Plodding Along

Not a lot has changed in the past couple of weeks, radio-wise. I’m still working lots of digital modes (including CW) and enjoying it. FT4 activity seems to be increasing … probably since the FT8 segments are so crowded. PSK and Olivia activity is still sporadic, but I did notice some nice signals on 20 meters around lunchtime today … strong and lots of them!

One of my coworkers just became a ham last week. He attended an outdoor testing session, to comply with the social distancing recommendations. He passed the Technician and General class licenses, and was formally granted KO4DBF after about a week’s time or so.

Our club held its first virtual club meeting last night, using Zoom. Last week I attended our QCWA chapter meeting via Zoom as well. Looks like Zoom is the preferred method of social interaction now. At work, we’re using Microsoft Teams, but I like the Zoom interface better.

As a matter of fact, I’ve got two Zoom meetings later this evening. First, our Scout Troop, and then after that, our church Choir. We’ve been doing virtual meetings for Scouts for several weeks now and it seems to be working well. The choir meeting is more of a social thing rather than musical … just to keep in touch while in-person services are suspended. Our virtual church services are on FaceBook live.

73 de Dick N4BC

Silent Key – W4QM, Dale Streiter

I was saddened to read of the passing of another old friend recently …

SB SPCL @ ARL $ARLX002
ARLX002 Past ARRL Southeastern Division Director H. Dale Strieter,
W4QM (SK)

ZCZC AX02
QST de W1AW
Special Bulletin 2 ARLX002
From ARRL Headquarters
Newington CT January 28, 2020
To all radio amateurs

SB SPCL ARL ARLX002
ARLX002 Past ARRL Southeastern Division Director H. Dale Strieter,
W4QM (SK)

Past ARRL Southeastern Division Director Harmon “Dale” Strieter,
W4QM (ex-W4DQS), of Cocoa Beach, died on January 6. An ARRL Life
Member, he was 92 and a founding member of the Maxim Society.

Strieter was ARRL Southeastern Division Director from 1970 until
1973.

During World War II, he served as US Maritime Service radio officer
in the Pacific. After the war, he received a bachelor’s degree in
electrical engineering from Michigan State. He got his amateur radio
license in 1947. Strieter later earned an MSEE from Michigan State,
and then worked as an audio engineer.

In 1958, Strieter moved to Cocoa Beach to work for General Electric,
a NASA contractor, and he served as the guidance engineer on the
Mercury and Gemini manned spaceflight missions.

Strieter was a prolific DXpeditioner. After 20 years with GE, he
returned to sea in 1979 as a radio officer in the US Merchant Marine
on a ship generally anchored at Chagos. As VQ9QM, Strieter logged
more than 200,000 contacts from nearby Diego Garcia, between 1986
and 2001. He retired in 2002.
NNNN
/EX

I first met Dale when I worked as a contractor for Ford Aerospace on Diego Garcia. He was one of a diverse group of hams there. Some were Navy personnel, some Merchant Marine like himself, and others were contractor personnel, like me. Over time, he became a close friend, and we shared many hours together, operating from the club station there on the island, sharing meals and drinks, or just sitting and talking. He was an interesting person! I was in awe of his CW prowess!

One morning, we woke up and the lagoon was empty of ships, and the normally deserted airfield was full of B-52s and KC-10s. Desert Storm was underway.

I eventually left the island and returned to the States, and like many good friendships, distance caused this one to lapse. Still, I thought about Dale and all the others every now and then, and reminisced about the “good old days.”

Rest in peace, old friend!

73 de Dick N4BC

A Bit of Hope

We had some good news last night at the club meeting from Charlie, WB4PVT. T-Mobile is putting up a new tower and they seem agreeable to hosting our 2-meter and 70-centimeter repeaters on it. Both repeaters have been homeless for a couple of years after losing our previous site. Quite a bit of the meeting was taken up with discussion of this topic. We don’t have a lot of details yet.

We’re also seeing a positive turn in membership after several silent keys in our membership over the past few months. Unfortunately, with the aging of the ham population, it seems to be an inevitable trend.

73 de Dick N4BC

Reminiscences

Yesterday evening, I was home alone, sitting in the living room, and outside it was nasty … almost dark, a chilly drizzle, foggy … nasty! As so often happens in circumstances like that, my mind drifted back to earlier times … reminiscing about friends no longer with us.

For some reason, my mind dredged up Max DeHenseler, HB9RS. Max passed away in 2014 after a 50-year “career” in ham radio. He was 80 when he left us.

Max, HB9RS

First licensed at twelve, he went on to make a name for himself in ham radio circles. Look him up on QRZ.com as HB9RS for a full description of his activities and honors. He operated all over the world, thanks to his job at the United Nations as their Chief Cartographer. He was instrumental in establishing 4U1UN, the United Nations HQ station.

I first ran into Max on the air when he was ET3RS in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. I was living in the Seychelles Islands, operating as VQ9D. Almost every day, Max could be found on the air, and we sort of made it a habit to listen out for each other and chat about the things that hams chat about 🙂 . It was usually a pleasant interlude from the huge pileups we both used to generate. Being fairly close (geographically), we could override the QRM. Max left ET3-land eventually, and returned to UN HQ at New York.

Max’s QSL Card at ET3RS

One year, George, VQ9GP and I flew back to the US on vacation at the same time and Max graciously invited us to stop by UN HQ in New York City for a reunion and tour. George and I showed up and we had a great time and a great tour.

Unfortunately, that was the last time I saw Max … our paths just never crossed again. That happens a lot in our hobby. We’re so far-flung and distant from each other, we develop friendships without ever meeting physically.

Max was such a gentleman and great ham, I consider myself privileged to not only have been his friend, but to actually have met him. I wasn’t disappointed when that happened. He was the same great guy on the air or in person.

73 de Dick N4BC

Legacies

I received a wonderful email this past weekend from the great nephew of the previous holder of my callsign. He had read my Bio on QRZ and wrote to let me know a bit of the history of his great uncle Leach Lonzo Lea Jr, now a Silent Key. I had done some cursory research on the internet, but that only yielded superficial facts … his name, his former address … stuff like that.

” My uncle was Leach Lonzo Lea Jr. He obtained his license after serving in WWII, he told me he had to travel to Atlanta GA and sit in front of FCC examiners to take his test. Uncle Jr. used his GI Bill and went to the University of Tennessee and received his degree in Electronics. He then spent a career with the Tennessee Valley Authority as a  two way radio technician. One of his hobbies, in the 1950’s, was radio control airplanes. He built the radio equipment as he liked to build everything. Remember I mentioned the Heathkit equipment? Anyway, I wanted to share a little about the life of the man that had your call sign prior to you. “ This is an excerpt from the email from his great nephew, Derek Lea N3WKM.

Derek points out in his email that it was his great uncle that really kindled his lifelong interest in radio and electronics. I think we all have an “Uncle Jr.” somewhere in our past. This is not a hobby where most of us just woke up one day and decided to be a ham. Somewhere … somebody or something planted the spark that piqued your curiosity. This hobby of ham radio is all about mentoring … or Elmering, if you prefer. It’s about passing on knowledge and helping each other, and that’s what keeps it great!

Thanks to Derek, I now have a much better sense of the history of my callsign. I’ll continue to try to honor that legacy by staying active and trying to be a “good” ham.

73 & Happy Holidays de Dick N4BC