Colonel E. Lester Jones, Superintendent of the Coast
and Geodetic Survey
and "father of the Commissioned Corps"
During the years before the First World War, all C&GS work was conducted by civilians
even though shipboard personnel wore uniforms that were virtually indistinguishable from
Naval uniforms. With the entry of the United States into the war in 1917, the
commissioned service of the C&GS was formed in order to eliminate the anomalous
condition that arose during the Civil War, which placed civilian assistants accompanying
armed forces in jeopardy of being considered spies if captured by the enemy. Also, by
forming a uniformed commissioned service that could be rapidly transferred into the
Armed Forces, the rapid assimilation of C&GS technical skills for defense purposes was
Still today, if a national emergency occurs, the NOAA Corps could be assimilated rapidly
into the armed services by order of the President. Over half the commissioned officers of
the C&GS served with the Army, Navy, or Marine Corps during WWI. They served as artillery
orienteering officers, mine-laying officers in the North Sea, troop transport navigators,
intelligence officers, and even on the staff to General "Black Jack" Pershing.
Colonel E. Lester Jones, then Superintendent of the Coast and Geodetic Survey and "father
of the Commissioned Corps," returned to the United States and was a founder and first
President of the Pioneer Post of the American Legion.