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April 2001


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Phil Lord <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
A LISTSERV list for discussions pertaining to New York State history." <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 3 Apr 2001 07:43:28 -0400
text/plain (33 lines)
A couple years ago someone wrote to this list asking about the Ground Observer Corps, and I responded with my own recollections of being a student volunteer myself in the 1950s, watching for Russian bombers from a little observation post in Otsego County.

I later put that story on my personal website, and people with similar experiences sometimes contact me and share their own recollections.

I recently got the following message from an ex-New Yorker living in Texas, and thought I would share it with you. Some of you may find his tale interesting, and perhaps someone can help him in his search:

Phil Lord


"During the early 50's I became involved with the GOC in Erie County. Our post/observation platform was on top of one of the turrets of the Armory on Delaware Avenue in Tonawanda, N.Y.  I was impressed with your net page
on the GOC, and it was useful in explaining to my family just what it was we did.  Thanks for taking the time to document your activities.

"I have been searching through 60 years of my "stuff" trying to locate my GOC Wings. I last remember having them about 20 years ago when I had a jewelry box. Since I quit wearing cuff links and tie bars, the 'ol jewelry box fell into disuse and was relegated to further and further back in my closet.
Now I want  to show these wings to my grandkids and I can't find them!

"In 1951 I contracted rheumatic fever and was bedridden for about 6 months. That is a long time for a kid. My Dad bought us encyclopedias in about 1947. I had nothing to do for this 6 months but read. I read and read and became somewhat of a prodigy on the war, geopolitical systems and aviation.  I recall hearing Public Service Announcements during the day on my Crosly radio, between "Life with Luigi" and "The Great Gildersleeve", asking for volunteers for the GOC.

"I thought this was a real National Service opportunity and obligation.Since no age limitations were ever specified I knew this was my chance to do something for my Country. When I was allowed up in July of 1952, I promptly contacted the Civilian Defense organization and volunteered. At that time I was 12 with a great deal of pent up energy. I can't recall the number of hours required  to earn my wings, but I do recall haunting the GOC post. Because of the small area on that roof, only one person could effectively man the post at any given time.

"I do recall getting my wings in 1952. The Tonawanda Evening News did an article on me at the awards ceremony. I was the youngest person in the area to have earned my wings. At that time that event constituted "news". I
Ended up being a "poster boy" for the Erie County Civilian Defense recruitment activities. I  thought this was an appropriate thing to be doing, following my fathers activities as a Warden a few years earlier.

"If the newspaper article was ever "scrap booked" by anyone in my family,  I don't know of it. I know that if I am ever in the area and have the time, I could look it up in the microfilm archives at the library or at the newspaper offices. I do not have any contacts in the area and it is doubtful that I will ever be in the area to do the job myself. Do you know if there are any organizational entities where the GOC records are maintained? Surely there is some bureaucratic organization that maintains the old records.

"I would like to thank you for taking the time to document your activities.  Your net page is a national treasure."

Ken Mountain
2454 FM 2194
Greenville, Texas  75401
(903) 454-6736
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