Navy-Marine Corps MARS in Vietnam

Up AI8AIR Pictures



Alpha India Eight Alpha India Romeo

1265th AACS Sq, 2165th CS  Taipei, Taiwan 1962 - 1965

1876th Comm Sq, Tan Son Nhut Airbase , RVN 1965 - 1973

Jack Stoner     Richard Newsom    Sal Negro

Jack Stoner


I was in charge of the Air Force MARS station in Taipei, Taiwan  before it was moved to Vietnam.  I was "given" the MARS station to set up, get on the air.  I was the only one in the squadron with a (US) Amateur Radio license (W5DVO at the time).  The station had the Eldico SSB Transmitter and Receiver setup (copy of Collins S line) and a BC610 transmitter that had been converted to a linear amp. Back to top


Richard Newsom

E-4 1/71 – 1/72


I became a ham radio operator in 1964 as a high school freshman. I joined the local MARS group in Memphis TN and did a little of this & that.  When I went to college in 1966 I dropped my activities.  I got drafted in 1968 and joined the Air Force to avoid Vietnam (ha ha) I went direct to duty from basic training to the MARS station at Brooks AFB, TX.  I worked there for the months until my basic squadron finished tech school then was sent to Vietnam along with the entire group in January 1969.  I was assigned to 19 TASS and was a radio operator in the field attached to the army in ALO/FAC.  Flew a lot of rear seat in O-1 bird dogs and did some clandestine ham contacts from Vietnam back to the States from my field sites at An Loc, Bin Son, and other forward sites.  Some times I was with Aussies, sometimes with 1st Air Cav, some times with the 5th Special Forces at B and A sites.  I went stateside from 8-70 to 12-70 to Topeka KS. I went back to Vietnam as a MARS op in JAN 1971, until separation in Jan 1972.  Ran a lot of phone patches, and since I was a tech type ham, I modified the GRT-12 amplifiers at Saigon and at Monkey Mountain (DaNang) to run 4Kw instead of the original design of 2Kw.  This helped a lot when conditions were marginal.  I got flown around a little to help the other MARS stations when they wanted to sneak mod's into the equipment.  I liked my time in Vietnam but I had a bad attitude according to the Air Force so I got out when my time was up.  I did a little MARS since then but things have changed so much that it just doesn't seem to matter anymore. 

Got married to a Vietnamese girl in 1972.  It lasted 9 years, but she finally got fed up of sharing me with my ham radio (I got fed up with sharing her with her boyfriend!) I think I learned a lot from my ham that I applied to MARS in Vietnam , then when I came back I went to the Rockwell Station AFC6YPX in Anaheim CA and visited with the MARS ops there.  Talked to Barry Goldwater a few times at AFA7UGA and wanted to visit but didn't have the money to go there after my separation in 1972.  I did a lot more in my FAC-Forward Air Control work with Rod FACS and Special Forces but that's not MARS. I'll try to send some of my pictures but times are rough now.  Seems that the Post War Stress didn't hit me hard till my kids grew up and I was left alone to myself.  Most of the bad things that happened have now been dealt with but I'm now poor as a mouse and live month to month.  Had a lot of things to get over from those 4 years, took 30 years to find out that it had screwed me up in a lot of ways.  Now, I'm at least able to deal with what happened and why.  Some never had the chance to get past it all.  Now I work for a defense contractor making microwave uplink equipment so that the guys in the field can pick up a phone & call home from anywhere, anytime.  I just hope no one has to go to someone else’s hell for political policy.  We made life bearable for some of the guys 30 years ago, I'm hoping that my children's children won't have to do the same.      Back to Top


Sal Negro


Entered the USAF in January 1958 and was assigned as a Ground Radio Operator.  During my almost thirty (30) years in the USAF I was assigned to quite a few Communications Organizations at which I was either assigned to or operated a USAF MARS Station.  The most memorable MARS assignment was at Tan Son Nhut AB RVN from 1967 to 1968.  That station was the Net Control Station (NCS) for all USAF MARS stations operating from both Vietnam and Thailand, and as such had to ensure that stations were operating within established regulations as well as complete phone patches for military personnel in-country.  The station completed thousands of patches within that one year, thanks to a crew of dedicated Radio Operators.  Most of our phone patches were run through AFA7UGA, (Barry Goldwater) Flagstaff, Arizona.

The tour of duty in Vietnam was especially rewarding as I was awarded the first "MARS Certificate of Accomplishment", issued by Headquarters Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV) and signed by General William Westmoreland, (recently deceased). There were many instances of both tragedy and joy that were monitored during the phone patches. I can remember one instance where an Army Infantry private came out of the field on a pre-arranged day, to be married over the MARS phone patch Network.

Presently I have the privilege to be serving as the USAF Florida and Puerto Rico State MARS Director. There are over one hundred (100) volunteer MARS Affiliates who dedicate their time and equipment to serve MARS. Although our emphasis is no longer on Health Welfare and Morale Communications, we have assumed an equally important mandate which is providing Emergency Communications whenever and wherever needed. I wish that it was possible for me to recall all of the dedicated Radio Operators that I have had the privilege of serving with over my career, but alas time has dimmed my memory somewhat.

 Back to top