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A Century of Amateur Radio and the ARRL:

from The ARRL Letter on February 6, 2014
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A Century of Amateur Radio and the ARRL:

The "European War" began on July 28, 1914, and the United States entered the renamed "World War" on April 5, 1917. The three American military services -- the Navy, the Army, and the Army Air Service -- quickly realized how ill prepared they were in the area of communication, having neither enough operators nor enough equipment to wage a modern war.

The Navy soon called on President H. P. Maxim and the ARRL for help. At that time, the ARRL boasted some 6000 hams, who were experienced radio builders, repairmen, and highly trained operators -- some with as many as 15 years of experience. The Navy asked Maxim to help it find 500 operators immediately, which was accomplished! Later, the Navy issued a second call, this time for 2000 more volunteer radio operators; again, that requirement was quickly met. Another 1000 hams went into Navy service later in the war. The Army and the Army Air Service raised comparable numbers of operators from among the ranks of American radio amateurs.

When these hams provided their services to the military, their station equipment often went with them. The military branches were as equipment poor as they were operator poor.

The amateurs who went into the various branches of the military did fine work. The quality of American communication links often made a great difference in the outcome of battles. The performance of American hams garnered accolades from many people, including Commendattore Guglielmo Marconi, the chief signaling officer of the Italian Army.

Soon after the war ended on November 11, 1918, the US Secretary of Commerce said, "The officers in charge of the wireless operations of our armies in France commend highly the skill, ingenuity and versatility of the licensed amateur radio operators who volunteered in large numbers for military service and served in dangerous and responsible positions."

However, things quickly took a turn for the worse for the amateur radio community. We'll look at that unexpected and dangerous development next week. -- Al Brogdon, W1AB


The ARRL Letter

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