In May 1916, General Squier was recalled by President Wilson with the purpose of correcting problems at the Aviation Section of the Signal Corp. The Aviation Section was plagued with multiple serious problems. Pilots were dying due to inadequate training and unsafe aircraft. There was insubordination in the ranks and insufficient funding from Congress.
The second newspaper article details General Squier’s purchase of the property that would become the General Squier Historic Park Complex. Just after coming back from Europe, He purchased 240-acres surrounding a three-story mill on South Mill Road in his home town of Dryden, Michigan. The mill had been constructed in 1871.
He immediately began extensive improvement to the property. His first repair was to the embankment which recreated the mill pond. This created an area for swimming in the summer and skating in the winter.
He intended to only make minor alterations to the mill. The upper floor was to be used for dances or roller skating. The second floor was to have stoves and tables installed so it could be used for parties. He also intended to create hiking trails throughout the wooded areas.
He intended to tear down the house on the site and erect a bungalow – Forest Hall. He transformed this property into what became known as the Dryden Community Country Club. He described it as a free “country club for country people.” He periodically lived on this property but also spent time in his homes in New York and Florida.
Today, 94-acres of this property are in one of the two public parks in Lapeer County. It is known as the General Squier Historic Park Complex. It has a large clubhouse, nature trails, and a water park in the summer and sledding hill in the winter.
Upon assuming his new duties, he so successfully completed correcting the problems with the Aviation Section that he was promoted to Brigadier General and appointed Chief Signal Officer for the U. S. Army in February 1917.
In 1917, General Squier established the Aviation Research Laboratory at Langley Field (the oldest air field in the United States). It was the site of the majority of the advancements in aviation for over 80 years.
Also in 1917, General Squier established the Radio Research Laboratory at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey. Like Langley Field, the facility at Fort Monmouth contributed to the development of advanced communication methods and technologies. The laboratory building was named “Squier Laboratory” in the general’s honor.
General Squier can be credited with the Army’s institutionalization of scientific research and development for military purposes.
On October 6, 1917 he was promoted to major general.
In 1918, General Squier turned control of the Air Service over to a subordinate so he could concentrate on his duties as Chief Signal Officer of the Army.
During the last years of his career because of his international notoriety and expertise, he attended a number of international conferences on communications and arms control.
At his own request, he retired on December 31, 1923.
In the early 1920’s, General Squier was granted several patents for transmission of information signals. One of the patents was for a system for the transmission and distribution of signals over electrical lines. It was to deliver music to listeners without the use of radio. Radios of that time were expensive and produced a fuzzy listening experience. General Squier sold the rights to these patents to the North American Company (NAC), a utility conglomerate. NAC created a company, Wired Radio, Inc. to deliver music subscriptions to customers of the utility company’s power service. After the sale, General Squier remained involved with the company. He formulated the word “Muzak” by combining the “mus” symbol from music with the “ak” from the made-up word, “Kodak.” “Muzak” is more commonly known as elevator music.
By the time the development of a functioning Muzak system was completed, commercial radio was well established, so NAC focused its effort to delivering music to hotels and restaurants. The first delivery of a Muzak system occurred in New York City in 1936.
Major General George Owen Squier died of pneumonia on March 24, 1934 in Washington, D. C., just three days after his 69th birthday. He was laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia. During his lifetime he was world famous. During his military service, he was a key person in the development of radio communication for national defense and the development of the airplane for military operations. His inventions laid the groundwork for our modern telecommunication systems including both the telephone system and the Internet. Once out of the service, as a businessman, he formed a famous radio broadcasting company and coined the term “Muzak.”
After his death, a class of troop transport ships was named in his honor: the first was A. P. 130 General G. O. Squier. He received numerous decorations including Knight Commander, St. Michael and St. George, Great Britain; Commander, Order of the Crown, Italy; Commander, Legion of Honor, France; Elliot Cresson gold medal; Franklin medal; John Scott medal; Philippine Insurrection; and Spanish American War.
General Squier may receive one last honor. Members of his hometown, Dryden, are attempting to raise funds to erect a life-size statue of him to be erected in the Memorial Park located on Dryden Road, just as you enter the town from the east.
Copies of the Almont Historical Society’s various books can be purchased by contacting Jim Wade at 810-796-3355 or firstname.lastname@example.org or stopping by the museum on Saturdays from 1-4 p.m.