Ham Radio in Paradise
Andersen Air Force Base
Guam 1951 - 1953
This was Amateur Radio Station KG6FAA in 1952. Of course, I'm biased, but I considered it to be one of the top "Ham" stations in the world. Located on Andersen Air Force Base, at the northeast tip of the island of Guam, the station's mission was to gather military service personnel's messages from all over the Far East and send them, along with the messages from Air Force personnel on Guam, to the United States. This was a free service. The ususal "traffic load" would be at least 100 messages sent to, and received from the states daily, but during the holiday seasons that number soared. All stateside traffic was handled on CW (Morse code). The station also functioned as a "back-up" for the usual military nets in case of emergency. KG6FAA served its purpose well.
The station equipment featured a Collins 310-B driving one of two modified military Hallicrafters BC-610 transmitters. The Chief Operator could select for his receiver a Hammarlund Super-Pro, a National HRO, or a Collins 75-A2. with a DB-22A Preselector. But the real star of the station was a three-curtain rhombic antenna, up 90 feet in the air and aimed 47 degrees, making the KG6FAA signal extremely strong and reliable for 40 meter CW contacts with stateside civilian stations WØTQD, W6KYV, and W5MN. This made possible the daily exchange of message traffic. The other antennas were a 4 element Yagi beam for 10 meters and a 4 element Yagi beam for 20 meters. These were the only Amateur frequency bands available to us on Guam during those years. The 20 meter beam was used to handle messages to and from the Philippines, Japan and Okinawa. We used the 10 and 20 meter bands for "phone patches" to the States, allowing GI's to talk with the folks at home. We were very fortunate to have been in a red-hot sun-spot cycle and the ham bands were very good. Forty meters was so solid that, not only was it good most of the day and night, but so reliable we ran our traffic on 40 every single day. Twenty was good almost every night for phone patches to the states and 10 was also very active. Ham radio was really "roaring."
No story of KG6FAA would be complete without due credit to Clem Coggin, (N5XA - SK). Clem was almost solely responsible for the birth of the station. Through his efforts, ingenuity, persistance, and focus, not only did the station come into being, but its mission was established as a vital morale link between the U.S. Service personel stationed in the Far East, and their families back home.
This is a picture of Ben Favrholtz, one of the "early" operators of KG6FAA. The "AI4AA" was Ben's MARS (Military Amateur Radio Service) call. Notice the old Command Transmitter used as a VFO when the station was "young."
Some of the original users of the station. I don't have names for all of them, but the S/Sgt in the back and on the right appears to be Ben Favrholtz. I believe the officer standing just in front of him is Clem Coggin, regarded by most as the founder of the station.
One of the hidden advantages of being "Chief Operator" was the private room in the back of the station. That's the bunk on the right, complete with mosquito netting cover. The white blob at the foot of the bed is a bath towel. The broadcast radio was always tuned to Armed Forces Radio - our only broadcast station. The fan mounted on the wall was the only "air conditioning" we had. After about two weeks, the body adjusted to the climate, and a person didn't even perspire much.
To the east and just across the street from the Ham Station was Boondock Haven, a USO Service Club. No liquor was served there. But they had activities such as leathercraft classes, cards, and bingo. They also had very comfortable lounge chairs, cold soft drinks, plenty of reading material, and a relaxed atmosphere. The door to the right was entry to "Charlie Corn's Restaurant" where, for 90 cents you could get a breaded veal cutlet, sliced as thin as a worn dime, served with french-fried potatoes, or perhaps you would have preferred one of the worlds largest donuts. They sank to the bottom of the stomach and just lie there for hours, like a lead weight.
THE CAST OF CHARACTERS: Some of those I remember (and would like to get in touch with): Russ (Earl Russell)(SK), Al Nilges, Clem Coggin (N5XA-SK) who built the station, Lyle Quinn (WØTQD then, and now WØUS), Dave (W6KYV), Horace Mann (W5MN), Capt. Stanley Wozniak, George Costa, Bill Hilton, Jim Hindt, "Pinky" Davis, "Doc" (a Navy Chief Pharmacist Mate), "Rummy" Romberger ((a Navy Chief), Wayne Carroll (Now "QSL's by W4MPY"), Peanut, Otis (KG6AD), Cpl. Larry Dodd, Little Joe from the Chaplin's office, and Big Joe from the Receiver Site.
I have been in contact with Russ, Wayne, Lyle and George. If you know about any of the others, or would like to talk about the "old days" PLEASE contact me at W4UTI@arrl.net.
In the picture below, can you identify any of the Hams who were on Guam in 1951? If so, PLEASE let me know. The photo was taken at the "Christmas picnic."
Please come back soon!
The winds are always warm and comforting
in the Paradise of the Pacific.
Karl - W4UTI