View Full Version : Ground Observer Corps

06-09-2003, 03:08 PM
Most Americans are unaware of the Ground Observer Corps which served in the early 1950s. The GOC was made up of civilian volunteers and was administered by state Civil Defense officials and the US Air Force. As a teenager living in a small town in Southern Colorado, I volunteered as did my parents.
The GOC's function was to watch for and report aircraft while on duty. GOC posts were located throughout the United States and Canada. The national organization was designed as a temporary measure against an air attack from the Soviet Union until the construction of a Distant Early Warning (DEW) Line and "Pine Tree Line" of radar stations across Northern Canada and Greenland as well as along the US-Canada border.
GOC posts were organized and run by a locally selected Post Supervisor. Supervisors arranged duty schedules and notified Observers when they were supposed to man the post. Each post had a telephone which connected to a Regional "Filter Center," provided by the Air Force, manned by civilian volunteers. Observers reported aircraft to the Filter Center which tracked the planes from post to post.
The Air Force provided training for Observer and Filter Center personnel. Monthly GOC Post meetings included presentations by a USAF officer and NCO who showed motion pictures of atomic explosions, the latest Soviet bomber threats, and US counter-measures. It was enough to scare the bejeezus out of a Colorado cowtown teenager! When a volunteer became fully trained he was presented with a "wings" badge (similar to a pilot's "wings" but small enough to wear on a suit lapel), and certificate. Observers also received service medals with attached "hour bars" for having served on post for from 250 to 2500 hours.
In about 1956, the Ground Observer Corps was deactivated. Each volunteer received a letter of gratitude from President Eisenhower for his/her efforts in defense of the United States during the Cold War.
I've always taken a certain pride in the fact that the Rooskies didn't bomb Southern Colorado during my watch in the GOC!