January 2019 Newsletter
Happy New Year, 2019! May it be one of continued growth and accomplishments for your Alumni Association.
A new year always brings change and this year is no exception. After five years of service to the Association, first as vice president of administration and then four years as president, I have made the decision to not run for reelection as president. This is the time for a change, one that is not only generational but also is an era change. At our December 3, 2018 meeting in Columbus, Georgia, the Board of Directors elected Frank Harman as the incoming president. Frank, as you know, has been very active since he joined the Board of Directors in late 2015, first as secretary and then for the last two years as vice president of administration. You know him best as the guiding force for the Memorial Walk, a great success, and now as project manager of the OCS Heritage Center. I am confident Frank will continue to move the Association forward in accomplishing our mission. Ken Braswell, from Florida, was elected as vice president of operations. He will take over from Dr. Pat Smith, who did not run for reelection for that position, but will continue to be the membership chairman. Pat has done great work both with membership and preserving our legacy by putting our yearbooks on line as well as other pictures and written materials. Pat was the first person I asked to serve in 2015 with me and has provided me with sound advice as we moved the Association forward. I am happy he will continue to serve. Dan Johnson, from Nebraska, will be the new vice president of administration, replacing Frank, and Rick Jung, from Florida, was elected as treasurer, replacing Tom Evans. Tom has been elected as president of the Ranger Association and consequently his time is limited, but he has agreed to stay on the Board and assist Rick Jung. Tom is the architect of our financial management program and has taken a shaky financial situation and turned it into a model of accountability and transparency. We are all proud of Tom’s accomplishments! The change of Association officers’ ceremony will be conducted at the general membership meeting on April 29 at the reunion.
Change is good because it brings new ideas and energy from a new group of officers to invigorate the Association. As I stated earlier, we have a paradigm shift that is not only a generational change but also an era change. When I joined the Board in 2014, all Board members, including me, were 70 years or older. All were Korean or Vietnam-era veterans who wanted to serve their school that gave them a sound foundation to succeed in the military or civilian pursuits. They performed their duties to the best of their abilities and I thank them for their service. The newly elected officers are younger, post-Vietnam era, and most graduated from a branch-immaterial OCS. While there is and will continue to be Vietnam-era Board members, the generation and era change is vital to our progress. We honor sage advice as well as new innovations and ideas.
During the past four years, much has been accomplished. First, we were once a Columbus, Georgia, southeast U.S. organization, but we now have recruited Board members who live in Virginia, Florida, California, New Mexico, Nebraska, Ohio, Illinois, and volunteer support across the United States. Secondly, chapter development was and is a priority. Washington D.C., Florida, and Colorado are active chapters and we are welcoming our newest chapter, the Orange County, California chapter, at the reunion. This chapter consists of many Vietnamese officers who graduated from Fort Benning OCS in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Tom Evans was instrumental in its establishment and currently serves as their president. Thirdly, the OCS birthday is now recognized and celebrated on July 1, the date the first OCS class began their 90-day journey, 78 years ago. Lastly our mission statement, to preserve the legacy and history of OCS, is exemplified in the Memorial Walk at the OCS Battalion and the OCS Heritage Center in Wigle Hall. Their completion will be a true tribute to the history and heritage of the Officer Candidate School. As many of you know, we are in the process of expanding the Memorial Walk and establishing the OCS Heritage Center. You do not want to be left out on either of these projects. It is time to have a facility which contains the past, present, and future history of OCS. We will unveil the first phase of the OCS Heritage Center on April 30, 2019 at the reunion. All these accomplishments have taken a lot of energy and many hours of volunteer work on behalf of an outstanding Board of Directors and other volunteers. I am grateful for their service.
It has been a privilege and an honor to serve as your president. I will continue to serve on the Board as president emeritus. The president emeritus, a position which was adopted in the Bylaws two years ago, is a position that will provide continuity, while allowing the president and other Board officers to handle the day-to-day activities. The president emeritus will serve as ambassador and advocate at the state and national level and chair the Advisory Council. I am looking forward to fulfilling this new role.
We have come a long way in the past few years and I know that the next years will be exciting as we honor the service and history of our OCS graduates. I ask you to continue to be advocates for our commissioning source. Our story must be told and hopefully you will be the one to do so.
See you at the reunion!
Colonel (USA Retired)
Greetings from Fort Benning!
The battalion’s been busy over the fall and early winter training officer candidates. By the end of March, we will have commissioned over 600 second lieutenants in the Regular Army, National Guard, and Army Reserve. Unlike last year, we are not required to increase our size as our current structure is sufficient to achieve our goals.
In addition to our mission of training and commissioning officers, the battalion will focus inward and improve some of our systems. The cadre will take a thorough look at all training material to ensure the material is current and relevant. Moreover, we will implement a more in-depth cadre training process to ensure our officer candidates get the best from our instructors. Both of these goals will be complete before this summer.
Along with senior leaders at Fort Benning and select OCS Alumni Association board members, we successfully chose 37 OCS alumni for induction into the OCS Hall of Fame. The 2019 OCS Hall of Fame selectees will be inducted during the 2019 OCS Alumni Association reunion April 28 through May 1 at Fort Benning. In addition to the induction, the Alumni Association and the battalion will conduct a rededication ceremony for our Memorial Walk, which is currently undergoing expansion. At this time, we continue to plan to unveil the new OCS Heritage Center located in Wigle Hall. We will continue to update the OCS website regarding specifics of the reunion week as we get closer to those dates.
Standards!! No Compromise!!
Matthew B. Chitty
Lieutenant Colonel, Armor
Wisdom of Old for The New Year
I have a habit that my wife, Teresa, sometimes scolds me about—I am a recovering packrat. I keep clippings from newspapers and pages of letters from friends and family that contain those little nuggets of truth. One never knows when they may come in handy! As I sat in front of my computer screen trying to find just the right words to start the New Year, I came across an old yellowed scrap of paper that contained some of those nuggets. It was written to me by my late father, Cecil O. Boone, after a holiday period where I found myself just too busy to come home, not knowing that would have been the last holiday we could spend together. Just a few weeks later, he sacrificed himself at the controls of a charter airplane so that his passengers might live. Here are the words he wrote from an unknown source.
“Imagine life as a game in which each of us is juggling five balls in the air. They are named: work, family, health, friends, and spirit and we are keeping all of these in the air. We soon discover that much of our work is a rubber ball. If dropped, it will bounce back. But the other four balls are made of glass. If any of these are dropped, they will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged, or even shattered. They will never be the same. Thus, we must strive for balance in life.”
The following are suggestions on how this might be done.
Don’t determine your worth by comparing yourself to others. It is because we are different, that each of us is special. Don’t set your goals by what other people deem important. Only you (with God’s help) know what is best for you. Don’t take for granted the things closest to your heart. Cling to them as if they were your life; for without them, life is meaningless. Don’t let your life slip through your fingers by living in the past or only for the future. By living your life one day at a time, you live all the days of your life. Don’t give up when you still have something to give!
Nothing is really over until the moment you stop trying. Don’t be afraid to admit you are less than perfect. It is this fragile thread that binds us together. Don’t be afraid to encounter risks. It is in taking chances that we learn how to be brave. Don’t shut love out of your life by saying it’s impossible to find time. The quickest way to receive love is to give it wings. Don’t run through life so fast that you forget not only where you’ve been, but also where you are going! A person’s greatest emotional need is to feel appreciated. Take time to say “thank you” and “I love you.” Don’t be afraid to learn. Knowledge is weightless, a treasure you can always carry easily. Don’t use time or words carelessly. Neither can be retrieved. Life is not a race, but a journey to be savored each step of the way.
Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That is why we call it “the present.”
I wish you the best New Year possible.
Chaplain (Colonel, USA Retired) Sam Boone is a graduate of OCS Class 2-74.
The Boys of Chattahoochee: Sons of the Greatest Generation
The Boys of Chattahoochee: Sons of the Greatest Generation are memories recalled through the eyes of Cold War-era military veterans. Tested up to and including the extremes of combat leadership in Vietnam, they were taught by one of the finest organizations in the world: the U.S. Army Infantry Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning, Georgia.
Eleven contributors placed their fingerprints upon these pages. From all parts of America, they came together as classmates for a period of time that 50 years later continues to arouse the most deeply felt of feelings.
What some might describe as typical sons of the greatest generation, you, the readers, will turn the pages to stories much more than expected as told by this assembly of young American boys turned into leaders of men.
Darrell Mudd is a graduate of Class 27-67. He left active duty in 1971 and worked for the Coors Brewery in Golden, Colorado until retirement in 2003. He credits his alma mater, Regis College, with his interest in writing through their Center for the Study of War Experience.
Editor’s Note: This book is currently out-of-print for both soft and hard copy editions; however, it is still available as an e-book.
Candidate Kaitlyn Macaulay
I was born and raised in Newark, New York. Prior to joining the Army, I volunteered as a firefighter for four years in my hometown where I spent many hours training as well as volunteering my time to help the community. In times of emergency I had to drop everything and respond to life-threatening situations.
I joined the Army because I desired a challenging occupation that would give me a purpose and I knew the Army would provide that. In addition, I knew the Army would give me a skill set that I would otherwise unlikely obtain in the civilian world. Unlike many recruits whose family members are veterans, no one in my family has ever served in the military. I decided to pave the path for my future family and set an example by serving my country.
Prior to joining the Army, I received a Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood and Special Education with a Concentration in American Sign Language and then furthered my education by obtaining a Master’s Degree in Reading and Literacy. I came to OCS to ensure our country has a bright future: mentoring and cultivating our next generation is critical. I want to take my teaching skills to the front lines to enlighten, inspire, and guide my fellow Soldiers.
Currently I am in the process of deciding what branch I would like. Choosing a branch is a lot harder than one would think. After spending many hours researching which branch is the right fit for me and talking to multiple cadre members, I came to the conclusion that Armor Branch is where I see myself for the next 20 years.
I am looking forward to the challenges ahead!
Candidate Macaulay is scheduled to be commissioned in late February.
2nd Lt. Cole Manhart
I am 2nd Lt. Cole Ryder Manhart and I hail from Highlands Ranch, Colorado.
Before joining the United States Army, I attended the University of Nebraska at Kearney on an athletic scholarship for football where I obtained my Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice. I am proud to say I was a two-time team captain, two time All-American, and the 2014 student athlete of the year for my university.
Upon graduating, I played in the National Football League for two seasons, most notably for the Pittsburgh Steelers. During my time in the NFL, I was able to further hone my leadership skills, which earned me the respect of some of the greatest athletes in the world.
In 2017 I decided to walk away from the NFL to pursue a higher calling—serving the United States of America. I want to give back to the country that has awarded me every chance to accomplish my dreams. I feel serving in the United States Army as a commissioned officer will grant me an excellent opportunity to be around men and women of outstanding character. I understand the future of our Army and the United States of America rests in the hands of my generation. As a steward for the future of our Army, I know it will be necessary to continue my growth as a leader. Attending Sandhurst will provide me an opportunity to build on my training and become the Infantry officer my country needs me to be.
Editor’s Note: 2nd Lt. Kelly Weigand recently completed her one-year training at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. 2nd Lt. Manhart started his training this month.
Editor’s note: The next two stories highlight a familial connection with OCS and the Army. They illustrate not only family traditions of service, but commissioned service with its roots in OCS. The lessons of OCS are timeless.
The Drew family’s officer candidate heritage: A story of two generations of three proud OCS graduates and their service to our country.
There are three “Drews” who have had the privilege of graduating from the U. S. Army Officer Candidate School. The three account for over 75 years of active duty service to our country. It all started with Joe Drew, OCS Class of 2-63, followed by brother Fred Drew, OCS Class of 6-66; finally, the next generation, Tom Drew (son of Joe) OCS Class of 501-89.
Joe enlisted in 1961. He was a rifleman in the 1st Infantry Division at Fort Riley, Kansas when he applied for OCS. He was a candidate in 52nd Company. The classes were held in Building 35, across the street from the then Fort Benning Officers’ Club. This was before Building 4 was built.
Fred, younger brother of Joe, entered OCS in October 1965 after serving as a rifleman in the 8th Infantry Division in Germany. He was in 50th Company. Many will remember the row of OCS company buildings; Wigle Hall along the “marching alley;” the pull-up bars on the way to the mess hall; and taking breaks from the 200-man classrooms in Building 4, standing at attention against the hallway walls.
Tom, son of Joe, entered OCS in the summer of 1989 after serving several years as a warrant officer aviator. Tom has made his dad and uncle very proud as he has achieved the rank of brigadier general.
What was OCS like and what did OCS mean to these three dedicated officers
Joe Drew: OCS was tough. It was meant to be. It converted me from a rather unknowing teenager to capable leader and set me on the path of a successful military career. It toughened my resolve to never quit on an assignment; it gave me the tools to lead with confidence; and it strengthened me physically so I could lead by example, even under the toughest conditions. I still use the problem-solving skills I learned in the program. Perhaps the one skill that I have used most frequently over the years is the art of negotiation. I credit my OCS experience with preparing me for the outstanding career and life I have lived since graduation.
I was a distinguished graduate, commissioned on March 29, 1963 in Armor Branch. In 1964, I was selected to attend the Officer Rotary Wing Aviator course, graduating in 1965 as a distinguished graduate. I served two years in Vietnam in flying assignments (1966 and 1971). Over my 20-year career, I held command positions, including battalion command, for approximately four and a half years. I was awarded the Legion of Merit, two Distinguished Flying Crosses, three Bronze Stars (V device), 22 Air Medals (V Device), and 2 Purple Hearts. I retired in 1981 as a lieutenant colonel.
Fred Drew: As Joe said, OCS was meant to be tough and it was. I reported to 50th Company on Halloween Day, 1965 and there were more tricks than treats. I had spit shined my boots and my fatigues were starched with the proper patches, so I was made the Company XO! I learned quickly how to cooperate and graduate. OCS taught great lessons of leadership and followership that stayed with me throughout my military career and beyond. There was a lot of stuff provided by the TAC officers in those days, but I was lucky to have a TAC, 2nd Lt. Tom Murden, who had been an NCO before he graduated from OCS, so our platoon was not subjected to as much of the hazing as some of the other platoons. The culminating lessons of OCS and receiving a commission in the United States Army remains one of the highlights of my life.
As a distinguished graduate, I chose to stay at Fort Benning as a TAC for a year before my first tour in Vietnam. Several years later, I returned to Fort Benning as a Captain in the Director of Instruction Office as a course monitor. In that capacity, in 1975, I wrote the initial curriculum that changed the 23-week Infantry OCS course to the 14-week Branch Immaterial Officer Candidate Program, so I had a long and detailed connection with OCS over many years. I held many demanding command and staff positions in my 20 years of military service, but as I have recently talked to Soldiers of the 23rd Infantry Regiment at Fort Irwin, California, the best job I had in the Army was commanding an infantry company in combat on my second tour in Vietnam. My awards include the Silver Star, four Bronze Star medals (one with V device), Legion of Merit, Presidential Unit Citation, and the Combat Infantry Badge. I retired in 1984 as a Lieutenant Colonel. In 2015, the Secretary of the Army appointed me the Honorary Colonel of the 23rd Infantry Regiment.
Brig. Gen. Tom Drew: I entered the Army shortly after my 18th birthday with the ultimate goal of becoming a commissioned officer. Both my father and my uncle were OCS graduates and role models that I wanted to emulate by serving our country and being a Soldier. After seven years on active duty, I was selected to attend OCS in the summer of 1989. Although my version of OCS was different from that of the 1960s, it was still very challenging and taught the basics of small unit leadership. Whether you were a prior service candidate, or coming to OCS right out of basic training, OCS gave all of us practical leadership experience in myriad tough environments with objective feedback from cadre and peers. For me, it helped me see myself as others did and allowed me to be the best leader I could be.
Some of the foundational lessons I learned in OCS, lead from the front, communicate clearly, be selfless in word and deed, set the conditions for my success and have sustained me for 29 years of commissioned service. Over the years I have learned Soldiers will execute in combat what they are taught in training. I was a prime example as a second lieutenant during Operation Desert Storm. Sixteen months after graduating from OCS, I led an attack helicopter raid into Iraq on January 17, 1991. It was my first combat mission and I found myself thinking back to OCS and the example of retired Col. Wigle who I had the pleasure of meeting just prior to graduating in 1989. Col. Wigle gave a brief account of the actions for which he was awarded the Medal of Honor during World War II. He told us candidates that confidence inspires others to follow and nothing inspires confidence more than leading the charge. Therefore, prior to walking off to our individual aircraft on that cold January night, I got my platoon together one last time and went through a few of the intelligence updates and ended with, “We get in, we get out, nobody gets hurt, and everybody comes home…we’ve got this!” It was a statement I had said somewhat jokingly in training, but was familiar to all and seemed to break the tension of the moment. The mission was successful and drove home to me the indispensable value of my OCS experience. I went on to command a company, battalion, and brigade in combat. In the years since my first combat mission and during each tour, I can trace some of my unit’s successes back to my time at Fort Benning as a candidate in OCS. I have been awarded the Legion of Merit (3 OLC), Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star (5 OLC), and the Air Medal with V Device (3 OLC). I remain on active duty at Fort Bragg proudly serving our country.
The Drew Family OCS Heritage is long and storied. All three of these exceptional officers and OCS graduates have been inducted into the OCS Hall of Fame, an honor they cherish greatly.
Retired Lt. Col. Joe Drew
Retired Lt. Col. Fred Drew
Brig. Gen. Tom Drew
Burton L. Masters
A family tradition of military service began with Col. John Masters, OCS graduate and World War II veteran. Here is his story written by his son retired Col. Burton Masters.
Col. John J. Masters, Sr., U.S. Army, Ret. graduated from OCS at Fort Benning, Georgia on November 21, 1944 and was commissioned a second lieutenant of Infantry. He was born in 1924 in St. Augustine, Florida, the nation’s oldest city, descended from one of the original Spanish (Menorcan) families which settled in Florida. He completed a highly successful 32-year Army career serving in World War II, Korea, the Vietnam War, and the Cold War.
Dad’s military career began in the Florida National Guard as a private. In July 1943, he was inducted into active military service at Camp Blanding, Florida and sent to Camp Gruber, Oklahoma for basic training, part of the Florida contingent of the newly reactivated 42nd Infantry “Rainbow” Division of World War I fame. In December 1944, he sailed from New York on the RMS Aquitania en route to Scotland. He joined Company I, 315th Infantry Regiment, 79th Infantry “Cross of Lorraine” Division as an Infantry platoon leader in January 1945 and engaged in bitter, house-to-house street fighting in the Battle of Rittershoffen-Hatten, Alsace, France. For his heroism, he was awarded the Bronze Star Medal and the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, with his unit earning a Presidential Unit Citation.
In later years, Dad recalled his WWII combat experiences: “During the battle in the village of Rittershoffen, my battalion was almost destroyed. It was very cold, but I was thrilled to at last see combat. There were 40 dead American Soldiers frozen on the ground in the apple orchard outside my platoon command post. I never could get warm or get enough sleep. The thrill (of combat) didn’t last. There was so much loss of human life which was unnecessary. The true face of war is so much human misery, hunger, and the utter destruction of towns and cities.”
After further action at Bischweiller, France, on March 24, 1945, Dad participated in the initial amphibious assault waves across the Rhine River at Dinslaken, Germany, where he was awarded the Silver Star Medal for heroism. He participated in the encirclement of the Ruhr Valley and the reduction of the Ruhr Pocket. On April 6, 1945, he was wounded by German mortar fire in the assault over the Rhine-Herne Canal at Bottrop, Germany, earning the Purple Heart. Until his death in 2012, he carried shrapnel in his leg from this action.
In May 1945, he received a battlefield promotion to first lieutenant. After the close of the war in Europe, Dad commanded a Russian and Polish displaced persons camp. In June 1945, he moved with his company to the towns of Lauterbach and Schonfeld in the Sudetenland (then Czechoslovakia), while the 79th Infantry Division remained in a state of readiness opposite the Russian Army. He then was placed in command of a Lithuanian displaced persons camp in Seligenstadt, Germany until November 1945, when he transferred to Company L, 26th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division at Nuremberg, Germany. There the company played a historic role in guarding the Palace of Justice for the famed war crime trials for the major Nazi war criminals. He saw all the German senior leadership on trial including Hermann Goering and Rudolph Hess.
While serving in the European Theater, Dad participated in the Central European, Ardennes-Alsace, and Rhineland campaigns – just the beginning of multiple tours of duty in Germany. His service during World War II transformed him both as an Army officer and leader of Soldiers. He never lost his perspective of the enlisted men he led in combat. The loss of three of his men from his platoon haunted him for the rest of his life. Years later, he visited the graves of two of his men buried at the Margraten American Military Cemetery in The Netherlands, where I was then assigned as a second lieutenant. This touched him deeply and he became emotional as he told me how his men were killed in the crossing of the Rhine. He felt a personal responsibility for their loss. So, in Europe, the Masters’ family story came full circle with one generation walking in the footsteps of the other. My wife, who is Dutch, and I continue this tradition by going to Margraten each year and laying flowers on their graves.
When asked about his wartime experiences, Dad said: “I have never had any bad dreams over my combat experiences, but no one who has killed another human being and witnessed firsthand the horrors of war can ever be the same. I was a 20-year-old lieutenant, with 40 Soldiers under me. I wasn’t even old enough to vote. I matured very fast, becoming a company commander at 21.”
Following World War II, due to the military drawdown, Dad reverted back to enlisted status as a staff sergeant. In 1947, he returned to Bamberg, Germany serving again with the 1st Infantry Division. He received a competitive reappointment as a commissioned officer in 1949. After several assignments in Grafenwoehr and Berlin, he was appointed as the Assistant Professor of Military Science from 1952-1954 for five of the Atlanta, Georgia public schools, where he met his wife, Cleo Sampson, a teacher.
After service in Korea, and upon establishment of the U.S. Army’s Military Intelligence (MI) branch, he was among the initial group of officers branch detailed to MI, joining the newly formed U.S. Army Security Agency (USASA) at Fort Devens, Massachusetts. He became the first commander of the Headquarters Company, USASA Training Regiment. He served successive tours in Herzo Base and Rothwesten, Germany with the 318th and 319th ASA battalions from 1959-1963.
In 1964, upon completing the Command and General Staff College, he assumed command of the newly formed 303rd ASA “Longhorn” Battalion at Fort Wolters, Texas. In May 1966, he deployed the battalion to South Vietnam in support of the II Field Force Vietnam’s involvement in counterinsurgency operations and participated in the Vietnam Counteroffensive Phase I and II campaigns. He relinquished command of the 303rd in 1967 and assumed command of the 507th ASA Group in Baumholder, Germany. Upon his retirement, he wrote a book about his Vietnam service, The Longhorn Battalion in Vietnam. (A copy of his book was donated to the OCS Alumni Association along with some of his personal wartime memorabilia for inclusion in the OCS Heritage Center at Wigle Hall.)
Following service with the National Security Agency at Fort Meade, Maryland, he assumed duties in 1973 as commander, USASA, Europe, headquartered in Heidelberg, Germany. In 1975, Dad retired and returned to his hometown of St. Augustine, where he returned to his roots, enjoying hunting and fishing and living the life of a gentleman farmer. He was instrumental in the founding of the local German-American club and served as president. As graves committee chair for the Sons of Confederate Veterans, Florida Division, he initiated and maintained a database of over 9,000 Confederate soldiers buried throughout the state, aiding many in ancestor research and identifying graves and obtaining headstones and markers for those who had none. He was also a life member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, and the Military Order of the Purple Heart.
The Masters’ family military tradition: Col. John J. Masters, Sr’s lifetime of selfless service to the nation inspired all his children to follow in his path. His two sons, John Jr. and Burton, born at Fort Devens, both became Army officers. John Jr. retired as a Lt. Col. in the Florida Army National Guard and Burton, as an active Army Col. His daughter, Elizabeth, born in Nuremberg, Germany, served as the first female JAG officer in the Florida National Guard. She also retired as a colonel.
Burton Masters was commissioned in 1979 through ROTC at the University of North Florida, Jacksonville. With 29 years of active and reserve service, he retired in 2008 as a colonel. His last assignment was as the Public Affairs Officer for the Army Reserve.
(Then) Lt. Col. Masters, Commander, 303rd ASA Battalion in Vietnam.
Lt. Col. Masters outside the 303rd ASA Battalion HQs in Vietnam.
Lt. Col. Masters with a buddy in Vietnam.
THE CROSS OF LORRAINE: 79TH INFANTRY DIVISION
The 79th Infantry Division’s history begins on August 5, 1917 at Camp Meade, Maryland with draftees from Maryland, Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia. As with all divisions, however, its actual wartime composition reflected significant changes as departures from the division and new arrivals from other states gave the division a broader character.
Deploying to France in July and August 1918, it escaped the fate of many divisions—the transition to a depot division that provided troops to other formations—and saw combat in the Meuse Argonne offensive. At the end of World War I, the division remained in France rather than serving as part of the Army of Occupation in Germany. With virtually all its overseas service taking place in France’s Lorraine Province, the division adopted the region’s symbol, the Cross of Lorraine, as its shoulder sleeve insignia in 1918.
Reactivated on June 16, 1942 with cadre coming from the 4th Infantry Division, the 79th Infantry Division started World War II service at Camp Pickett, Virginia. The division’s stay at Camp Pickett was brief, however, as the division moved to Camp Blanding, Florida; Camp Forrest, Tennessee; the Desert Training Center and Camp Young, California before arriving at Camp Phillips, Kansas for the final preparations for overseas movement in December 1943. These moves corresponded to completing basic combat training as a division, a process orchestrated by the Army Ground Forces, and participation in two major maneuvers—the Second Army’s Tennessee Maneuvers and the third round of maneuver training at the Desert Training Center. The division never realized the full benefit of its training. Significant numbers of division Soldiers were reassigned to the newly organizing 86th Infantry Division.
Arriving in France on June 14, 1944 (D+8), the division spent several days preparing for combat before officially entering action on June 19. This was the first of 248 days spent on the line as it battled through the five ground campaigns of the ground war in western Europe. The division served as one of the workhorses of the western front as it fought to the port of Cherbourg and then continued the attack to cross France’s major river, the Seine. Combat river crossings became a routine fact of life in the division as it would cross the Moselle, the Meurthe, and then the Rhine and Ruhr to participate in closing a major concentration of German troops, the so-called “Ruhr Pocket.”
Like most infantry divisions that experienced sustained combat, the division suffered heavy casualties. Official records show 2,475 Soldiers killed in action; 10,701 wounded in action; and 1,699 reported as missing in action. In addition to these 14,875 battle casualties, the division suffered an additional 8,852 non-battle casualties. Combined, the casualties came to 122 percent of the division’s authorized table of organization.
The division’s sacrifices, however, did not go unnoticed. OCS graduate Carlos C. Ogden, a graduate of Infantry OCS Class 98-42, joined the division after commissioning in November 1942. Ogden was awarded the Medal of Honor for actions as a platoon leader in Company K, 314th Infantry Regiment near Cherbourg on June 25, 1944, his seventh day of combat. His actions on that date included destroying an 88mm anti-tank gun, a weapon that devastated American armor, and two machine gun positions—despite having experienced a glancing blow to the head from a German machine gun and receiving a second wound. By war’s end, Ogden achieved the rank of major and was awarded, in addition to the Medal of Honor, a Bronze Star Medal, four Purple Hearts, and a Combat Infantryman’s Badge. Ogden was not the only member of the division to receive the Medal of Honor. Two other Soldiers also received the award. Additionally, division Soldiers received 13 Distinguished Service Crosses, 904 Silver Star medals, and 4,012 Bronze Star medals.
The division’s post-war history reflected the debates within the nation and the Army over force structure and the role of the U.S. Army Reserve as they played out through successive presidential administrations. In a nod to the division’s early origins, reactivation of the division took place in Philadelphia in 1946. It remained part of the Organized Reserve Corps/Army Reserve divisional structure through 1963 when it was redesignated as the 79th Operational Command Headquarters. The 79th Operational Command remained active through 1965 before it cased its colors. The division remained on the inactive rolls until 2009 when it reorganized as a functional command within the U.S. Army Reserve as the 79th Theater Sustainment Command. In this role, it oversees four expeditionary support commands spread across 19 western states, all capable of supporting operations globally.
While not activated during World War II, the division’s two World War I subordinate brigades, the 157th and 158th, also saw post-war service. The 157th remained one of the few combat brigades in the U.S. Army Reserve from 1963 through 1995. It reactivated as a training support brigade in 2006 with a home station of Camp Atterbury, Indiana. The 158th also reactivated as a training support brigade in 2006. Currently, Camp Shelby, Mississippi serves as the unit’s home station. As training support brigades, these formations have Soldiers from all three components training and coaching units prior to deployment to a combatant command’s area of operations.
Paul Cook is a retired colonel and doctoral student in military history at Temple University.
OCS HERITAGE CENTER
Do you want to see what the OCS Heritage Center at Wigle Hall at Fort Benning, Georgia will look like?
Here’s your chance. Thanks to Don Dare of station WATE, Knoxville, Tennessee, an OCS graduate, there is a first-class video showing you the background and building concepts of the new OCS Heritage Center. The video shows what Officer Candidate Schools have meant to the U.S. Army and how the OCS Heritage Center will preserve the legacy of the more than 250,000 OCS graduates in the Infantry, Armor, Artillery, Engineering, Transportation, or one of the other 11 schools. All graduates will be honored at the Heritage Center at Fort Benning. To see the OCS Heritage Center video, please click on this link.
We are so close! Will you help us reach our goal of $300,000? There are several levels of support. To see each one, please click on this link.
Remember no donation is too small or too large. Donations of any amount are welcomed and appreciated. Also, as an individual or business, you might want to consider a sponsorship where you can have your name prominently displayed at the Heritage Center. We can design a customized sponsorship package especially for you. Just contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
Donations may also be made by your personal or company check. (Note: Payments via the website reduce the amount of your donation due to a 3% merchant processing fee.) Please make checks payable to: The United States Army Officer Candidate Schools Alumni Association and mail to P.O. Box 430, Midland, GA 31820-0430.
MEMORIAL WALK EXPANSION
You asked; we answered! We are expanding the Memorial Walk adding additional square feet.
This expansion includes cul-de-sacs off the main walk. This gives us the capability to build more class monuments, erect additional dedication blocks, and place extra bricks and pavers throughout the memorial.
Have you ordered your brick or paver? This is truly a great way to memorialize your OCS experience and military duty. Go to the OCS Alumni Association website today and order your history.
OCS Reunion: April 28 – May 1, 2019
It’ll be here before you know it! Register now for the 2019 Alumni Association reunion. The reunion begins on Sunday, April 28 and concludes with the alumni banquet on Wednesday, May 1. The Columbus Marriott will again be our host hotel. This is going to be a great time with the opening of Phase I of the OCS Heritage Center; the dedication of more bricks, pavers, and class memorials; the induction of the 2019 Hall of Fame class; and the presentations of the Nett Award and the Patterson Award. Mini class reunions are welcome to celebrate with the national reunion. We have reserved at least one afternoon and night for class get togethers. A lot of the headaches, work, and planning for your reunion will be taken care of automatically when you piggyback with us.
In the past, we have had graduates representing every decade since the formal founding of OCS in July 1941. It truly is an amazing experience to meet people with whom you share a common bond that transformed all of our lives. We are all brothers and sisters in arms.
Online registration is available at the OCSAA website. For more information, contact Nancy Ionoff, Reunion Coordinator, at email@example.com or 813-917-4309.
General Membership Meeting: April 29, 2019
The U.S. Army Officer Candidate Schools Alumni Association will hold its annual meeting at 0900 on April 29, 2019 at the Marriott Hotel in Columbus, Georgia. At the meeting, the elections of directors will occur and briefings on the status of the Association and chapter activities will be presented. All members are welcomed to attend.
Election of Association Directors: April, 29, 2019
Four positions on the Association’s Board of Directors will be elected by Association members at the general membership meeting. The following individuals are on the Association ballot for a three-year term:
- Retired Col. John Ionoff
- Dr. Pat Smith
- Retired Col. Richard Jung
- Lt. Col. Christopher Bresko
Each of these nominees is currently a member of the Board of Directors. Full biographical information is available at the Association’s website. Online voting will be available no later than February 28, 2019 for members of the Association unable to attend the general membership meeting.
Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony: April, 29, 2019
Congratulations to the 2019 OCS Hall of Fame inductees! You can view this year’s list of inductees at the OCS Battalion website.
On Veterans Day, members of the DC Chapter along with the Association president presented wreaths at the World War II, Korean War Veterans Memorial, and Vietnam Veterans Memorial. On November 12, the DC Chapter and the Association and presented a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery. Retired Gen. Frederick Kroesen (Class 340-44) led the delegation.
Association President retired Col. John Ionoff (back) and DC Chapter Commander retired Col. John O’Shea (front) present a wreath at the World War II Memorial.
(L-R) DC Chapter Commander John O’Shea, Association President John Ionoff, Harold Dobbs, Ivan Shidlovsky, and Allen Tidwell at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
Brig. Gen. Pyo, the Korean Defense Attaché, speaks at the Korean War Veterans Memorial.
The wreath placed at the Korean War Veterans Memorial in honor of OCS graduates who fought and served in Korea.
Retired Gen. Frederick Kroesen (in green jacket) leads the Association delegation after laying the wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on November 16.
The Florida Chapter website is now online. Chapter members are encouraged to post their photo and biography, as well as amusing anecdotes under the Brasso/Buffers link.
For information about Colorado Chapter activities, contact James Earls at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Interested in establishing an OCS Alumni Association chapter in your area?
Association chapters are established to coordinate and promote activities and camaraderie at the local level. The chapters encourage fellowship and goodwill among the OCS graduate community and promote the purposes of the Association.
The Association has an SOP that describes the process for establishing and operating a chapter. To establish a chapter, a minimum of 10 founding members are required. The requirements for operating a chapter are submission of an annual report on the activities of the chapter and reporting any change in its leadership.
If any member is interested in establishing a chapter or would like to receive a copy of the SOP, please contact Chris Bresko at email@example.com.
- The OCS Alumni Association established the Nett Award to recognize and honor annually an OCS Hall of Fame or OCSAA member or current/former cadre who has provided superior support and advocacy of the OCS program. We are currently accepting nomination packages for this award. Deadline for submission is February 19, 2019. More information about award criteria is at the Association’s website. Send nominations to the Association’s Secretary, Dan Leifel, at firstname.lastname@example.org. The award is named for Robert B. Nett, an OCS graduate who was awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions in the Battle of Ormoc Bay in the Philippines in December 1944. Nett went on to command the 5th Student Battalion, OCS and later the Infantry School Brigade. Last year’s winner of this award was the Alumni Association Vice President for Administration, retired Col. Frank Harman. Frank was instrumental in the creation of the Memorial Walk and the impetus behind the OCS Heritage Center at Wigle Hall. Who will be the next recipient of this award?
- There are over 300 yearbooks listed on the OCS Alumni Association website. (First log in with your member password and then go to the Members drop down menu. Next click on Yearbooks, Programs, & Memorabilia.) A number of the yearbooks posted on the website do not have a graduation date. Please go to the website and see if your yearbook is there. If it has a graduation date entered of December 31, 0001, then we do not have the date and need your help. Even if there is a date, please review to ensure the class number and graduation date is correct. If the information needs to be updated or if your yearbook is not listed, please contact Dr. Patrick A. Smith at email@example.com or 951-712-3240. This is your history. Let’s preserve it for future generations.
- The OCS Alumni Association now has a LinkedIn account! To join, send an email request (from your civilian not military email account) to OCSLinkedIn@ocsalumni.org. Include your class number and graduation date in your request. Check out the page at //www.linkedin.com/school/army-ocs-alumni-association./.
- Check out the OCS Alumni Association online store for OCS-embossed coffee mugs, polo shirts, and baseball caps.
- Stan Blunt (1st Platoon, 51st Company, Infantry OCS Class 1-66) passed away January 2, 2019. Stan was a highly decorated veteran of the Vietnam War, awarded the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC), Silver Star, Bronze Star w/ “V” Device (1OLC), Army Commendation Medal, and two Purple Hearts. His DSC citation can be found at //infantryocs1-66.com/1st-platoon/stanley-a-blunt/.
- Seth Roy Sindel, 1LT, USAR (Ret.) Bronze Star, CIB, Purple Heart (Vietnam), died December 29, 2018 at the West Los Angeles Veterans Hospital. //www.legacy.com/obituaries/latimes/obituary.aspx?n=seth-roy-lt-sindel&pid=191230601
- Make sure you keep your contact information up to date! We sometimes get out-of- office automatic replies that don’t provide a forwarding email. Members can log into their account and update their information at the website.