Chiefs of Signal
Lieutenant General James D. O'Connell
1955 - 1959
Totally different from the static trench fighting of World War I, World War II involved rapid mobility across Europe, crossing mountains in the China, Burma, and India theaters, and island hopping in the Pacific. With men like LTG James D. O'Connell, the Signal Corps provided the communications that regardless of mobility and terrain "got the message through.”
Born in Chicago, Illinois, on 25 September 1899, O'Connell graduated from West Point and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Infantry on 13 June 1922. After one infantry assignment, O'Connell attended Signal School at Camp Alfred Vail, New Jersey, graduating in June 1925. Assignments during the 1920s, included Communications Officer of the 35th Infantry Regiment and a company command with the 24th Infantry.
Detailed to the Signal Corps in 1928, O'Connell served as an instructor at the Signal School. By 1930, he had earned a Master of Science degree in Communication Engineering at Yale University and returned to the school as an instructor until 1936. Once more, O'Connell pursued his own education, this time at Command and General Staff School. He graduated in 1937 and returned to Fort Monmouth, serving first as Project Officer and later as Executive Officer of the Signal Corps Laboratories.
During World War II, O'Connell's duties included a tour in the Office of the Chief Signal Officer as Chief of the General Development Branch, Executive Officer of the Signal Supply Service and with Headquarters, 12th Army Group in England France and Germany. When the war ended, O'Connell returned to the United States as Chief of Engineering and then Director of the Signal Corps Engineering Laboratories at Fort Monmouth.
O'Connell served as Signal Officer of the Eighth Army in Japan from 1947 to 1948, and after a tour as Chief Signal Officer of the Second Army, was once again assigned to the Office of the Chief of Signal. After serving there as Deputy Chief Signal Officer, he became the 17th Chief Signal Officer from 1955-1959.
LTG O'Connell's military honors include the Legion Of Merit with Oak Leaf Cluster, Eastern Campaign Medal with five Bronze Stars and France's Croix de Guerre Ordre de l'Armee with Palm. After retiring, O'Connell used his technological and leadership abilities with the General Telephone and Telegraph Company. Among his civilian distinctions, were election as a Fellow, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and recognition in the 12th Edition of American Men and Women of Science.