Happy Ground Observer Corps Day

It’s July 14th and you know what that means, right? Bastille Da…no wait, Ground Observer Corps Day! What are you doing to celebrate? Are you having a picnic with your fellow observers? Did you get a nice little ceremony at your observation post with town officials? Is there a nice shout out in the paper to you and your fellow observers? Or are you somewhat ashamed to admit that you didn’t know this was happening and first learned about Ground Observer Corps Day when you read this blog post?

GOC Day was set aside by the US Air Force (USAF) on July 14th, 1954 because it was the second anniversary of Operation Skywatch. While I don’t have exact details on what prompted the USAF to declare such as day, the idea certainly goes along with the overall advertising strategy of for the USAF – get the community involved and promote your members.

The memos to the chief observers announcing GOC Day are filled with inspirational facts about the GOC that presumably, post supervisors can use in their own promotional materials and recruitment efforts. These facts give an interesting look at observers.

The Numbers

  • 19,000 observation posts
  • 49 filter centers
  • Across 39 states
  • 350,000 observers – on their way to a goal of 500,000 minimum staffing
  • 80% of observers are women
  • $5,000,000 phone bill totaling 1/3rd of the USAF phone budget

There are other tidbits like how some observers use a TV while they observe as it not only provides a relief from boredom but planes shake the picture and alert them to make an observation.

There are many differently-abled observers such as people in wheelchairs, a bedridden observer, and a blind-deaf duo who work together. The GOC was very behind including anyone who wanted to volunteer and could do any amount of work, no matter how small.

Other observer feats include observers who saved a hotel full of people from a fire by spotting the smoke before the alarms went off. Other observers foiled robberies or spotted dangerous weather. Lastly, one couple had their 30th wedding anniversary at their local observation post.

This ad in The Missoulian proclaims that fathers and sons can observe together and teen-agers can earn their wings too. It also has stock promotional material from the USAF and is sponsored by a local community group.

I’m still trying to find articles on how people actually celebrated. But I did find that in 1956, two years later, Canton, OH proclaimed June 14th as GOC Day.

Whatever you are up to on this day, remember to look up and think about the GOC.

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