Arrival of OSS Recruits at Catoctin

Catoctin Mountain Park

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Somewhere in America, the United States is developing hundreds of recruits for this specialized service. Hand picked, with the aid of Army and Navy intelligence facilities, the men are taken under guard to the secret training camp which is to be their home for the weeks to follow. The area is located high in an eastern mountain range miles from the nearest village and under constant guard by U.S. soldiers and Marines. This isolated heavily wooded terrain offers an excellent proving ground for the student of guerrilla tactics. Classes are limited to less than a dozen men thus ensuring the utmost security and providing almost individual instruction for each student. From the moment of their induction, the identities of the recruits remain a carefully guarded secret which explains the use of masks in this film. From whence they came, or for what perilous mission they're being prepared, is a concern if nobody at camp. In this group, there are some who speak very little English. One of them has fought in four wars, two of them are veteran guerrillas from the Spanish Loyalist forces. Several have seen their relatives and friends die at the hands of the enemy. After the senior instructor has delivered a short induction speech, he presents each man with an identification badge bearing a first name only. From this point onward ,the students are known by officers and fellow recruits merely as student “Jack” or student “Fred” or whatever name has been assigned them. They will be confined at all times to the camp area and when they finally leave, it will be to proceed immediately and incommunicado to the conveyance that takes them to the scene of action. Every item of personal equipment is supplied by the government. The men arrive without so much as a toothbrush or pencil. During this training period, emphasis is put on close association among members of the same student groups.An expert guerrilla or saboteur must not only think can act quickly for himself, but must almost anticipate the next action of his colleague. Individual quarters are hidden in the woods and the students are taught to live in seclusion in conditions simulating those they may encounter as guerrillas behind enemy lines.


Actual footage from OSS training videos produced by John Ford. Captioning added by the National Park Service.