Ham Radio Operators Stay Tuned In
by Jane Courtney
Special to The Sonoma Valley Sun
Read by: MARTHA KJ4RIQ
Whether it’s ravaging floods, raging fire or a devastating earthquake, vital information will be passed along to emergency personnel and the public when amateur radio operators power up their communication system.
In Sonoma Valley, there is a group of dedicated volunteers at the ready. Within three hours of an emergency, they are trained to find a radio signal and start transmitting news of rescue operations, evacuations, damaged roadways, and status of food, water and medical supplies, among other information.
The Valley of the Moon Amateur Radio Club (VOMARC) has about 50 local members, all licensed by the Federal Communications Commission to operate high, ultra high and very high frequency radios (including Morse code) to assist in disasters.
“The idea of emergency preparedness is that in a disaster, ham radio operators would be your communication,” Jones said. The more prepared they are, he said, the better the chances of providing life-saving information.
Members stay sharp by taking part in field-day drills, like the one held recently in Eldridge on a hilly location known as Camp Via.
The 12 local men were there to compete in an event known as an emergency communications exercise. It was a contest among amateur radio operators throughout the United States and Canada to see which club could make the most contacts in a 24-hour period.
Read by: RANDY KJ4TFU
“This is the amateur radio stations’ event of the year. It’s where we get to go out and play,” said Craig McCormick, club member.
‘Play’ started with hard work as members set up a 30-foot portable tower for their antenna. The guy wires had to be secured so the wind didn’t knock the tower down, and one participant, Darrel Jones, fired a line for an antenna over trees towering as high as 100 feet using a hand-made compressed air launcher.
Club members all had their individual tasks and completed them by the 11 a.m. start of the contest. For the next 24 hours, at their four stations, the men took turns making radio contacts with stations all over the country and in Canada. Each contact was logged in a computer for verification.
By 11 a.m. Sunday morning, the club had made 911 contacts that Jones said, “…covered all but three sections of the U.S. and Canada. This was the highest score VOMARC has achieved.”
The field-day drill isn’t the only practice the club gets. Monthly, members provide demonstrations at Skypark Airport on Eighth Street East on the second Sunday when airplane pilots give free rides for youngsters.
Club members stay in touch with each other at their monthly meetings and by newsletters. Also, in the spring the club sets up operations at the Veterans Memorial Building on First Street West for their annual Hamfest, a public demonstration of their ham radio operation. For more information about VOMARC contact Eileen@vom.com.
QRZ.com License Update and Renewal Service
Read by: JERRY KE4ETY
QRZ, in association with the W5YI-VEC, now offers FCC authorized online license update and renewal services for USA Amateurs. These services include:
- Corrections or Change of Address: make spelling and/or mailing address corrections to your existing license. You will receive an updated certificate.
- License Renewals: renew your license when it is within 90 days of expiring, or make a reinstatement if it has expired within the last 2 years. Changes of address and/or corrections can be made at the same time.
- Replacement Certificates: get a new copy of a lost or misplaced certificate. Changes and/or corrections are also allowed.
- Non-US Residents: We now accept renewals of USA licenses that are held by non-USA residents. These are also known as reciprocal operating permits.
- Club Stations: We are now able to update information for club stations. For more info please call the W5YI-VEC number listed below.
Read by: NICKI KF4DHK
How Long Does It Take?
Usually within 48 hours (longer on weekends). Our input forms go directly to the W5YI-VEC where your info is reviewed by their staff and then keyed directly into the FCC’s computer system. Your updates become effective immediately upon their appearance on the official websites. You will receive a new certificate in the mail from the FCC in two to six weeks. While in the US it is not necessary to have a certificate in your posession so long as the information is available online.
How much does it cost?
The W5YI-VEC/QRZ online update service costs just $8 and major credit cards are accepted online. The fee includes all taxes and postage. Your new or updated certificate will be mailed directly to you from the FCC.
Need to contact the W5YI-VEC by Phone?
Call the W5YI-VEC on their toll free number at: 1-800 669-9594
Admiral Nimitz: Three Mistakes Japan Made At Pearl Harbor
Read by: ED KE4JWS
Tour boats ferry people out to the USS Arizona Memorial in Hawaii every thirty minutes. We just missed a ferry and had to wait thirty minutes. I went into a small gift shop to kill time. In the gift shop, I purchased a small book entitled, “Reflections on Pearl Harbor” by Admiral Chester Nimitz.
Sunday, December 7th, 1941–Admiral Chester Nimitz was attending a concert in Washington D.C. He was paged and told there was a phone call for him. When he answered the phone, it was President Franklin Delano Roosevelt on the phone. He told Admiral Nimitz that he (Nimitz) would now be the Commander of the Pacific Fleet. Admiral Nimitz flew to Hawaii to assume command of the Pacific Fleet. He landed at Pearl Harbor on Christmas Eve, 1941. There was such a spirit of despair, dejection and defeat–you would have thought the Japanese had already won the war.
On Christmas Day, 1941, Adm. Nimitz was given a boat tour of the destruction wrought on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese. Big sunken battleships and navy vessels cluttered the waters every where you looked. As the tour boat returned to dock, the young helmsman of the boat asked, “Well Admiral, what do you think after seeing all this destruction?” Admiral Nimitz’s reply shocked everyone within the sound of his voice. Admiral Nimitz said, “The Japanese made three of the biggest mistakes an attack force could ever make or God was taking care of America. Which do you think it was?” Shocked and surprised, the young helmsman asked, “What do mean by saying the Japanese made the three biggest mistakes an attack force ever made?”
Read by: LARRY KC4ZOA
Mistake number one: the Japanese attacked on Sunday morning. Nine out of every ten crewmen of those ships were ashore on leave. If those same ships had been lured to sea and been sunk–we would have lost 38,000 men instead of 3,800.
Mistake number two: when the Japanese saw all those battleships lined in a row, they got so carried away sinking those battleships, they never once bombed our dry docks opposite those ships. If they had destroyed our dry docks, we would have had to tow everyone of those ships to America to be repaired. As it is now, the ships are in shallow water and can be raised. One tug can pull them over to the dry docks, and we can have them repaired and at sea by the time we could have towed them to America. And I already have crews ashore anxious to man those ships.
Mistake number three: every drop of fuel in the Pacific theater of war is in top of the ground storage tanks five miles away over that hill. One attack plane could have strafed those tanks and destroyed our fuel supply. That’s why I say the Japanese made three of the biggest mistakes an attack force could make or God was taking care of America.
I’ve never forgotten what I read in that little book. It is still an inspiration as I reflect upon it. In jest, I might suggest that because Admiral Nimitz was a Texan, born and raised in Fredricksburg, Texas–he was a born optimist. But anyway you look at it–Admiral Nimitz was able to see a silver lining in a situation and circumstance where everyone else saw only despair and defeatism. President Roosevelt had chosen the right man for the right job.
We desperately needed a leader that could see silver linings in the midst of the clouds of dejection, despair and defeat.
There is a reason that our national motto is, IN GOD WE TRUST.