The United States
Navy has realized the potential of wireless communication since its
inception. Within 10 days of the United States entry into World War
I the Navy had recruited 1500 of the then more than 6000 licensed Amateur
The Secretary of
the Navy approved the organization of Navy-Marine Corps MARS in August
1962 and the program was implemented on 1 January 1963 complimenting the
Army and Air Force systems.
Both the Navy and Marine Corps had
extensive ham radio operations prior to the inception of MARS.
Marine Corps hams were organized into several nets and handled emergency,
morale and health and welfare messages. Many of the Marine Corps
stations and operators were already members of either the Army or Air
Force MARS programs. In early 1962, 1st Sgt Kinsman Boso at W4NTR,
realizing the potential of the Navy-Marine Corps having their own system
began a newsletter "Zero Beat" which he began distributing to
Marine Corps Amateurs. He also solicited Marines to send him their
license information so that an unofficial list of Marine Corps amateurs
could be compiled and maintained. Through the distribution of
Zero Beat and his card file, Boso maintained a fairly large list of
hams. Once the Navy-Marine Corps program was instituted Boso
encouraged all Marine stations and amateurs to sever other affiliations
and join the Navy-Marine Corps system. In December of 1962 there
were about 29 Marine Corps stations.
December of 1965 saw
permission granted for MARS stations in Vietnam to begin operations.
Also that month, SSgt Harry
Boggs wrote a letter to the Commandant
suggesting a Class B MOS for Marine Corps MARS operators. Marine
amateurs in Okinawa readied equipment for shipment to Vietnam and in most
cases accompanied the equipment to set up the initial MARS stations.
Between the Marine Corps and the Navy all 26
"Expeditionary Forces" (EF) call signs
were used in Vietnam.
CWO Joseph Van Brocklin became the
Marine Corps MARS Liaison Officer, N0ASB. Gunner Van Brocklin was
instrumental in assuring that "Marine Corps" became part of the standard
reference to the program that had initially been referred to as Navy MARS,
constantly encouraging everyone to use the phrase Navy-Marine Corps MARS.
The consummate Marine, he was a wise, genuine leader and a constant
advocate and ally of the Marine amateur. In March of 1968 he
announced that the Commandant had approved the MARS MOS 8981 for Marines.
The Corps became the only service to designate MARS as an Occupational
Specialty. Marines licensed with any class of amateur license could
apply for the secondary MOS. Orders were then issued and tracked
through the Commandant's office via the Marine Corps MARS Liaison Officer.