Navy-Marine Corps MARS in Vietnam

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November Zero Romeo Sierra November

NCS Phillipines, San Miguel, RP

Jack Cleavenger Jr, USN, N0RSN 1974-1975

Started working with MARS while stationed at the Naval Communications Station, San Miguel Philippines. Started out just for something to do on my off time, in between my regular radio watches. The most exciting call I remember patching was one of a young private in the U. S. Marines who had called home and found out that he was a proud father of a boy. Time and time again, the thing that kept me going was a excitement in all my callers voices. I feel that just hearing the joy that these calls made is what kept me working with MARS. On the flip side of the coin, there were times that I had to fight to operate. Case in point, while station on a destroyer, my CO did not want MARS running on his ship. Even though I was his Radio Chief and assured him there would be no interference, he still rejected MARS. Hurricane HUGO in 1989 changed his mind. The fleet was told to leave Charleston, South Carolina and head to sea. We came back in port behind the hurricane. The Cooper River had been blocked by a sunken civilian freighter, all the navigation were blown off station and had to be replaced by the U. S. Coast Guard prior to us returning home. We set just miles off shore watching local tv for news of how bad it was. Everyone was glued to the TV just hoping to get a glimpse of their neighborhods. During all this mess, MARS was fired up and the CO talked to his wife and within hours had called to check on all the ships crew's families. The CO became a believer in MARS that day.

I am still active in radio. I recently renewed my radio ticket. I still need to upgrade, but I getting there. I also run 11 meters at home and in my truck as well. Staying on 36LSB, sideband callsign Alfa Romeo 199. MARS operations probably affected me the most in the sense that it got me through some rough times overseas. It helped me when I would have been bored and it helped bring laughter and joy to so many people. I can't count the people that called back later, just to say "Thank You" for bringing them closer to their families back in the states. THAT is what made it worth it all!!


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