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World War II - Omaha Citizens' Defense Corps

In the summer of 1943 the United States was in the midst of World War II. The Sunday World-Herald Magazine on July 4 of that year in a special "Nebraska at War" edition reported the state's contribution to the war effort. The publication included an article by Lawrence W. Youngman, a World-Herald war correspondent, on civil defense activities on the Omaha home front. According to Youngman:

"In the first 19 months of the war, Omaha has built up her own civilian army, a defensive army known as the Omaha Citizens Defense corps. Intended primarily to combat action taken by the enemy, or enemy agents, this army has already proven that it can act quickly and efficiently in the face of other emergencies. Its greatest test came during the recent flood.

"The Omaha Citizens Defense corps, commanded by J. E. Davidson, numbers 8,877 trained volunteers. Linked with it--and also under direction of Omaha Civilian Defense council--is the Citizens Service corps with a membership of 15,200. The home defense picture is completed by the auxiliary utility unit, which is made up of utility repairmen, and an auxiliary police group made up of non-uniformed members of the police department, federal bureau of investigation and sheriff's office.

"To date the citizens defense corps has conducted two successful test blackouts, and an equally successful practice daylight raid. Another test raid is contemplated during the latter part of this month.

"Commander Davidson is proud of the fact that the entire 8,877 members of the defense corps can be mobilized on an hour's notice. . . . This fall the organization is to be strengthened by the recruiting and training of some seven thousand fire watchers, and the leaders also expect to compile a roster of seven hundred nurses. Here is how the defense corps members are divided: Air raid wardens, 3,262; utility repairmen, 2,504; auxiliary police, 702; messengers, 315; auxiliary firemen, 257; auxiliary rescue squads, 90; registered nurses, 82; first aiders, three hundred; chaplains, 168; air raid warden instructors, 32; control center and staff, 72; incident officers, 5; decontamination squad leaders, 22; gas reconnaissance agents, 7."

(July 2001)



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