Russell C. Coile
Professor, and the Engineer Unit had a Captain, Corps of Engineers as
I was studying electrical Engineering in Course VI-A so I was automatically
enrolled in the Signal Corps Unit. The students studying physics, Course
VIII, and mathematics, Course XVIII were also in the Signal Corps Unit.
Our Associate Professor of Military Science and Tactics was Major Kirke B.
Lawton, Signal Corps.
We were sent to Camp Dix, New Jersey in the summer of 1935 for six
weeks of practical training in Signal Corps operations. We lived in tents.
Discipline was strict -- we were 'put on report' for being absent if we were
just a few feet away from being in our assigned place in the formation
when the `fall in' command was given. The punishment was being assigned
guard duty during our leisure time when everyone else was swimming, or to
spend an hour `policing the area' (picking up cigarette butts). I qualifi ed as
`marksman' with the Pistol Caliber .45 M1911A1 on the pistol range.
We learned how to lay miles of telephone fi eld wire and operate
switchboards. One of the students was hit by lightning during a thunderstorm
one afternoon when we were laying wire. He was lucky he wasn't killed. A
student from Cornell ended up in the hospital when he accidentally stabbed
himself in the leg with one of his pole-climbing leg irons. The training was
great fun even if the heat, the dust, the rain and the mud combined to give
us a realistic taste of what providing Signal Corps communications under
fi eld conditions was all about. I was promoted to Cadet Major in the Signal
My 1938 MIT yearbook, TECHNIQUE has a photograph of the 28
student members of the ARMY Ordnance Association. Our honorary Signal
Corps fraternity Pi Tau Pi Sigma apparently didn't have enough money in
our treasury to pay for a photograph of us to be included in the yearbook.
Our Theta Chapter at MIT of Pi Tau Pi Sigma was organized in 1933 at
Fort Monmouth, New Jersey according to a news article in MIT's The Tech,
Volume LIII, No. 42, Tuesday November 7, 1933.
I was in Course VI-A, the cooperative electrical engineering course. In
the spring of our sophomore year we could apply to be in a special program
for the next three years during which time we would be on a three semester
per year basis. We would alternate a semester of study in Cambridge with
a semester of work as a student engineer at a company. We would then
be scheduled to receive our bachelor's degree and our master's degree