Navy-Marine Corps MARS in Vietnam

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November Zero Echo Foxtrot Tango

5th Marine Regiment, An Hoa, RVN

 Amateur call N0EFT belongs to Ignacy J Justyna and expires in 2012.

David Lee Foster, N0EFT, 3/70 - 7/70

I entered the Marine Corps in Jul 1968 and attended Basis Electronic School, Telephone Teletype repair and Radio Relay.  While at MCRD, San Diego I learned of the MARS program and visited the station as I was a licensed amateur (WA2BQT).  After being transferred to 29 Palms, CA I assisted in phone patches with Cpl. Ernie Young and ran K6MCA.  I first received orders for MARS duty with Barstow, Ca. and met Jim Kuhl, Bill Biggs and others at the station.  With the untimely death of Bill Biggs, I was transferred to WESTPAC and was sent, inadvertently, to An Hoa where I worked at the FSB with Division Recon.  I handled phone patches back to Dick Norris at N0EFD via a PRC25.  The patches were made for Recon Team Eagle, a TRAP (Tactical Recovery of Aircraft Personnel) unit.  One member was a friend of Jim Kuhl and had served with him on his first tour when Jim was with "Springwheat"After a brief stint at Camp Reasoner, I was "found" by MARS and was sent to N0EFD at DaNang just above Freedom Hill and worked with Dick Norris.  Utilizing teletype repair, I went to N0EFB at 1st MAW at DaNang until I rotated back to the States.  While in RVN, I visited or worked at various installations including N0EFJ with Lee.  Upon my return stateside, I worked at HQMC @ N0MHH, Henderson Hall with Wes Armstrong. 

Best memory I have is a young Marine pilot arranging for his R&R with his wife and telling her she should be sure to have a mattress strapped to her rear when arriving at Hawaii. OVER! You better be the first one off the plane, came the reply from his wife.    

Overall, I have very fond and warm memories of working with a great group of people, using outstanding Collins gear and Henry amps, and having the time of my life at 20 years of age.  Some of the friendships have lasted to date.  As I went on to college, law school and began to practice and teach I continually encountered operators, users, etc.  In looking back, I feel we provided a lot of comfort at a difficult time and had a great deal of fun doing it.  From working with a Rhombic mounted on 90 foot telephone poles at DaNang to a YAGI on top of a fuel storage tank (also at DaNang) to running radio relay phone patches thru a PRC25 back to An Hoa for Recon (N0EFT), it was fun. Today, I look back and really appreciate "it was the best of times and it was the worst of times". 

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