Sunbury Ground Observer Corps

Don Bryant in the Ground Observer Corp Station behind the present Harrison Street Elementary School

Suzanne Allen will tell about the Ground Observer Corps (GOC) at the Big Walnut Area Historical Society monthly meeting and program at 7:30 Tuesday evening November 14 in the Myers Inn Meeting Room. The program is free to everyone.

During World War II, there were 1.5 million civilian observers at 14,000 coastal observation posts to search for German and Japanese aircraft. That program ended in 1944.

During the Korean War in 1950, Continental Air Commander Ennis Whithead proposed formation of a 160,000 civilian volunteer GOC to operate 8,000 observation posts scattered in gaps between the radar network sites. By 1951 there were 210,000 GOC volunteers manning the 8,000 posts but when the were tested on quickness of getting the sighting info to the twenty six filter centers they were found wanting. They revised the plan again and called it Operation Skywatch in 1952.

By the late 1950s, radar had been perfected and the program was no longer needed.

While Allen was collecting data for her memory books, some of the people recalled the original program. When she compiled the second book, Don Bryant gave her many names and information to include in her book. She contacted these people and put their stories in "More About Our Past in the Big Walnut Community.

Allen, a Big Walnut School Middle School teacher spent most of her childhood in the community. Just before her mother, Maxine Link, died she gave Suzanne a blank family history and asked her to do the family genealogy like she did the pedigrees on her horses.

A few years later, after thinking about her Momís wish, she joined Polly Hornís Community Library class for writing family histories in book form. For almost ten years she worked on writing her first book on my Dadís family, the Link family. "I asked family members many questions at various family gatherings and learned so much history from family members that I hadnít heard before," noted Allen.

Following retirement Suzanne has written three family histories, a history of Sunbury Halter & Saddle 4-H Club, two books of memories of Big Walnut residents,  a Kingston Township Bicentennial Memory book, a book on local early railroads, helped with BWAHS Bicentennial cookbook, 4-H Club cookbook, and a Buffalo Bill Re-enactors cookbook. She also wrote the script for the Buffalo Bill Re-enactments performed by 4-H alumni, horse loving persons, local historical re-enactors, and friends in five different local Bicentennial celebrations in Sunbury and Mt. Vernon. Ideas for the script came from a 1901 autobiography of William Cody (Buffalo Bill).

Allen is a charter member of 65 year old Sunbury Halter and Saddle 4-H Club and has been a leader for 50 years. She is active in the Delaware County Genealogical Society and has proven 29 ancestors as Pioneers. She assists other looking for their ancestors. She is also a member, a docent and active volunteer in Big Walnut Area Historical Society.

Return to Homepage
Return to Local History Index