I earned my license in 1988 while stationed in Wiesbaden Germany, but my interest in Ham Radio began way back around 1970. Previously licensed as AB7DG. As of Feb 1, 2013I have received my new call W6VFW honoring my military career.
CB radios were very popular back in 1970 while I was stationed at Randolph AFB which happened to be close to my home, San Antonio Texas. I wasn’t interested in CB radio, but when I found out that there was a morse code requirement for ham radio, I backed off from it because I didn’t think I could learn morse code. My brother was into CB radio, so when he found I was interested in ham radio, he asked me to give CB radio a try and gave me a mobile radio for my truck. He helped me install it, and I even submitted the application for a license (Now I believe I may have been the only person to do so!). Well, after 3 days of hearing nothing but truckers and other people jumping all over each other, I uninstalled the radio and returned it to my brother. I drifted away from the thought of getting into ham radio.
My brother-in-law had been a ham radio operator since he was a teenager, N6DWL, so when he found out I was interested, he began urging me to try code. He gave me books and code tapes to use. I agreed to try it, but didn’t feel confident that I would learn the code. I moved on to another assignment at Clark Air Base, Philippines in 1974. After a couple months of working with the tapes and no other Hams around, I lost my motivation and again drifted away from ham radio.
I moved on to a couple more assignments back to the US, and then to Yokota AB, Japan in 1984. After 5 years in Japan, I received my next assignment to Lindsey Air Station, Wiesbaden Germany in early 1988. I ran into a couple friends who were ham radio operators. I told them I had been interested in ham radio, but scared of the code requirement. They told me it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was and invited me to their radio club meeting with Wiesbaden Amateur Radio Club. Within a couple months of meeting these guys, I knew my code well pass my 5wpm exam, so I tried it. I got my initial Technician class license – N2JCO! My friends urged me to continue studying the code, so that I could take the 13wpm. If I passed, I could earn a reciprocal German license that would have Extra equivalent privileges, so that motivated me to continue. In the meantime, I got my reciprocal German license, DA2EN, and got on the air.
Within in a month, I was ready to take the 13wpm exam and earned my Advanced class license – KE2TR. By this time I was liking morse code and operating primarily using that mode. I kept studying and my speed kept improving. Before I received my updated license in the mail, I took the Extra class exam and earned my license – AA2BU. Funny how the thing that kept me away from ham radio (CW) for so many years, turned out to be my favorite mode! I was really enjoying ham radio now. I became very active in my club’s activities and events, and even became a VEC. Soon after, one of my friends got me involved in MARS, and ended up with AFA7CW as my call.
Then in July 1992, I got my assignment to McClellan AFB, here is Sacramento CA. I didn’t join a ham radio club and didn’t know any ham radio operators. So, I drifted away from ham radio a little at a time. Eventually, I began selling my equipment a piece at a time, until I became totally inactive in ham radio until July 2012, 20+ years later!
While digging around boxes in the garage, I found a couple ham radio items I had kept, one being my German hand-made Schurr paddle that I had only gotten to use for about a month before packing it for my rotation to Sacramento in 1992. Then I started getting the urge to get back to ham radio. I decided to check on my license to see if it was still valid and found out it was. Although I remembered that I had updated my address after arriving in Sacramento, but was deployed to Nellis AFB, NV at the time. I must have checked an option without knowing because when I got my updated license, my call had changed to AB7DG which is what it is now.
So, that brings me to today! I have recently purchased a new Yaesu FT-450D and got back on the air. A week or so ago, I won an ebay bid on a Navy Flameproof straight key, so am now working on getting my code up to par. I found W6SFM radio club while searching the internet, and have since become a member. Check out the “about us” link above. I am excited to be back to my hobby! Hopefully, we will meet on the bands one of these days!
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