Legion radio hits the air waves

Nearly 500 members have joined the nascent American Legion Amateur Radio Club (TALARC) since its establishment by the Legion’s National Executive Committee in May 2011. Amateur radio operators — traditionally called "hams" — have signed on from coast to coast.

Based at National Headquarters in Indianapolis, the club station call sign is K9TAL, reflecting "The American Legion." Established for the promotion of interest in amateur radio communication, experimentation and education, as well as participation in emergency communications in the event of disasters or other emergencies, members are encouraged to get involved at their posts as well as to participate in national Legion radio networks.

In January 2005, the Legion signed an agreement with the Department of Homeland Security to support emergency disaster preparedness. Subsequently, the Disaster Preparedness Booklet was made available to posts. Amateur-radio support was an integral entity.

There are more than 700,000 federally licensed amateur radio operators, or "hams," in the United States, who today are engaged in a hobby that can also provide emergency communications when all else fails.

"Floods, earthquakes, hurricanes and major storms can cripple or shut down traditional communication avenues such as landline phones, cell phones, radio and television," said Robert Morrill, chairman of the National Public Relations Commission. "Amateur radio operators have the capability to quickly fill in communications gaps. It is widely known that ‘hams’ played an important part in facilitating communications following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in Washington, D.C., and in New York."

From time to time, TALARC plans to conduct "Special Event" station operations. One such event will be the celebration of The American Legion’s 93rd birthday, which will be conducted March 15-17 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (EDT) daily. In addition to celebrating the 1919 Paris birth of the Legion, the three-day event will provide an opportunity to licensed hams to ask questions about TALARC and receive a special commemorative certificate for contacting the headquarters station.

Frequencies for the event will be 14.27 MHz, 146.46 MHz Simplex and IRLP Node 4816.

Over the years, countless members of the U.S. military were trained as technicians or engineers, and later obtained amateur-radio licenses to continue to use their abilities at home, both recreationally and as a public service.

"The beauty of amateur radio is that it attracts folks of all career interests, from physicians, Ph.D.s, and engineers to mechanics, housewives, construction and office workers, students and everything in between," said Joe March, director of the Legion’s Public Relations Division. "The potential to serve here is limitless. Legionnaires who are hams can help others get licensed, coordinate with local emergency authorities, and provide a whole array of other support."

Membership is free to members of The American Legion family who hold FCC amateur radio licenses. For more information, visit the TALARC web page at www.legion.org/hamradio.

Legionnaires interested in establishing an amateur-radio communications station at their post can contact k9tal@legion.org for details.