DICK GARREN K6GAK
First licensed as KN6GAK (novice) at age eighteen in March 1954, I have been a dedicated DXer throughout my amateur radio operations. I hold an Amateur Extra Class license.
After graduating from Helix High School (La Mesa, California) in 1954, I attended San Diego State University where I participated in the Air Force ROTC program and earned a BA degree. I subsequently received a commission and served for six years on active duty as an officer in the United States Air Force. My initial assignment was as a Personnel Officer at Headquarters Air Weather Service, Scott AFB, Belleville, Illinois. I was then assigned to the 1st Weather Wing, 10th Weather Group at Fuchu Air Station near Tokyo, Japan. While stationed in Japan, I was licensed as KA2GA from 1960-62. I'm proud to be a Viet Nam veteran and was involved in the establishment and operation of military weather observation stations throughout Southeast Asia.
When I returned to the United States, I attended the six month Air Force Nuclear Weapons Maintenance Officer school at Lowry AFB, Denver, Colorado and was then assigned as the Nuclear Weapons Maintenance Officer for the 539th Fighter Interceptor Squadron (F-106) at McGuire AFB, Wrightstown, New Jersey. I was also a member of an Air Force inspection team responsible for assuring compliance with storage and maintenance standards for other Air Defense Command fighter squadrons. In 1964, I was transferred to the 425th Munitions Maintenance Squadron at Stewart AFB, Newburgh, New York (adjacent to the United States Military Academy at West Point) as a member of a small organization responsible for maintaining United States custody and control of nuclear weapons consigned to the Royal Canadian Air Force. I completed my active service in October 1965.
Convair F-106 Delta Dart, 539th Fighter Interceptor Squadron
Prior to retirement from the private sector in 2003, my business career was in human resources management at General Dynamics Convair, Sea World Inc. and the San Diego Blood Bank. Betty, my XYL of 49 years (a New Yorker from Manhattan) and I were married in 1964 in Montgomery, Alabama where I was attending the Air Force Squadron Officer School at Maxwell AFB. Our beloved daughter Janet was born in July 1967 and died in April 2008 from complications of multiple sclerosis. She was a graduate of Grossmont High School, La Mesa, California and attended San Diego State University. San Diego has always been my home, but since travel has been an important element in my life and work, there are additional cities that I consider "home towns." New York City, Denver, St. Louis, Orlando, Tokyo and Hong Kong are all extended home towns. Betty and I live with our Pembroke Welsh Corgi "Chowder" and are active members of St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church in La Mesa, California.
I currently have all 340 active and 369 total DXCC entities worked and confirmed and have earned DXCC Mixed Number One Honor Roll. My equipment consists of a Yaesu FTdx-5000MP with a Heil PR-781 microphone, a Begali Signature Edition magnetic return paddle, a Yaesu VL-1000 Quadra System 1KW solid state linear amplifier, a Yaesu SM-5000 Station Monitor and a Yeasu FT-7900 with a Heil HC-5 HandiMic for 144/440 MHz FM repeater operation.
My antennas are a Force 12 XR-5 five band yagi (10-12-15-17-20 meters) at 45', an M2 6M5X 6 meter five element yagi at 50', inverted Vs for 30 and 40 meters and a Diamond X510MA vertical for 2m/70cm. I use a Hy-Gain Ham IV with a DCU-2 Directional Control Unit to rotate my yagis. Since my QTH is a small city lot, I unfortunately don't have sufficient space for a 75/80 meter or a 160 meter antenna.
My Elmer was Frank "Pancho" Grey W6WNN who had previously operated as W9LLM in Chicago. Pancho was a wonderful friend and mentor with whom I maintained contact throughout the years. He worked for the telephone company for many years and later worked as a broadcast engineer for a local television station. After I received my Novice license, Pancho built my first transmitter (a 60 watt 829B CW rig) and participated in my first amateur radio QSO. He allowed me to borrow his Gonset Communicator enabling me to have AM contacts on 2 meters. Novices were allowed to work 2 meter crystal controlled AM in those days. FM repeaters had yet to become the standard of 2 meter amateur communication. As a condition of borrowing the Gonset, I promised I would continue working CW on the novice bands in preparation for my 13 wpm General Class license test to be conducted at the FCC basement office in downtown San Diego. That was a scary place as I remember it.
I will ever be grateful to Pancho for the gift of amateur radio. After retirement, he and his wife Harriet moved to Oregon where he became K7QWU. He is now a silent key.
Amateur radio, with emphasis on DXing, continues to be a lifelong hobby providing pleasure and enrichment to every day of my life.
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