While I’m getting my photos in order to start blogging properly, the Indiana Historical Blog has a great introduction to the Ground Observer Corps (GOC). To summarize, after WWII, the United States was in full nuclear mode, testing bigger and better bombs. The threat shifted from Nazis to Soviets, who could potentially exploit the holes in the existing radar grid and bomb US towns or spy on top secret facilities.
The military didn’t have the capability for extensive 24/7 surveillance of the skies so enter the GOC. President Dwight D. Eisenhower made a call for over a million civilian volunteers to watch the skies in support of civil defense and national security. The actual numbers of people who served during the time the GOC was active was probably between 500,000-800,000 but they served to boost preparedness and morale in the country until better radar systems were developed.
Links to other articles online:
- The Air & Space Magazine – When Civilians Scrambled Fighters
- Medium Timeline – Before decent radar, the U.S. enlisted 800,000 children, hobbyists, and other Americans as lookouts
- The Air Defense Radar Veterans Assoc – Great page on the GOC with lots of links to old units, existing sites, and accounts of people who served