DEFENSE: Vigil's End

For nine years, on rooftops, balconies, towers and mountaintops, manning more than 16,000 observation posts scattered around the U.S., civilian volunteers of the U.S. Air Force's Ground Observer Corps have spent millions of lonely hours, day and night, scanning the skies for enemy aircraft. Last week the Air Force told its 280,000 unpaid watchers, already moved back to a ready-reserve status, that on Jan. 31 the G.O.C.'s dedicated vigil will end completely. The Defense Department's radar and electronic-brain warning systems, said Air Force Secretary James H. Douglas, are now so effective that the G.O.C. is no longer needed. Besides,...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!