minnesota for some electrical engineering courses and in March 1944 I went to Fort Monmouth, New Jersey for four months of Officer Candidate School and a few months of advanced radio school.

I was headed to the European Theater of Operations with my group when I was diverted and ended up working for the Army General Staff in the Pentagon. There I worked with Top Secret Cryptographic Communication systems handling the communications of the General Staff and top government officials with the overseas Army theater headquarters. It was interesting duty because we were in on many strategy conferences between General Eisenhower and General Marshall and others that determined the course of the war. We also handled all of the communications for the 20th Air Force that was engaged in bombing Japan.

After that tour I went to General MacArthur’s headquarters in Manila. This is where the planning was taking place for the invasion of Japan that was going to happen on November 1, 1945. The war ended on August 15, 1945 and there was a change in our activities. 

We had constructed a flotilla of seven ships for communications that was to be used in the invasion of Japan. These had been used in the recapturing of the Philippines.

I stayed in Manila until July 1946 winding down the war effort and providing communications between Manila and Washington D. C. concerning the independence of the Philippines that took place on July 4, 1946.

After dismantling and packing all of the secret equipment, some 50 tons of it, we couriered it back to the Army Security Agency in Arlington, Virginia, and I was subsequently deactivated.

After about three and half years of active duty, I went back to school and graduated.

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A few pictures from Candidate Mehl's time in service...

 Don Mehl - in Luzon  Don Mehl - Detachment 4 805th SSC - Luzon
 Judiciary building, Manila
Mehl - island of Guam 1945 
Don Mehl - NYC 
Don and Arthur Mehl  Mehl & Price at old Manila City Hotel 
Mehl, HamiltonField enroute to Manila 
Mehl - Manila, ASWESPAC 
Mehl with friends, Luzon  Don Mehl - Corregidor 
Grandfather & Grandson First Salute - Donald Mehl 


This page originally posted 1 June, 2012, updated 1 June, 2012 

Candidate Mehl is the author of an excellent book on Army Signal Corps communications and encryption. To read a review of his book click here . To buy a copy of it please visit our PX page.

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