May 21, 2014

Here a ham, there a ham, everywhere a ham at the Dayton, Ohio, Hamvention. But this isn’t about a hog farm or bacon. It’s about the more than 25,000 amateur radio enthusiasts from around the country and the world who attended the two-and-a-half day gathering May 16-18.

This year, The American Legion Amateur Radio Club (TALARC) was there.

“This is the first time we have exhibited at the Hamvention,” said Marty Justis, president of TALARC. “Having a booth at this event gave The American Legion exposure in letting folks know that the Legion is a veterans service organization, and can be a community service organization through the use of radio communications.”

“As expected, many visitors to our booth were surprised that the Legion was part of amateur radio, and even many Legionnaires didn’t know that The American Legion had an amateur radio club. With us having a presence at the event we managed to sign 10 veterans to the Legion, and over 100 card-carrying Legion members joined TALARC on the spot. That makes The American Legion Amateur Radio Club one of the largest radio clubs in the country, with about 2,000 members,” Justis added.

Most ham operators will tell you that amateur radio is in their blood and they are very passionate about the hobby. For others, it’s a chance to do something for the community. And for many who learned radio communication skills in the military, this is chance to stay up-to-date with those skills while learning new ones and having fun at the same time. In terms of public service, ham radio operators are the people who assist government officials during weather disasters and other emergencies. They provide communications when all other communication capabilities are shut down.

The American Legion Amateur Radio Club was established by Resolution 11 in 2011, and supports the Legion’s affiliation with the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to assist communities as a resource in planning for, and assisting during and following, disasters.

But there is more to it than helping communities and talking to people around the world on a radio. It’s about being able to control that communication with radio transmission equipment and antennas. There’s just something about using radio waves to communicate to others around the world. Unlike cellphones and the Internet, the operator has complete autonomy over the power and frequencies he or she uses to talk to others.

TALARC has been on the air with special event stations, including Veterans Day and The American Legion’s birthday each March, using the club station call sign K9TAL – the last three letters of which stand for "The American Legion."

The American Legion Amateur Radio Club conducts radio nets every month. To find out more about checking into the nets or to get more information about joining TALARC, go to the club website at

Mike Anthony, whose amateur radio call sign is W9MNA, is secretary of TALARC and an audiovisual specialist for The American Legion.