Like many people, I always wanted to be a HAM at an early age, but I did not know how to go about it. When I did, it would be 1986 before I had the time. My thanks to Chris Crobaugh NU8R and Ola Sloane WD8MOU (silent key) for being my Elmers.
In 1987 when NWS Cleveland was looking for radio amateurs to volunteer for the Skywarn program, I was among the first group representing Lorain County at the NASA Lewis Research Center meeting. For the next 12 years I was only a "page" away from responding as a mobile spotter. We also had an amateur radio operator at the weather center to act as a liaison. A 6 meter backbone was developed for the county net control operators to send in their reports to the weather center consolidated from their respective county spotters and keep the wx traffic organized. That's were the "WX" comes from in the call. As doppler radar was developed and gained in effectiveness our need was reduced.
Volunteering for the weather service also led to meeting Tom Kelly a volunteer fireman and EMA worker for Lorain County. That lead me to volunteering for EMA and led Tom to being its Director in time. The B F Goodrich fire, the Aztec Chemical Plant explosion, and few other things added to my ARES/RACES volunteer experiences.
In late 1999 I accepted a transfer to Pensacola and made the move in April of 2000. And that's where the "4" comes from in the call. I always had a mobile rig for HF, 2M and 70cm, but Florida is a great place for motorcycling and I never set up a home station again until 2006. So Ham Radio kind of took a back seat for a few years while I rode the Harley 24/7 until I retired. Now, I have an ever growing home station and I can enjoy the hobby daily. I also collect Drake equipment. If it doesn't glow it's not a radio!
I'm active on HF, 6 meters and 2 meters. I belong to the ARRL, 5 Flags ARA, Milton ARC, 10-10 International, South CARS and SMIRK. I love DXing on 40m, 15m and 10m (241 countries 224 confirmed and Islands on the Air 172 contacted with 139 confirmed), collecting grids (219 now on 6m) on 6 and 2. I have completed DXCC on 4 bands and close on a 5th band all since my call sign change in 2007.
I was in the Marine Corps from 1970 to 1976 and wanted a call that expressed my love for my country and that would be distinctive for DX and that's where the "US" comes from in the call sign. In a pileup they might not hear or understand "uniform sierra", but the entire world understands "United States" or "Uncle Sam". I checked the FCC data base and to my surprise there was only one other person who had ever thought of asking for that call and that was 2 years earlier and it was his second choice as he received his first. The National Hurricane Center and the National Severe Storms Forcasting Center and other weather related offices already had their call signs so in 2007, I applied for it. The fact that the call could be looked at as saying "weather for us" is a excellant throw-back to the mobile spotter days and the thousands of miles driven chasing storms in northern Ohio under the call N8IAO.
One day I would like to go on a DXexpedition to a little worked area, but for now I'm thrilled to be retired after 37 years of civil service and on the air every day. 73 de Fred WX4US Pensacola FL Grid EM60hm
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