JROTC Students On the Air with MARS:
Bill Sexton (N1IN)
April 9, 2013
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Trial Run: Junior ROTC
on the Air with MARS
Ariz.—Exploring a new source for future Army MARS leaders, two headquarters
staffers carried portable gear to nearby Buena High School Monday (8 April) and
treated students enrolled in the Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps to
hands-on emergency communications training.
Army MARS Chief Stephen Klinefelter
characterized the event as a trial run for a program offering MARS-type
training at JROTC units nationwide. It would include licensing military unit
stations to be operated with locally-contributed VHF and HF equipment. JROTC programs are military units within the
Army Training and Doctrine Command, so amateur licenses would not be required
for qualifying students while operating on military frequencies.
The 22 ROTC cadets who had expressed interest
in radio took part in an actual Arizona MARS network after classroom training
with National Operations Officer David McGinnis and Mr. Eddie Collins from the
Network Enterprise Technology Command. Retired Command Sergeant Major Monty
McDaniel, the lead instructor for JROTC at Buena HS, coordinated the
“The cadets were particularly excited they would participate in exercises
and events on a military radio network,” MARS officer McGinnis said. “They
were also impressed seeing communications over distances of 250 miles can be
achieved with simple battery powered sets without the need for infrastructure.”
Buena JROTC was presented with an Army MARS military unit authorization to operate
in MARS. McGinnis said a course of instruction was devised to accomplish
two objectives: To prepare the JROTC to utilize MARS in support of
an upcoming orienteering meet, and to familiarize the JROTC cadets with
Army MARS contingency communications HF radio network. For most
cadets it was their
introduction to HF radio.
The Cochise Amateur Radio Association is part of the Buena JROTC plan, to
provide training and VEC services to the cadets. Although the ham license
isn’t required to operate the military unit station, having cadets obtain an
Amateur Radio license is one of the program goals.
The course included hand held VHF radios which were used in the class room to
practice basic voice procedures. The radios utilized a half duplex frequency
scheme for the "directed net procedures" part of the instruction so that
cadets could not hear each other but only the Net Control Station.
Following the class room
instruction, the cadets adjourned outside for hands-on HF operations.
Under instruction from Mr. Collins, cadets erected the AS-2259
antenna and attached it to a PRC-104B transceiver. Elsewhere, Arizona
Army MARS members were standing by.
Arizona Army MARS member Brian Handy was the
net control station, and directed Arizona Army MARS stations in turn to
call the JROTC unit and provide their distance from the JROTC location.
On each call, a different cadet operated the PRC-104B radio set.
Stations up to 250 miles away gave the JROTC cadets favorable signal
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