For three decades, I have been an amateur radio operator. Ham radio was introduced to me by a middle school science teacher who captured my imagination with this hobby by creating the mystery of the airwaves. When we stop and think about it, it is truly magical how our voice or digital signal is not only transmitted, but received and deciphered by another radio aficionado. After thirty years, that same magic and mystery still captures my imagination and all of this was instilled by one quirky science teacher over thirty years ago…the power of one.
With the recent boom in 10 Meter DX activity, the recent sunspots have given all radio amateurs renewed excitement. When I moved to Colorado 13 years ago, I remember one of my most memorable contacts on 10 meters when band conditions mimic where they are today. Although this contact from 13 years ago may seem basic or routine for many, it is one of my most memorable of mine for a variety of reasons.
Being the grandson of Irish immigrants, since becoming a ham in 1992, I have always wanted to have a confirmed QSO with the Emerald Isle. Such an opportunity was presented to me in October 2011. Gerry, EI9JU, was working a decent North American pile-up for well over an hour. With my rig running 50W into a G5RV, I was having little luck getting through the pile-up. Hearing that Gerry was starting to wear-our from the litany of QSOs that he was having, he happily announced that he had taken his last call and was going to go QRT for the day. In haste, I called, “Gerry, can you hang in for one more?” and gave my call-sign. Gerry obviously had a decision to make; acknowledge the one last desperate call…or he could have just as easily shut his rig off and called it quits after a successful afternoon on the air. How many times have we been presented with this situation not only in our radio activities, but in our lives? How many times have we heard from a child, “just one more story, please? The power of one at hand…
With his delicate Irish brogue, Gerry came back to my call for “just one more.” Feeling like I was making my first ever ham radio contact, my voice was filled with excitement, which I am sure that Gerry could sense. In our short QSO, I explained to Gerry that I have been a ham for two decades (at that time) and he was my first Ireland contact. Once we were able to finish our on-the-air ‘high-five’ for this accomplishment, I told him about the areas where my Grandmother and Grandfather were from in his homeland. What was great to find out was that he lived all not too far from my Grandmother’s home town of Sligo. I thanked Gerry for hanging in for just “one more” as it was a very special contact for me.
Gerry expressed his thanks to me for being involved in a momentous occasion for a fellow ham.
The story does not particularly end there…a few weeks later, on the eve of my birthday, what I had perceived to be a standard birthday card arrived in the mail. Considering it had my address on it with a unique identifier of “USA” at the bottom, I was a bit baffled. Enclosed showed the epitome of class in amateur radio operating. Gerry obviously was well aware of the enormity of my contact with him. He enclosed his QSL card with the message “thanks for giving me a reason to keep the old beam up on the tower.” Obviously, Gerry had some serious thoughts of taking the 10M beam down.
With The Power of One at hand, Gerry showed me the class and dignity that I need to possess in not only my operating skills and ham radio manners, but he showed me how powerful “one more” can be…especially as we associate and help out new, potential, or returning amateur radio operators. At the same time, Gerry will keep his 10M beam up on the tower to give other Emerald Isle seekers the opportunity for the unique contact. Bail ó Dhia ort to you, Gerry…
Dan – N2SRK
Parker Radio Association