A group of ham radio enthusiasts didn’t let a little cold weather stop them from honoring veterans, specifically Marine Lance Cpl. Zack T. Addington, on Sunday at Clermont City Park.
“I think it’s turned out a lot better than I thought it would,” Lanierland Amateur Radio Club President Mike Hall said. “This morning when we were sitting here freezing I thought ‘nobody’s gonna come. Do we really want to do this?’ We talked about it, and I said ‘we did it to honor a veteran. I think we need to stay.’ As the morning went on people started coming in.”
The club set up ham radios for people in the community to communicate with people around the world from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Veterans Day.
Those who made contact with the club were offered a card featuring Addington’s photo to commemorate the event. Addington was a Clermont native who was killed in May 1968 while serving in the Vietnam War.
“The neat thing is, and we didn’t exactly plan this, but somebody reminded us that on Veterans Day, 11 o’clock is the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, so we had a moment of silence,” Hall said. “A gentleman who was here earlier was a minister, so we asked him to lead us in prayer, then we pledged the flag. We found out how many veterans we had, and one of the fellas went around and thanked everybody for their service. It was just a little beautiful ceremony that we did around here.”
Ham radio has been used by American soldiers as a means to communicate, and Hall said he thinks that bringing attention to ham radio is another way to pay tribute to them.
“Altogether today we’ve had four ham operators who were veterans, and we’ve talked to a number a veterans. They’ll tell us they appreciate that we’re doing this,” Hall said. “...a lot of ham operators are veterans and may have gotten into ham radio because of doing radio in service.”
According to Larry Tyson, vice president of the club, they contacted over 62 people over the course of the event, including people in Canada and England.
Outside of paying tribute to veterans, the club hopes the event helped raise awareness to ham radio as a method of communication even in the digital age.
Club member John Brandon explained that ham radio is still used in disaster events like tornados or just when people are in need of assistance, adding that he once used his ham radio when he found a broken down truck one evening.
“I called the base station, and an operator answered that I knew personally. I got him to make a phone call for us to send help over for them,” Brandon said. “I stayed until they got there then left. It’s worked out real good for me.”
Hall said he thinks the event helped bring together the ham radio community, and he hopes it’s grabbed the attention of some newcomers as well.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” Hall said. “It does attract attention to ham radio.”