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MARS in Harvey

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio News' started by N1IN, Sep 2, 2017.

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  1. N1IN

    N1IN Ham Member QRZ Page

    Four Teams deploy, New Chief in Action

    An Ill Wind. Mother Nature didn't pull any punches while battle-testing the new wrinkles at Army and Air Force MARS. It was their first response to real crisis under DoD’s revised guidelines but even so, the upgraded military support mission and streamlined resources unfolded smoothly, at least in this writer’s estimation. Of course, what remained to be measured could be most crucial: endurance.

    ARMARS initially deployed four communications teams six hours before Harvey’s first landfall on Aug. 25, 2017—two to reinforce the Texas Military Forces' HQ at Camp Mabry, Austin; one team to Mission Command in San Antonio, and one to Camp Swift, the National Guard training post at hard-hit Bastrop on the Colorado River. Region 6 networks switched to emergency mode with volunteer region director Rodney Warner’s fully trained and equipped cadre poised for dispatch wherever summoned.

    Members of both MARS branches were still reacting to lessons from the DoD national exercise barely two months previously. Then, Air Force and Army MARS operated on the air as a single team, sharing net controls and relay teams. Outreach to the general ham community and National Guard members was a major task. Unlike that drill, for Harvey the two branches were alerted separately. Perhaps the difference reflects their paramount task of supporting DoD elements in national contingencies; Harvey for all its horrific destruction was regional from the communications viewpoint.

    ARMARS Chief, as Hurricane Volunteer. CAM Paul English resides in the central Texas town of Salado, which suddenly found itself designated as a processing center for evacuees. Off duty, he volunteered as a civil reservist to help with the chaotic influx. Bell County Expo Center became a R&R facility where the homeless were sorted into busloads of 50 or so and forwarded to separate, widely-dispersed inland encampments. That way, no one town should be overwhelmed.

    English had witnessed civil catastrophe first-hand during the Haiti earthquake of 2010. Two years later he came to MARS as a DoD civilian. He succeeded Stephen G. Klinefelter as chief last spring.

    Change of command calls for a colorful ritual starring the old and new leaders. These two truly earned that ceremonial honor. In his four years the fast-on-his-feet, open-minded Klinefelter success-fully hustled Army MARS back into the military mainstream after four decades when it was mostly ignored by the Army. As his deputy, English, an Extra Class ham (WD8DBY), brought patience, thoughtfulness and single-minded clarity to the command.

    However, English got no HQ ceremony. He’s evidently the first CAM not stationed at the MARS command center; he tele-commands from home near Fort Hood TX, some 850 miles east of Fort Huachuca. Fort Hood is the Army’s largest base and home of the vaunted First Cavalry Division with which Paul had served in Iraq. (Interesting coincidence: when NETCOM’s predecessor unit moved to Fort Huachuca after the war in Vietnam, “many skilled personnel” opted to stay put “rather than become pioneers in desolate, rattlesnake-infested Arizona.”) (Army STRATCOM Official History.)
    Adapted from 2017 Update, “Army MARS at 90,” Lulu Press, 96 pages, $13.95 plus S7H.

    WJ2L, WA5VHU, AD5KO and 1 other person like this.
  2. AE7XG

    AE7XG Ham Member QRZ Page

    Way to go guys. Yet again we as hams hear this. Unheralded the news. I applaud you and your TEAMS.
    WJ2L, WU8Y, F4HVY and 2 others like this.
  3. AK5B

    AK5B Ham Member QRZ Page

    I was beginning to wonder if there were any hams involved with this deadly and costly disaster of epic proportions---until today I hadn't seen a word on the QRZ home page about anyone responding to Hurricane Harvey, emergency nets, etc. and it made me wonder if this was all just a very bad dream.

    Thank you for your service, MARS operations and all the types of help that you are providing throughout our area in this time of tremendous need for good communications! Great bway to go, guys!

    73 73 73 73 73 73 73 73 73 73!

    Jeff & Leti Cathrow, NH7RO & KG5SWN
    Rockport hams who evacuated before things got out of hand
    WJ2L and AE9AM like this.
  4. WB6FQZ

    WB6FQZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thanks for your service, I'm sure it made a difference.
    I was in Navy Marine Corps MARS for 10 years but never deployed.
    WJ2L likes this.
  5. N1PMK

    N1PMK Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thank You for our service continuing the MARS mission. I also served for quite a few years until moving and having to close station.
    Prior experience with MARS was being able to call home via patch while on board the USS Yorktown during a West Pac. cruise 1968
    Could not find anything related to MARS near my AO while deployed to Saudi Arabia during Desert Storm as an Army reservist.
    WJ2L likes this.
  6. K4AGO

    K4AGO Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    I was an an Air Force MARS member for about 5 years before a break in made all my ham radio equipment vanish. This story makes me want to re up. JOB WELL DONE MARS !!!
    WJ2L and WB1E like this.
  7. W6MQI

    W6MQI Ham Member QRZ Page

    Well done MARS two thumbs up! I too was a Navy MARS member back in the late 70's had a lot of fun.
    WJ2L likes this.
  8. W1SRR

    W1SRR XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Does the Navy still have MARS?
  9. NN4RH

    NN4RH Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

  10. KC5TT

    KC5TT Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    I live in Katy just outside Houston and the local 2m/440 machines were very busy. There were ARES and Emergency traffic being passed through Transtar. On my local club station there was direct traffic passed ensuring club member were safe and we were pass road closures and power outage traffic as well. there were many Hams directly in providing communications at some of the shelters as well as gathering locations for donations. Every day we had Hams checking into the repeaters to check on each other and give reports on their immediate surrounding.

    There are many Hams in our area that got evacuated and even lost their Homes. I like many, were prepared for the worst and got lucky. I stayed on the Air through the storm for the week and tried to keep up with all the information and on top of the situation. Even today we experienced traffic delays that turn a 40 minute commute in to a 2 1/2 hour one, and like we always do, us Hams run the drive time together. One of our favorite topic here in Houston is traffic and we can't wait to get back to how horrible the traffic use to be.

    Thank You,
    WJ2L and AK5B like this.

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