U. S. Coast Guard Cutter Courier (WAGR-410) On Station anchored off the Greek Island of Rhodes in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea 10 miles from Turkey. USCGC Courier was on station from 17 July 1952 to 13 August 1964, a total of 12 years. I served on the Courier for 18 months as an ET2 from 24 August 1962 to 25 February 1964. It was an honor to serve on the Courier and be a part of the VOA!
GOOD CONDUCT SEA SERVICE OVERSEAS SERVICE
My Coast Guard Ribbon Rack Earned While Stationed On The Courier.
The above photo is a recent picture of my Collins Ham station. The transmitter is a KWS-1 sitting on the left side of the table. The transmitter's power supply is sitting on the floor to the left in the picture. The box sitting on the top of the power supply is a Johnson Viking 1-Kw Matchbox antenna coupler. Sitting to the right of the transmitter is my 75A-4 receiver. I finished the five month restoration of the gear and my Ham shack during the winter of 2006. On January 1, 2007 the station was operational and I was back on the air after being silent for 12 years.
I became a Ham operator in 1955 at age 17 while I was a student at Helix High School in La Mesa, California. My first call was KN6JHD as a Novice operator. After receiving my Novice license I progressed up the ranks to Technician, General and finally Advanced. When I got my General ticket, I started working the phone bands with my Viking Ranger using AM, but continued working CW. I enjoy chasing DX, working the pile-ups and rag chewing with friends I have met on the air. You will find me on 20 meters SSB and occasionally on 75, 40, 15 and 10 meters.
Lemon Grove has "The Best Climate On Earth."
This ia a recent photo of my TH-5 Tri Band Yagi
on a 45 foot Wilson Tubular Tower with a Rotor Base.
In 1960 I had my "Call of Duty" and enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard for four years active duty and two years inactive reserve. I was Honorably Discharged in 1966. After 12 weeks of basic training in Alameda, California I was sent to Electronic Technician (ET) School in Groton, CT. I graduated third in my class (0.5 Points out of second place) from the 30 week school as a Third Class Petty Officer (ET3) and received orders to my first duty station in San Pedro, California to the Coast Guard Base on Terminal Island. While I was stationed on the base I repaired everything from Radar Units to Radio Beacons. My favorite road trip was to Port Hueneme where I boarded a Float Plane and flew to Catalina Island. There my task was to repair and calibrate a radio beacon located in the Casino. The next morning I boarded the Float Plane for the 23 mile flight back to Port Hueneme and then drove back to the Coast Guard base at Terminal Island. After six months of duty there I received orders to the USCG Cutter Courier stationed near the Island of Rhodes, Greece for an 18 month deployment. This was a great duty station for a young guy of 25. The Cutter Courier was a floating transmitter ship owned by the USIA for the Voice of America and run by the Coast Guard. My first assignment as an ET3 was in the relay room on the upper deck of the ship. The technician on duty had to manage the program content sent to the transmitter room. The programming consisted of transmitting in eight languages, 10 hours a day, seven days a week. The technician on duty also had the responsibility of keeping the VHF link receiving antenna pointed to the receiving site on Rhodes. In the event that the VHF link should fail, the Collins HF receivers in the relay room had to be tuned to at least two other VOA relay stations that were relaying the same program. The duty ET also played the station ID tapes in the proper language such as "This Is The Voice of America, Rhodes." After my promotion to ET2 I started standing watch in the transmitter room. The station consisted of three transmitters, two 35 KW Collins shortwave transmitters, and one RCA 150 KW Medium Wave transmitter operating on 1259 KHz in the broadcast band. The ET on duty had the job of keeping the three transmitters on the air. I soon put in for a Greek Ham license, and after several months I received an operating license from the Greek government with the call sign of SVØWG. One of the VOA engineers was kind enough to lend me a Gonset mobile receiver that covered 20 meters, and an ARC-5 transmitter I converted to 20 meters for CW operation running 50 W. I got the VFO to cover the 20 meter band so I wouldn't be stuck on one frequency with a crystal. With the VFO I could cruise around the CW band and look for stations to call. I was the only Ham operating on Rhodes so I was "Rare DX."
The picture below shows me sitting at the Audio Console in the Transmitter Room of the USCGC Courier. I am watching the VU meters, listening to the program quality, and the hum of the three transmitters. I could tell when something was wrong by the sound the transmitters made. The transmitter in front of me is the 150 KW RCA broadcast transmitter operating on 1259 KHz. When a transmitter went off the air, it cost the VOA $1,000 a minute. Needless to say I kept the outage as short as possible on my watch. Late one evening I was standing watch alone when I heard a loud "CLUNK" from one of the transmitters. I knew it was one of the Collins 35 KW transmitters by the noise it made, so I looked to see which one had shut down. It was the Starboard Collins that had tripped off line due to a failed driver tube. I punched off the power, opened the bay door, carefully removed the hot tube and installed a new driver tube. After applying power to the filament circuits for a few minutes, high power was applied and the transmitter was back on the air with a minimum of off air time. I made a log entry of the outage and resumed my watch.
USCGC Courier Transmitter Room showing the port Collins 207B1 35 Kw HF Transmitter and the RCA BT-105 150 Kw water cooled Medium Wave Transmitter operating on 1259 KHz in the AM Broadcast Band. The Audio Patch Panel from the Relay Room and the Audio Console for the three Transmitters are also shown in the photograph. You could eat off the floor it was so clean!
View of the Transmitter Room showing the Audio Consule for the three transmitters on the Cutter Courier. The telephone on the side of the desk was used to communicate with the AC Room when there was a change in power required. I do not know the name of the techninian on duty at the desk.
The Cutter Courier's Call Sign was NFKW shown here painted in red on the Flight Deck. The two red structures on the foredeck of the Courier are the Port and Starboard Trylon Antennas used by the two Collins 207B1 35 Kw HF Transmitters. The wire leading to the forward mast and to the insulators shown in the bottom center of the photograph is part of the Inverted Delta Antenna for the 150 KW RCA BT-105 Transmitter. The wire in the center of the square hole in the Flight Deck leads down to the Antenna Matching Network for the 150 KW RCA BT-105 Transmitter.
The Cutter Courier tied up at the dock on a calm day. The Cutter contained the most powerful communications radio transmitter ever installed on board a ship (150 KW). She holds the record for the longest deployment overseas - from 17 July 1952 to 13 August 1964. Our liberty boat was a LCVP, (Higgins Boat) that can be seen in the water along side the Courier and the Captain's Gig is being hoisted on board by a crane.
A few of my favorite photographs of Rhodes.
After my 18 month tour of duty on the Cutter Courier, I served the last six months of my enlistment at the San Diego Coast Guard Air Station working on small boat Radar systems, communications equipment, aids to navigation, and was a crew member on a 40 foot Coast Guard Patrol Boat, the Coast Guard's "Hot Rod" of the seas. After a long hot busy day working in the ET lab, or doing a repair job on a ship or traveling on the road to a repair site, being a crew member on the 40 footer patrolling San Diego Bay in the evening after my normal duty hours was a welcome diversion.
The USCGC Courier WTR-410 (1966-1972) The Cutter Courier was recommissioned into the Coast Guard at Yorktown, Virginia on 30 April 1966. Here the Courier's missison was to serve as a mobile operational training platform with qualified personnel attached. Her small boats were used to train reservists in harbor patrols while her cargo handling equipment was employed to train reservists in handling dangerous cargoes.
San Diego State University
I graduated from San Diego State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Technology in 1994.
SDSU Aztesc, Monty Montezuma Mascot
Semper Paratus--Born Ready!
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