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From Our Home Page Archive:
Page as originally published in May 2015
— This Month —
How Enemies Become Best Friends
Signal Corps Successes
How Seven Signal OCS Graduates Built The
103rd Infantry Division’s Signal Company – Part II of IV –
An Archive Of War – Part VI
- - - - -
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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
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
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
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
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
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
So what do you think? Should we toss our lot in
with Vietnam? Against China?
I vote yes.
Signal Corps Successes
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
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
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
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.
Understandable though it
was, Ike’s command to
assure a secure defensive base void of Germans
if Devers left his current position and moved
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
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
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.
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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
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.
2nd Lt. BERNARD BECK, Sig C. Radio Officer,
2nd Lt. DENNIS A. DELANEY, Telephone & Telegraph Officer,
2nd Lt. CHARLES A. DEWS, Supply Officer,
2nd Lt. MAURICE A. HANNON, Sig C. Motor Officer,
2nd Lt. JOHN C. MITCHELL, Sig C. Construction Officer,
2nd Lt. JACK OWENS, Sig C. Radio Intelligence Officer,
2nd Lt. JULIUS S. SEDENSKY, Sig C. Construction Officer,
and later, as the war unfolded...
43-16: 2nd. Lt. Ray Vanderby joined them.
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
Their opposite number, Ms. Hillary Clinton, obviously never
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
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 world—and 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
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
If you've been reading along, you know that in this column we give you examples,
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
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.