Legion club to host on-air tribute to veterans

Federally licensed radio operators who are Legionnaires will honor military service and their fellow veterans in a special on-air tribute on Veterans Day, Nov. 11.

Members of The American Legion Amateur Radio Club (TALARC) will operate on short-wave radio from 9 a.m. through 4 p.m., using the Federal Communications Commission specially-issued radio call sign – W9L – from National Headquarters in Indianapolis. Any ham radio operators (and shortwave listeners) who contact the station are eligible to receive an attractive commemorative certificate.

“Veterans Day is more than just a holiday,” said Marty Justis (call sign W9WMJ), president of TALARC. “It’s a time for all Americans to recognize the honorable nature of military service and the men and women who have sacrificed so much in defending our nation through the years.

“This special event operation serves to underscore the importance of Veterans Day via the amateur radio community, to salute the men and women who have served our country honorably in uniform, and to recognize the contributions of so many military personnel who served as radio technicians, engineers and members of MARS (Military Affiliate Radio System), who passed messages from war zones, at sea and other overseas locations, to loved ones back home.”

During the Korean and Vietnam wars, MARS members and radio amateurs back home set up radio conversations between military personnel serving overseas, and their family and friends back in the United States in those pre-Internet and pre-email days. Without MARS and amateur radio operators here at home, hearing the voice of a loved one would have been impossible.

“It truly meant a lot to us,” Justis said.

Many Americans who received calls from a family member back then may remember having to constantly say “over” when they stopped talking on the phone with the relaying ham radio station. That was necessary to let the relay operator know to switch his transmitter off and his receiver on in order to hear the overseas serviceperson’s voice.

“While the Internet has changed much of that, amateur radio today still assists communities in many ways, primarily serving as the quickest and most effective means of communications ‘when all else fails,’” Justis said. “Many of The American Legion Amateur Radio Club's 2,000 members are committed to emergency preparedness, as well as promoting the hobby, art and science of amateur radio to young and old alike.”

Today, there are nearly 725,000 federally licensed amateur radio operators in the United States, adding to the worldwide total of 2.6 million. Any ham radio operator from around the world may contact the TALARC headquarters station and receive the special certificate.

Free membership in The American Legion Amateur Radio Club is available to all FCC-licensed amateur radio operators who are Legionnaires, members of the Auxiliary or the Sons of The American Legion. Individuals can find out more about TALARC at www.legion.org/hamradio. Click on the “Join TALARC" button to become a member, or click on the many resource tabs to find out how to obtain an amateur radio license.

Ham radio operators wishing to contact Special Event Station W9L on Veterans Day should tune to 20 meters – 14.275 MHz USB, +/- 5 KHz, IRLP Node 4816, or in Central Indiana on 146.46 MHz simplex or the 145.17 MHz repeater in Hamilton County. After working W9L, send a 9X12-inch self-addressed stamped envelope to The American Legion Amateur Radio Club, 700 N. Pennsylvania St., Indianapolis, IN 46204.

“You don’t need to be a licensed radio operator with a transmitter to participate,” Justis said. “Anyone who has a short-wave radio is welcome to listen in, send us a short signal report with the call signs of at least two contacts you heard, and send in your certificate request. It’s a great way to find out more about amateur radio and The American Legion Amateur Radio Club, and to recognize our service men and women on Veterans Day.”