Friday, May 24, 2013

Othello Radar Station

The Othello Radar Station was established in 1952.  This would have been shortly  before my family move there.  Wikipedia explains the reason for the station.  "Othello Air Force Station was one of twenty-eight stations built as part of the second segment of the Air Defense Command permanent radar network. Prompted by the start of the Korean War, on July 11, 1950, the Secretary of the Air Force asked the Secretary of Defense for approval to expedite construction of the permanent network."  I found this quote from the Othello Outlook 2012, "Sixty years ago July 25, 1952: Othello was able this week to take her place at the head of the list, as far as public spirit is concerned, as “Operation Skywatch” was put into action and the first week of observation completed without missing a single shift.  Long-range bombers have shrunk the world to the point that any place on earth is susceptible to an attack.  The air observers’ part is to locate low-flying aircraft that might be hostile.  Though the local post is manned on a 24-hour basis and is considered 100 percent staffed, another 10 volunteers are needed to place a double watch on at all times."  Operation Skywatch was a program to keep watch on the skies.  The radar company did this through the use of several different radar  as well as watching the sky, and using volunteers.  At the ten year mark, there was a presentation to the community, also reported in the Outlook:
Feb 8, 1962 p 8 The film “Operation Skywatch” sponsored jointly by the Pacific Northwest Bell Telephone Company and the 637th AC&W Radar Airbase played to a capacity house last Tuesday night. 
   The evening go off to a nice start when Robert Hill introduced Major McElroy who after welcoming the audience expressed his appreciation that the 637th was the site chosen for the Operation Skywatch.  After his brief speech, the Major introduced Ed Williams of Pacific Northwest Bell who demonstrated microwave, satellite transistors, solar cells, and radio waves to a highly appreciative audience.
   Col. Klem F. Kalberer acted in behalf of Col. Atkinson, both of Larson Air Base.  Col. Atkinson was unable to attend because of the illness of his wife.  Col. Kalberer accepted presentation of the film on the behalf of the Air force.  A call was placed to the Air Defense Headquarters in Colorado Springs and a picture of what planes were in the air within a certain range at the time the phone call was made was projected to the audience, over the loud speaker.
   Major MeElroy presented a copy of the film to Major Med Faudree for the city of Othello.
   The local Parent-Teacher Association, headed by Mrs. Howard Beitz and Mrs. Roger Hardan, served coffee and cookies to the more than 1,000 people who attended Operation Skywatch and stayed to enjoy the evening’s entertainment even if there was standing room only.

I think it is unusual that a community of 2000, would have over half the community at an event like this.

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