Hams - The Forgotten Heroes

Hams - The Forgotten Heroes

by Marti Talbott

(c) 2001

On Good Friday, March 27, l964 approximately 12,000 square miles of the Alaskan seafloor shifted, causing one of the worst earthquakes in US history. When the shock waves subsided and the massive tsunami receded, loss of life and injuries were compounded by yet another tragedy -- a total communications blackout.

Then at last, a lone Ham Radio Operator managed to send a message -- a cry for help that would be repeated by other Hams and sent all over the world.

6 November 1996 - A fierce lightning storm strikes a rural area on the Oregon/California border, miles from backup support, and rural residents use ham radio to alert each other...

27 August 1998 - Flooding in Texas and Hurricane Bonnie on the eastern seaboard of the US has created communications emergencies...

27 January 1998 - Canadian Ham Radio Operators Respond to Ice Storm... Over 700 hams were operating at one time or another...

24 December 1999 - US Coast Guard Requests Amateur Radio Assistance...

21 September 1999 - Hurricane Floyd; Quake in Taiwan Disrupt Communications...

So what happened to Ham (Amateur) Radio Operators and why don't we hear about them anymore? Believe it or not, they still live among us and they're still responding to cries for help, up to and including the Washington State Fires of 2001.

The world wrongly assumes that with the Internet and cell phones, we no longer need Hams, but disasters cut electricity and cell phones need working towers every three miles. Yet Internet search engines list Amateur Radio sites under "hobbies," a classification totally unwarranted and highly resented.

Hams are a lot more than high school kids fiddling with radios, they're a network of highly trained people, men and woman of all ages who are willing to drop whatever they're doing to look for a lost child or aid overworked emergency personnel. Like an old-fashioned fire brigade, they pass the information bucket from one to another warning of severe weather conditions, hazardous spills, railroad disasters and much, much more.

Ham Radio Operators are indeed forgotten heroes, but they shouldn't be. And God help us if they ever cease to exist.

About the author

Marti Talbott is the author of "A Shattered City - Earthquake in Seattle" For more information visit http://www.carsonbooks.com


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