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GROUND

OBSERVER

CORPS

In the early 1950's, a group of men from Darrtown participated in the Ground Observers Corps. This is verified by the following account, which Kirk Mee III contributed in September 2009.

There were two phases to the existence and/or operation of the Ground Observer Corps (GOC).

 

PHASE 1: During WWII, the GOC assisted the Army Air Forces by enrolling 1.5 million civilian volunteers who manned 14,000 observation posts along the nation's coasts. With limited radar detection capability, the GOC's mission was to visually search the skies for enemy aircraft attempting to penetrate American airspace. (Webmaster Notation: This may have been part of the Darrtown WWII era "air-raid warning practice" described in the Recollections of Ron Wiley.)

 

PHASE 2: In the early 1950's, in response to the belief that the Korean War served as a precursor to a possible Soviet attack, the GOC was revived. Eventually over 800,000 volunteers stood alternating shifts at 16,000 observation posts.

Kirk Mee III Shares Memories

of Observation Corps in Darrtown

 

Kirk Mee III related that, when he was about 10-12 years old, his father took him to a Saturday morning meeting of men at Luther McVicker's garage, which was located at the southern end of town. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss and participate in the procedures for spotting and identifying aircraft that was flying overhead.

 

Kirk recalled that this meeting occurred during the winter, as it was cold outside, and he remembered the pot-bellied stove that was heating the interior of the garage at the time. The men gathered around the stove to review the responsibilities of Ground Observatory Corps volunteers, before venturing outside to practice aerial observation. Kirk remembered seeing GOC training materials, which included pictures and silhouettes of various aircraft.

 

Once outside, according to Kirk's memory, the observation practice lasted only a few minutes, as the men soon drifted back inside, to the warmer confines of the garage. Kirk reflected that, as a youngster, he felt a bit irked that the adults left the practice exercise so soon and, perhaps to prove his level of commitment to the defense of the nation, he stayed outside a bit longer - by himself, looking upward, watching for aircraft - friendly or otherwise.

 

Kirk added that he remembers that his father once had a GOC lapel pin; but, unfortunately it has disappeared. Kirk's pin resembled the one that appears in the "GOC lapel pin" image at the left.

ABOVE: Example photo of a pin awarded to those who served in the GOC. Note that the lettering on the pin shows "GOC" in the center, surrounded by "United States Air Force" and the word "Observer" at the bottom.

More info: In the recollections that he contributed to this website, Ron Wiley commented about a Darrtown observation tower. Ron shared his memory of the tower with the following words:

"There was a lookout tower near the Dees grocery and the K of P lodge hall. I have asked several people and no one, so far, has found a picture of it . Would be an interesting addition to the website for historic purposes, if anyone comes up with one."

Background on the U.S. Ground Observers Corps

This information at the left was taken from:

(1) the Wikia.org website at: https://military.wikia.org/wiki/Ground_Observer_Corps

and

(2) the radomes website at: http://www.radomes.org/museum/documents/GOC/GOC.html

Background on the U.S. Ground Observers Corps - in Darrtown

Later, the following newspaper article surfaced, as confirmation of Ron's memory of the watch tower.

The Ground Observer Corps was a World War II civll defense program of the United States Army Air Forces designed to protect against air attack. The 1.5 million civilian observers at 14,000 coastal observation posts used naked eye and binocular searches to search for German and Japanese aircraft until the program ended in 1944

News Article confirms that Darrtown had observation post

The photo at the right and the following news item appeared in the Hamilton Journal News (circa early - 1950's)

 

"Sites at Reily, Ross, Maud, Jacksonburg, and Darrtown

 

Butler County's five new observation posts for the Ground Observer Corps were dedicated officially Wednesday night at at ceremony at the post site in Darrtown. The dedication marked the completion of GOC posts at Reily, Ross, Maud, Jacksonburg, and Darrtown. ...text missing..."Representing Darrtown were Warren Hansel, Ray Eiler, and William Ledwell, trustees; Kirk Mee, post supervisor; Luther McVicker, chief observer; and Harry Teckman, assistant chief observer."


PHOTO CAPTION: "Maj. A. W. Masterson, USAF, third from right, is pictured congratulating Butler County Commissioner Arthur Reiff on the simultaneous construction of five observation posts for the Butler County Ground Observer Corps during ceremonies Wednesday night at Darrtown. Maj. Masterson is the Ohio GOC Coordinator. Those shown in the photograph , left to right, include: Kirk Mee, Darrtown post supervisor; Larry Hoyser, Butler County Civil Defense director; Ben S. VanGorden, Butler County Commissioner; Mr. Reiff; Maj. Masterson; Capt. Gene V. Kee, commander of the Columbus GOC Filter Center; and James Logan, director of training and education, Ohio Civil Defense."

Photo of Watch Tower Located!

The image at the right shows the Darrtown Observation Post (known locally as the Darrtown "watch tower").

 

From the cars seen in the background, it is likely that this photo was taken in the late 1950's.

 

Marvin Russell contributed this picture in early August, 2012.

 

A big "THANK YOU" is extended to Marvin for sharing this image.


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