The Traveling Man HAM

Geary McDowell

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Thank you page.

This is one of those pages that could go on and on,
but I will try to keep it to less than one thousand lines long.

My mother probably is responsible for my primary interest. She had a great deal of respect for storms. They did not really frighten her, but she was very careful of them. Hence growing up, I spent most of my nights during my elementary school life in a storm shelter with most of the rest of our small rural southwestern Oklahoma community. Then I spent my secondary school years out in a family vehicle with a "non-citizens" band radio and "non-HAM" band watching and reporting back to her what the storms were doing. We had the opportunity traveling in the family business years after that to experience severe storms in various parts of the Great Plains; strong winds, funnels, tornadoes, hail up to grapefruit size and jagged that cut through the metal on the machines we hauled, heavy rains so bad you could barely see to end of the vehicle's hood, and any mixture thereof you can imagine.

I mentioned on my "about me" page this adventure had started some 29 years ago or so, depending on exactly when I think about it. The first HAM operator I knew who came into my life was an older gentleman, remember, I was in my mid to late twenties back then. He passed away several years ago. He and I were both members of the same Masonic Lodge in Snyder, OK, USA, Earth, Milky Way. His daughter and I were classmates in high school. She has provided me with his call sign since I started writing this. His name was, silent key, Oliver Meeks (WA5OGC). He encouraged me to learn the Morse Code and get my ticket. We visited a great deal and he knew my electronic knowledge was not a problem. I regret that I will never be able to make a contact with him on the air.

My father-in-law, an ol' (have to be careful here and not use the word OLD) USAF radio operator kept my interest in radio communications over the years. I finally earned my ticket, I wish he would too and once we both have our General tickets, we could converse on the air.

Once I decided to find a class to join so I could study as a group and get the license, I started making friends quickly in Lawton, OK, USA. There was the man responsible for organizing the class, Milton (WB5YZD), and some of the class members; Bruce (KE5IRL, now WX5IRL), Gary (KE5IRJ), John (KE5IRI) who are three I still communicate with on the air, unless I am avoiding them. :)

Once on the air in Lawton, I found that local HAMs were more than willing to help a "new kid on the block", and no I do not dance nor do I sing. My first contact on air was Kenny (N5PYU), who has ended up being my Elmer since Oliver is a silent key. An Elmer is a mentor in HAM talk. I have found Kenny to be one of the most honest men I have spent time with in a long time. He tells you like it is, without being derogatory to others. Kenny and I have spent many, many hours talking about radios, antennas, HAM stuff in general, and just ol' life stuff. I found his wife, Eloise (KB5OJT), a former teacher, also easy to visit with as she and I have a great deal in common in the education field. The more time I spent on the air I also became friends with Jim (N5UJB), who ended up being my 1st contact on HF (high frequency) once I earned my General license, and Bob (K5SET), who are a couple of good ol' country boys with whom I also have a great deal in common. Kenny, Bob and Jim have been around HAM radioing long enough I always learn something from them just by listening to their conversations about radios, whether or not I participate. I have to include Kenneth (KE5GFY) here too. He was the youngest of the bunch as we met at his work site for coffee/breakfast when I was first licensed, hence his nickname "the Kid". He puts up with a bunch of us meeting at a local Whataburger every Saturday morning just to "rag chew" in person. He and I have the opportunity to be on the air a good deal and we are always testing the range of various repeaters and which ones are linked. He is a good Christian kid with family values.

I have joined some local clubs; the Lawton-Fort Sill Amateur Radio Club (LFSARC), the Lawton Independent Repeater Alliance (LIRA) (the weather chase team), and Southwest Oklahoma Amateur Radio Society (SOARS). I have met many wonderful people through each of the these clubs and continually learn from the members. Each has its own distinct purpose which add to my HAMming life. Part of a need in LIRA is to be able to see and be seen on a screen when chasing (politically correct = spotting) storms. Hence the learning process of APRS. Calvin (N5NGN) now a silent key, helped my over the air one night set up my UI-View so I could get use to tracking people using the APRS system. Matt (K5WXL) has tried to help me get the UI-View set up where I can receive the National Weather Service watches and warning as they are issued. Matt is a good guy basically, and an enthusiast about storms as am I. Matt is one who treats people right too, at least in my experiences with him. He is fun to be around and just observe or profile. You know . . . never mind, that gets into my way back history too much. :) Since starting this adventure, I have had the opportunity to spend time with other LIRA members who are a hoot in their own way. Lee, storm team leader (WX5TVS) and Dan (WX5DAN), a KSWO-TV meteorologist who has been a blessing in designing and maintaining our LIRA weather spotting page giving us more efficient and safer tools to help our community.

I thank each person I have named above, you can see there are many, and there are probably many more. There are definitely many more who have been encouraging, especially the gang at Whataburger each Saturday, what a great bunch of HAMs! That even includes: Bruce WX5IRL, Bob K5SET, Ed ?, Eloise KB5OJT, Gary KE5IRJ, George ?, Jim N5UJB, Kenneth KE5GFY, Kenny N5PYU, Matt K5WXL, Bennie N5PLV, Milton WB5YZD, Ray N5IZ, Ron ?, and others, I can see the faces, but in my old age start forgetting names.

73 to one and all,

Geary KE5IRK


You have to know my past to understand,
yes, I know the difference between a cyclone and tornado.

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