The first amateur radio station at West Point, NY, was founded by LT William Holmes Wenstrom with the call letters 2CX in 1926.
In 1932, LT Edward C. Gillette, USMA Class of 1920, began instructing in the Department of Chemistry and Electricity. Gillette, W2JIG, is instrumental in establishing the Cadet Radio Club. The earliest QSL cards in the club's records bear his callsign and he was both control operator and Elmer for cadets. Later, COL Gillette would return to the academy and Head the Department of Chemistry until 1964 when he retired. Soon after, he became a Silent Key.
The club received its current call sign, W2KGY, in 1937.
The USMA Amateur Radio Club (also known as the Ham Club) has been dedicated to developing cadets with the technical and personal skills required to be future military and community leaders. To accomplish this, the club strives to remain on the forefront of communications technology and have the cadets use this technology to reach out internationally, and within the local community. Club members learn how to design, build and operate continuous-wave (Morse code), voice and data communication systems. They are also encouraged to take the Federal Communications Commission examination and become licensed Amateur Radio operators. The club competes in international competitions against other licensed operators, clubs, universities and military academies. We support local Scouts during the International Jamboree on the Air (JOTA) and provide instruction and equipment to qualify for patches and the Radio Merit badge.
Club members interact with elementary and high schools, fostering an interest in science and radio as a hobby or career. Additionally, the cadets learn how to provide important communications during emergencies such as hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, motorist accidents, floods, fires, chemical spills, and to assist search and rescues. In short, our members learn to be leaders of character, value community service, have a sense of the global community they live in, and an understanding of the technology which is increasingly bringing the global community closer together.
Amateur Radio provides cadets with the opportunity to learn about a diverse array of communication capabilities; including the Internet, cellular radio, packet radio, slow scan television, satellite, line of sight communication, repeaters and over the horizon communication techniques. The cadets gain a fundamental understanding of current technology that is useful in our increasingly technologically dependent Army. The club also reinforces lessons learned in their engineering classes and enables the cadets to contact other radio operators internationally to practice their foreign language skills.
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