Each month, there are always some History related Amateur Radio Special Event Stations; I picked three to write about for August 2018. To be more accurate, two of them are organizations which are being commemorated by multiple stations: the US Coast Guard’s (USCG) Anniversary and the Citizens Conservation Corps (CCC). Many are familiar with the USCG and its lifesaving role on the coasts and waterways of the nation (among other roles), but I imagine more than a few aren’t familiar with the CCC; it was a program that helped put people to work during the Great Depression and is just as deserving of recognition as one of our military services is. The third event that is being commemorated by a special event station this month is the flight of a US Navy blimp to the Arctic. It was part of a dual mission utilizing the latest technology of the era and some of the oldest aviation technology.
On the weekend of 4/5 August, a number of amateur radio stations and groups will be operating special event stations in honor of the US Coast Guard’s 228th Anniversary. On 4 August 1790, Congress authorized the Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton to form the United States Revenue Cutter Service, charged with enforcing customs laws. Since there was no United States Navy at the time (it wasn’t re-established until 1798), the Cutter Service also took on additional duties (some of which they still carry out today) as coastal defense, rescue, government transport, and mail transport. In 1915, the Cutter Revenue Service was merged with the United States Lifesaving Service to create the United States Coast Guard. In 1939, the Coast Guard took on additional duties when United States Lighthouse Service was brought under its control. In 1942, the Coast Guard picked up more responsibilities when the Bureau of Marine Inspection and Navigation was put under their control. As a result of these mergers and transfers, the Coast Guard became a multi-role agency with search and rescue, regulatory, and law enforcement duties. Because it can be transferred to military control during wartime, the Coast Guard is also considered one of the nation’s armed forces. During both World War I and World War II, it was transferred to the control of Navy Department and transferred back to the Treasury Department after the wars. After the terrorist attacks on 11 September 2001, the Coast Guard was transferred from the Treasury Department to the Department of Homeland Security. The Coast Guard has a significant presence in coastal Georgia, with stations in Savannah and Brunswick, at the port facilities in Savannah and Brunswick, and with Coast Guard Air Station Savannah at Hunter AAF in Savannah.
Citizens Conservation Corps on the Air (CCC on the Air) is 11/12 August (it takes place each year on the second full weekend of August). Amateur radio operators and groups across the country will be setting up and operating from the sites CCC camps and public works projects built by the CCC to honor the work of the Corps and the men it employed. The CCC was was one of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal work relief programs. Between the years of 1933 and 1942, the CCC employed men between the ages of 17 and 28 as unskilled manual laborers to conserve and improve local, state, and federal government owned lands. It served two purposes; it put many unemployed men back to work and improved government lands for the public. One of the most popular of the New Deal programs to relieve unemployment caused by the Great Depression, it also had a lasting impact on the country. Many of the state and federal parks and historic sites we have today are here because of the work the CCC did in reforestation, building programs, and infrastructure improvements. In coastal Georgia, CCC projects included (among many others) Fort Stewart, Fort Pulaski, McKinnon St. Simons Island Airport, the St. Simons Island Coast Guard Station, and the Okefenokee NWR. Look for participating stations on or around 3.550 CW and 3.950 LSB, 7.050 CW and 7.250 LSB, 14.050 CW and 14.250 USB, 21.050 CW and 21.250 USB, and 28.050 CW and 28.350 USB.
On 18 August 2018, the Shea Naval Aviation Museum Amateur Radio Club, W1NAS in South Weymouth, MA will be commemorating the 60th anniversary of the flight of the US Navy blimp Snow Goose from Naval Air Station South Weymouth to Resolute Bay on the Arctic Circle. Prior to finding the listing for this special event station, I didn’t know anything about this flight; while researching it online, I didn’t find much and what I did find seems to conflict with some of the information in the listing on the ARRL’s website (see next paragraph). In late July and August 1958, the ZPG-2 Airship Snow Goose and its crew made the flight for the purpose of evaluating lighter-than-air craft for supporting Arctic science and military missions. The flight took Snow Goose and crew from South Weymouth to Akron, OH to Fort Churchill in Manitoba, Canada to Resolute Bay where they then flew to Ice Island T-3. It was the first airship to fly into the Arctic Circle since it was done by the Graf Zeppelin in July 1931. The flight was 4,700 miles long and the airship never went above 2,100 ft. above sea level. Snow Goose‘s mission was successful, but ultimately it was for naught because the Navy ended that era of airship operations in 1961. W1NAS will be operating on or near 14.250 USB and 7.250 LSB. QSL via Steve Cohn, W1OD, 10 Hemlock Terrace, Randolph, MA 02368.
Both the ARRL listing and one of the sources I found indicate that the Snow Goose‘s mission was concurrent with the USS Nautilus‘s Arctic mission in August 1958. The conflict comes in where the ARRL listing states that the Snow Goose and USS Nautilus maintained communications with each other. Multiple book reviews of Arctic Mission: 90 North by Airship and Submarine by William Althoff, however, state that the two missions were not aware of each other because the Nautilus’ mission was secret whereas the Snow Goose‘s was public (just because the public was told the two missions weren’t’ aware of each, however, doesn’t mean they weren’t – it wouldn’t surprise me if they did maintain communications). The reviews of Arctic Mission also indicate that both missions were a response to the Soviet Union’s Sputnik launch. If you’re interested, the Lighter Than Air Society has a wonderful account of the flight by one of the crew members. I’m really interested in trying to find out more about this flight, including getting a copy of Althoff’s book if I can find an inexpensive one!
On 25/26 August, KD7ZDO, Clackamas County Amateur Radio Emergency Services in Oregon City, OR will be commemorating the End of the Oregon Trail’s 175th Anniversary.
In addition to these special events, the weekend of 18/19 August is International Lighthouse and Lightship Weekend (ILLW), which along with Museum Ships on the Air Weekend, is one of my favorite amateur radio events of the year. It isn’t unusual for lighthouses and lightships to be landmarks, historic sites, or museums, so ILLW is also a History related event. There is a huge list of participants in this event, so you’re likely to be able to add more than one lighthouse or lightship to you log over the weekend.