Navy-Marine Corps MARS in Vietnam


Bootleg MARS - Chu Lai - 1965


Although I was not an official "MARS" participant, I did have some experiences with MARS.

This is a picture of a TCS-15 communications center that was used as a MARS station in early 1965 in Chu Lai at FLSG B. I was a Radio Tech and the TSC 15 was my "baby". Tuned up on SSB we put out well over a KW of power and used to contact the "states" for phone patches, usually at night RVN time.

I don't remember any of the MARS guys names but until they got their station up, we used the TSC gear for a couple of months. I had been running bootleg phone patches as a "Maritime Mobil in the South China Sea" before that to contact hams in the US to phone patch guys home. After it went "legal" and the MARS station was set up, all the fun went out of it.

In the picture, you can see the "waiting room" chair outside the van. The original antenna was a whip on a bamboo tower that we built with local materials. On SSB on a good night, we could get to the east coast of the US almost anytime on the 10 meter band. At first I used to work the airwaves from 2AM until 6AM and ran as many as 20 calls a night, but the word was getting around too much and the chance of getting "busted" was getting to be too great so I cut back to an irregular schedule.

Sgt. J. M. Drobniak, USMC 1962-1968