596 Signal Company


596 Joint Assault Signal Company  (JASCO)

Joint Assault Signal Company
The following is from the Signal Corps Museum

On 6 June 1944, through rough seas and under cloudy skies, American forces landed on the Normandy beaches designated as Utah and Omaha.  To support this vast undertaking, the First Army had assembled 13,420 signalers.  Col. Grant A. Williams served as first army signal officer.  The signal troops included three units (the 286th, 293rd and 294th) of a new type, the Joint Assault Signal Company or JASCO, originally created in the Pacific in late 1943 specifically to furnish communications during joint Army-Navy amphibious operations.

The organization of JASCO demonstrated one of the ways the Army's amphibious assault doctrine and techniques had matured since the North African campaign.  JASCOs operated as part of special engineer brigades, units designed to organize invasion beaches for supply.  The joint companies provided the critical communications link between the ships offshore and the assaulting units on the beach as well as among the assault teams themselves.  JASCOs also coordinated both naval and aerial fire.  Much larger than a standard signal company and commanded by a major, the joint companies contained as many as five to six hundred communications specialists from the Army (Signal Corps and Field Artillery), Army Air Forces and Navy.  The JASCO was divided into a battalion shore and beach party communications section, a shore fire control section and an air liaison further subdivided into teams.

The Signal Corps also contributed significantly to the execution of the assault through the use of radio countermeasures (RCM).  These included jamming the enemy's radar electronically and such deceptive practices as dropping aluminum foil from planes to blind hostile sensors by producing false echoes

The information below came from Mr. Ed Petrie.  He was one of the original members of the 596th JASCO in 1945 whom I was fortunate to locate through the internet.  I had the honor of communicating with him via e-mail.  


Let me tell you what JASCO was about.

The mission of the JASCO was to observe and direct Naval support gunfire during the invasion of the Japanese home islands.  This was to be accomplished by sending teams from JASCO ashore with the assault waves to observe the efficacy of the artillery support from Naval ships lying offshore and to adjust their fire to more effectively support the landing.

The teams were to consist of 2 forward observers (ones an Army field artillery officer and the other a Naval gunnery officer), 2 radio operators, 2 wire men and a jeep driver.  These men were also to be equally divided between Army and Navy.  I was one of the Army radio operators.

Before JASCO I had been to radar school at Camp Murphy, Florida and was qualified to repair gun-laying radars.  I was expecting to be assigned to the anti-aircraft artillery, but, as you know, the Army moves in mysterious ways and I found myself in code school at Fort Jackson, South Carolina.
In due course a bunch of us were discharged from code school and shipped to the Field Artillery School at Fort Sill, Oklahoma for, as I remember, a short course in field artillery methods.  Then we were put on a train and, a few days later, arrived at the Navy's Amphibious Training Base at Oceanside, California.  Here we were to form our teams and train for the big event.

A few days after our arrival at Oceanside a bunch of us were waiting in line to go into the mess hall for breakfast when a young boy carrying a big stack of newspapers came running along the line yelling "EXTRA! EXTRA! Atom bomb falls on Japan!".

I bought a paper and after reading about this unbelievably powerful bomb which could obliterate an entire Japanese city, I said to myself "I think the war is over".  A couple of days later, after the second bomb fell on Nagasaki, I said to myself "the was is over", and so it was.

So, that was the end of JASCO 596.  We were broken up and sent to wherever the Army could accommodate us until it discharged us.

There is an excellent account of JASCO operations here:  http://jasco295.tripod.com/


11.12.05 09:24

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