On May 29, 2004 Amateur Radio Operators from Various Fort Wayne, Indiana Clubs began to assemble at the Fort Wayne Wizards Memorial Stadium for a very unique Special Event. The Amateurs were to conduct the very first Amateur Radio Military Appreciation Day. This event was held to honor and show appreciation to those that serve and have served in the Military, and related Auxiliary groups. Planning started for this event on March 31, 2004 after Emery McClendon / KB9IBW; the events organizer had conversations with Military Ham Operators at various location around the world, and in the U.S.
The conversations all centered on what Amateur Radio could do to help our Military members understand that people supported them. The result was the formation of ARMAD, Amateur Radio Military Appreciation Day, so that Amateur Radio could allow the public to speak with active duty, retired, veterans, and other associated groups live via ham radio, and speak words of appreciation. What was to make this event different was the ability to make live contacts with those involved with military service so that they could hear the positive voice of support from communities throughout America. Unlike writing letters, this event was to allow us to interact with the troops that are deployed, and serve at home, giving them live contacts with the people of our community, and others across the country and the world. As the planning of the event went forth, we soon found out that other Amateur Radio Clubs also wanted to take part in ARMAD, and set up at locations in their communities. We then decided to contact Clubs around the world and ask them to participate in ARMAD. We received many requests from other local Clubs, and military Amateur Operators to join us during the event operating from public locations where people usually gather. We also found out that not all Amateurs are united in working together for the benefit of helping our hobby grow, and obtain recognition. We received many negative feedbacks and found out that many ham operators refused to help us with this event that we felt would help our hobby grow, and revive an interest in Amateur Radio.
We continued planning and decided to find a location for the event. I contacted the Fort Wayne Wizards baseball team and asked them if we could work with them on the selected date as the Wizards were having a game on the same date. The staff liked our idea and allowed us to operate from the stadium. We then began to plan for operations from the stadium, and Ron Kaufman / N9KNJ, Richard Andrews / N9HRA, and myself went to the stadium to map out the locations for our radio’s, and to plan for potential problems with the operation. A week later we asked for volunteers for the Special Event and held a meeting to assign workers to each station. We received help from the Fort Wayne Radio club, the Allen County Amateur Radio Technical Society, and the NE Indiana DX Association.
We decided to run three Echolink stations, one IRLP, and two HF stations, along with a PSK 31 station under the direction of Tom Baker / N9TB, and Steve Nardin / WB9ZIY.
Support from the local community began to grow, and people began to spread the message by word of mouth and emails around the world. The local media picked up on the event and an article was printed in the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel on April 25, 2004 on the front page. The article can be read at www.nmam.org under events 2004 Fort Wayne, Indiana and click on “More.” Also see www.geocities.com/kb9ibw for information and photo’s of the event. The event was a great success and over 6500 people gathered at Memorial Stadium to enjoy the game, and to show support to the Military via Amateur Radio. Local coverage was provided by ABC, NBC, and CBS, as well as from the Fort Wayne, News-Sentinel paper.
As the event date became closer we made fliers and passed out over 2000 during The Dayton Hamvention, and placed them in locations all over the local communities.
We also received several interviews on three local radio stations for the event, and contacted the local TV stations and asked for coverage.
Finally the day arrived and the operators met at Memorial Stadium at 0900 hours on May 29, to prepare to work ARMAD 2004. We went on the air at 1000 hours with State Senator Dennis Kruse making the first contact with Cherry Point Marine Air Station in North Carolina, and with a retired soldier from the British Military in the U.K. During the event we had two Allen County Commissioners present. Commissioner Marla Irving presented us with a Proclamation that proclaimed the day as Amateur Radio Military Appreciation Day. We also received two Proclamations from the Governor of the State of Indiana, and a surprise letter of endorsement from U.S. Senator Richard Lugar. During a ceremony before the baseball game each Proclamation and letter was read and the 6500 fans were asked to stand and salute our troops in honor of their service as we keyed up the Amateur Radio’s. Many of the fans were able to speak with military members via ham radio during the event. The attendance for ARMAD was the largest in the history of the stadium, and the event went off very well with many contacts made around the U.S. and the world to our Military members as well as other coalition groups. Included in locations were Kuwait, England, Greece, Sweden, and Fort Bragg. Also contacted were Cherry Pointe Marine Station, Fort Carson, Fort Sill, The Silversides Submarine Group, and many more Military and Auxiliary groups.
We have received many requests to repeat ARMAD from around the world, and have decided to make it an annual event, and request that Amateur Clubs and operators join us for this event so that we as Ham’s can boost our hobby, and recruit new members. We have designed an Official T-Shirt for the event, which can be seen and ordered at www.geocities.com/kb9ibw by clicking on the ARMAD link.
We thank all the Amateurs from our local clubs, and clubs around the world that helped us to make ARMAD a great event in 2004. Let us strive to work together in the future to grow Amateur Radio, and to showcase what we can do for our communities and military.
We have joined the National Military Appreciation Month organization, and will work to show support for the people who serve our Country and protect our freedoms.
Emery McClendon / KB9IBW
My hat is off to you Emery and all of your crew for a job well done. I had the pleasure to work your IRLP link twice during the event. Thanks for the nice certificate and the QSL card. I'll look forward to next year's event.
You guys sure know how to make Army Signal Corps soldiers feel good!
THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!
I am "radio silent" at my current location; but had great fun when I was in Baghdad. Oh, the pile-ups!
Bless you all.
The CODE that MATTERS: The Amateur's Code