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History Talk on Renaissance Man Albert J. Myer

Albert Myer was an inventor, a reinventor, a medical doctor, and a US Army general during the Civil War. He was the sole survivor of six children; so, it may seem that destiny played a part in his productive life. The Historical Society, together with Orange County Community College, arranged for historian Bob Gilbert to bring his presentation about the ingenious Newburgh-born General Myer to SUNY Newburgh’s Kaplan Hall on April 11, 2016. The lecture was entitled “Renaissance Man: General Albert Myer, Founder of the International Weather Service and the U.S. Signal Corps.”

In addition to his illustrated talk, Gilbert brought signal flags and a weather map from 1872 signed by Myer.

Albert Myer went to USMA at West Point and knew Jefferson Davis. Myer realized the importance of a signal system and went about inventing one, and wrote to him about the invention. In fact, he demonstrated the signal system to Army officers led by Lt. Colonel Robert E. Lee. Then, when Davis and Lee turned Confederate, and in fact Myer’s best student was from Georgia, he realized secrecy had been lost. This necessitated Myer’s having to reinvent the code.

Out of this came a regional, then national and international weather service. Battles have been won or lost because of weather. Myer realized this and he actually made Storm flags, a hurricane flag, a blizzard flag. He shared his knowledge in Europe and was well-respected to the extent that he was elected to three honorary memberships in foreign scientific societies.

Photo provided.

Photo provided.

Bob Gilbert holds a B.A. in History, cum laude, from the University of Maryland. He served in the U.S. Air Force from 1982 to 1986 as a Morse and Non-Morse Communications Operator. He went on to be a U.S. Army Russian language translator from 1988 to 1992. Then, he became a Maryland Air National Guardsman Weather Technician from 1994 to 1998 and worked for the National Weather Service from 1998 to 1999. From 2005 to 2013, he worked for the Federal Aviation Administration Contractors at Rochester International Airport as a Weather Observer. Since moving to Virginia, he now can devote his time to military history and specifically to finishing his book on Albert Myer.

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