Bill Sexton N1IN writes " What may have been the biggest amateur net and for sure the largest MARS net on record took place in late November when hams in the Military Affiliate Radio System (MARS)--more than 500 of them--checked in to celebrate the 75th anniversary of amateur radio's backup service to the U.S. Armed Forces. Among the 527 participating were five veterans of the original Army Amateur Radio System (AARS). It was founded in 1925, just two years after the first transatlantic QSO by licensed hams. The AARS became the Military Amateur Radio System (MARS) in 1948 with Army MARS and Air Force MARS programs. It was later designated as the Military Affiliate Radio System (MARS) and in 1962 the Navy-Marine Corps MARS was established. "A historic event was celebrated tonight," Army MARS Chief Robert Sutton, N7UZY, told the gathered hams from the three organizations. "A momentous accomplishment was noted and a major record was established for a single MARS event." Among the participants was Air Force MARS member Marvin Bernstein, W0SC, 85, of Tinton Falls NJ, who earned his first ham license in 1932. "In 1941 I must have read in QST that the Army had a system called AARS, and hams were encouraged to join. Buffalo (where he lived then) had a very large active ham population, and several of us joined." Later that year--a week before Pearl Harbor--he received a telegram inviting him to work in the Signal Corps Laboratory in Ft Monmouth NJ where he spent the next 30 years developing frequency control devices. The three-service net on Friday, Nov. 24 had check-ins from 47 states, Puerto Rico and Guam. Additional information about MARS can be found on the Army MARS Web Site http://www.asc.army.mil/mars ###"