America Supports You: Radio Clubs to 'Ham it Up' for Troops
By Rudi Williams
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 16, 2005 Ham radio operators and amateur radio clubs plan to "Ham It Up for the Troops" on May 28 during the second annual Amateur Radio Military Appreciation Day to thank active duty, veterans and retired military people for their service and sacrifices to the nation, according to ARMAD's founder and former Air Force sergeant Emery McClendon.
Emery McClendon founded Amateur Radio Military Appreciation
Day in 2004 in Fort Wayne, Ind. He said he expects participation to triple for
the 2005 event on May 28.
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
"ARMAD is a day when all amateur radio operators and amateur radio clubs worldwide are invited to gather at public locations to allow our citizens to express words of thanks and appreciation to our military members and coalition forces in a live format," said McClendon, who founded and established ARMAD in Fort Wayne, Ind., almost a year ago.
"The original purpose of ARMAD was to encourage amateurs worldwide to use our hobby to express thanks as a public service for those that serve in the military, including active duty, veterans and retirees," said the former aircraft refueler. "We also wanted to allow their families to support one another with words of encouragement by contacting other ARMAD locations."
Ham radio operators set up in public locations such as shopping centers, parks, Veterans Affairs hospitals and sporting events to express verbal positive support "live" over the radio for active duty military people, members of the reserve components, veterans, family members and military support groups, McClendon said.
ARMAD is associated with National Military Appreciation Month and is being held during the weekend of Memorial Day, a day of remembrance for those who have died in the nation's service.
"It was felt that to honor those that serve during this special day would be fitting as this day was already special to those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for this country," McClendon noted. "On this day, many people gather at events to pay tribute to those that have died for our freedom."
This year, amateur radio operators will participate from several states -- Florida, California, Washington, Ohio, Michigan, Louisiana, Colorado, Texas, North and South Carolina and others. Operators in several foreign countries also are slated to participate, including Australia, Greece, Kuwait and England, and members of the Iraq Amateur Radio Club are expected to join in as well, according to McClendon.
"We expect many others, including ships and military hospitals, as we approach the event date," he said. "Last year, we had more than 25 different groups in the U.S. and about 15 foreign countries participating in ARMAD," McClendon noted. "We expect participation to triple for the 2005 event. We've had great response just by word of mouth. With publicity, we will grow, and reach many more troops and communities."
McClendon served four years on active duty in the Air Force, including 15 months at Clark Air Base in the Philippines, and two years in the active Indiana Air National Guard.
McClendon said he received several heartwarming comments during last year's ARMAD, which was held at Fort Wayne Memorial Stadium. Noting that local government officials read proclamations of support for the military during a small ceremony, McClendon said, "After hearing these local officials speak over the radio, some of our military members remarked that they were pleased and felt privileged that a government official would take time away from families for such a cause.
"There were also many heartwarming comments from young children expressing thanks to our men and women for what they do to keep America free," he noted. "Many kind words were exchanged from all over the world to American and coalition troops. One man from Kuwait joined us on the air to say thanks to America for freeing his country from Saddam Hussein. His statements moved the crowd in the stadium."
McClendon emphasized that ARMAD is not affiliated with the Military Affiliate Radio System in any way, except that many MARS operators are amateur radio operators. But MARS plays an active role in ARMAD.
"ARMAD is for those that serve our great country," McClendon said. "We want to spread the word to as many military members and communities as possible so that we can help boost the morale of those that serve in this positive manner."