History of the Fort Lewis Amateur Radio Activity

Timeline    Leadership     Field Day 1995    Silent Key

Listing of the USA Army calls

Some W2USA documents since 1989


This was the original call for the Fort Lewis Amateur Radio Activity. The call lapsed and was not renewed. Details about the club at that time are unknown. It is now a vanity call in use.


UPDATE! From an e-mail from Bert, KA4SBE / V73GOD

Bert Godlewski, KA4SBE is now V73GOD in Kwajalein, Marshall Islands and every once in a while hear the old station on the air. It was a long trip from FT Dix NJ.

Although the dates may be a bit fuzzy after all this time, here's the story. Upon my arrival at FT Lewis in late 1986 I started looking for Club Station W7USA. The station was dead and the license had expired. No one at the Signal Battalion had any idea what I was talking about. The MARS station was housed in a ratty building on North Fort Lewis. Building 3E90 had an impressive antenna field. A rhombic, log periodic and curtain were well in place. The radios were another animal entirely. The Drake TR-7 lines were pretty worn out and there was a backup of old Collins equipment squirreled away in those gray suitcase type containers.

After petitioning the FCC to re-instate W7USA and being turned down I called on the local congressman, Norm Dix. I cited the transient nature of military personnel and the probability that the old trustee was transferred, retired or just forgot. He was probably just appointed by the old Signal Battalion (USACC) Commander. Mr. Dix proved to a rubber stamp for the FCC and like most congressional inquiries, just gave you reason to vote for whoever else is on the ballot. I never did contact the old trustee. I tried callbooks and reverse look-ups but it was fruitless. The Washington State Centennial was coming in 1989 and W7USA was dead.

All was starting to look hopeless when a round of base closures was announced. I remember passing through FT Dix and there was a MARS station there. I had to find out if there was a military amateur station too. A quick trip through the callbook and I was in business. W2USA belonged to FT Dix and K2USA belonged to FT Monmouth. I called the operations officer at USACC FT Dix and introduced myself. I seem to remember his initial apprehension but after a while he agreed to send me a copy of the license. It was ILT Hernandez from FT Dix that got us going. I received the license and submitted a change of trustee followed by a change of address / station location. It seemed very strange to have W2USA on the west coast but the alternative was that it went away entirely. I looked into KL7USA but the trustee in Alaska, Mr. Fred Wegmer, told me I would pry that license from there cold, dead hands. I totally understood and never even thought of KL7USA again.

The sad fact in all this is poor management. USACC never managed their military amateur callsigns and many were lost. Not lost forever thanks to new rules and issuances, but certainly lost to the Army. The USA suffixes belong with the US Army but they remain for a few.

The early members of W2USA or Wa Too Sa included:

Bert Godlewski - KA4SBE
Gary Kohtala - WA7NTF now W7NTF
Steve Sawyer - KC0UH now KT0DX
Andrew Morkunas - N7JRR
MSG John Cooper - can't Remember Callsign
Gary Price was an early member K5VEL

We all put a lot of time and energy into the FT Lewis Amateur Radio Activity, FLARA. We were never a club due to legal definition. As an activity we enjoyed the recreation fund umbrella of the Fort Lewis Directorate of Personnel and Community Activities or DPCA. If we were a club, we'd have to pay rent, power, etc. We did provide a service to the military community.

Once I left active duty Army, I gave up the trustee position. I can count on one hand the number of times I've been back. It was a lot of fun and I'll always smile when I think of how I got that callsign out west.


Thanks for the update, Bert!
George, N7TQZ

Timeline of W2USA

  • The call originated in New York. (Actual date unknown)
  • It was the official call for the 1939 and 1964 World's Fair in New York.
    At the 1939 World's Fair, W2USA was the first club to demonstrate amateur TV.
    Link to 1939 NY World's Fair QSL card
    Link to 1947 W2USA First Army Headquarters QSL Card
    Callsigns for YASME DX-pedition operations/operators:
    W2USA - 1951-1952 by Lloyd (W6KG) and Iris (W6QL) Colvin
  • The call moved to Fort Dix, New Jersey. (Actual date unknown)
  • The call was moved to Fort Lewis in March 1989 by Robert Godlewski, KA4SBE.
  • It was the official Station for the Washington Centennial in 1989.
  • It was also the official station for the Seattle Goodwill Games in 1990.
  • Novice classes started in 1990.
  • W2USA was moved from Building 3E90 to Building 9568 in the Logistics Center in December, 1991.
  • Received a donated Collins KWM-2A in 1992.
  • VE Testing started in 1992. It was a weekly event. After several months, it was scaled back to twice a month.
  • Moved back to Building 3E90 in 1993.
  • The start of the Friday Nite Net on 146.430 on November 4, 1994.
  • Received 15 Log Periodics in 1995.
  • First edition of Sound Waves newsletter on August 1995.
  • The W7NTF repeater (145.41) is located at W2USA in 1996.
  • The start of the Wednesday Night Net on the 145.41 repeater March 26, 1997.
  • The first W2USA homepage was created by Mark Lockwood in 1997.
  • The W7NTF repeater call sign was changed from W7NTF to W2USA on May 7, 1998.
  • The W2USA repeater was taken off the air by Gary, W7NTF, for unreconcilable differences on Jun 17, 1999. Thank you, Gary, for the use of the repeater over the last few years. Contrary to popular belief, it was appreciated by many people.
  • The W2USA Wednesday Night Net moves to 146.43 simplex on Jun 23, 1999.
  • The two standing Log Periodics come down on July 23, 1999. The other 13 Logs left the area during June 1999. They are going back to military service after they go through a refurbish at CSMS in Oregon. Once finished, the National Gaurd will be placing these antennas throughout the US and other countries to augment current communications facilities. Click here to see the pictures of the 2 antennas coming down.
  • Notified of the plan to tear down Building 3E90 (E0390) on September 26, 2001.
  • Last VE Test session in building 3E90 - September 27, 2001.
  • Packing of W2USA equipment from building 3E90 - September 29, 2001.
  • The shelters are picked up, tower taken down, and the truck moved from Building 3E90 - October 4, 2001.
  • We are given a choice of which building we want. I visited the buildings and checked out each area. Hopefully, we will be able to move in to our new home in the very near future. - October 16, 2001
  • November 1, 2002 - Building 3E90 has turned into a training area. For the next few months, the building is assaulted over and over until it is a shell of a building.
  • February 17, 2002 - The phone circuits have been removed from the building - the hard way - as there is a gaping hole where the patch panels used to be. A telephone drop box has been installed to terminate the phone lines.
  • May 2002 - Building 3E90 is no longer standing - it is demolished and has been carted away.
  • July 11, 2002 - After about 10 years of going to after club meetings for coffee and a bite to eat, we moved to in hopes that we can get better service.
  • August 3, 2002 - W2USA is offered space by the Air Force MARS folks. The offer is accepted and shortly after, we start moving in building 830 on McChord Air Force Base.
  • September 20, 2002 - The truck and tower that was stored by the DPCA motorpool at Fort Lewis is moved to McChord by Jim of the DPCA motorpool.
  • September 21, 2002 - The unpacking of the truck - eight days shy of a full year since we packed it up.
  • VE testing resumes at W2USA in December, 2002. For the time being, it is held once a month.
  • February 19, 2004 - The W2USA repeater is back on the air! After a long hiatus, it was shipped out to be repaired. Thanks to Mike, N3KPU for spearheading the project to get the repeater repaired. The repeater is on 145.13 MHz and requires a PL tone of 103.5.
  • On September 1, 2004, the W2USA Wednesday Night Net moves from the 146.43 simplex frequency and goes to our own repeater on 145.13. The Wednesday Night Net started out on a repeater and it is good to see it back on a repeater.
  • November 5, 2004 - W2USA celebrates the ten year anniversary of the Friday Nite Net. George, N7TQZ, has been the host since the first net on November 4, 1994.
  • November 4, 2005 - W2USA celebrates 11 years of the Friday Nite Net. We move to 146.44 and call that our new home. George continues on as net host.

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Leadership of W2USA

The elected board members actual times of office are unknown at this time. These people held various offices during this time.
Robert Godlewski, KA4SBE - President 1989 -1993
Robert Godlewski, KA4SBE - License trustee 1989-1992
John W. Steele, WD7O - License trustee 1993 - 1995
Rodney Pennington, KB7TGH - Treasurer 1994 - 1995
Jeff Rennaker, N7PUI - Hand Reciept Holder 1993 - 1995

George Ftikas, N7TQZ - President
Chad Wagespack, N7UDS - Vice President
Richard Kear, KD6FEA - Secretary
RJ Savey, KC7ICM - Treasurer
Jeff Rennaker, N7PUI - Hand reciept holder
Dick Raverty, N7PFE - License trustee

George Ftikas, N7TQZ - President (January - June)
Dale Brown, KC7ICB - President (June - December)
Chad Wagespack, N7UDS - Vice President
Richard Kear, KD6FEA - Secretary
Mark Lockwood, KK7CU - Treasurer
Frank Escalera, KC7LRP - Hand Reciept Holder
Dick Raverty, N7PFE - License trustee

Chuck Verdon, N5KAV - President
Cy Barnes, KC7GBO - Vice President (January - February)
Dale Brown, KC7ICB - Vice President (February - December)
Shawn Gallant, W7KYV - Secretary
Mark Lockwood, KK7CU - Treasurer
Frank Escalera, KC7LRP - Hand Reciept Holder
Dick Raverty, N7PFE - License trustee

John Steele, N7WK (formerly WD7O) - President
Terry Waters, W7EOD - Vice President
Janet Waters, KD7AJO - Secretary
Trent Bronson, N2OBM - Treasurer
Frank Escalera, KC7LRP - Hand Reciept Holder
Richard Raverty, N7PFE - License trustee

Jan - Jun 1999
John Steele, N7WK - President
Terry Waters, W7EOD - Vice President
George Ftikas, N7TQZ - Secretary
Trent Bronson, N2OBM - Treasurer
Richard Raverty, N7PFE - License Trustee
Frank Escalera, KC7LRP - Hand Reciept Holder

June 17, 1999 - Special election to vote in President, Treasurer and Hand Reciept Holder. John, N7WK, stepped down for health reasons; Trent, N2OBM and Frank, KC7LRP, are both leaving Fort Lewis in the very near future.

Jun 1999 - Feb 2000
Richard Raverty, N7PFE - President
Terry Waters, W7EOD - Vice President
George Ftikas, N7TQZ - Secretary
Jerry Espada, W7IEW - Treasurer
Richard Raverty, N7PFE - License Trustee
Terry Waters, W7EOD - Hand Reciept Holder

Feb 2000 - Dec 2000
George Ftikas N7TQZ - President
Garry Miller, KB7ZDS - Vice President
David Stilwell, KD7EMZ - Secretary
Jerry Espada, W7IEW - Treasurer
Richard Raverty N7PFE - License Trustee
Frank Escalera, KC7LRP - Hand Reciept Holder

Dec 2000 - May 2001
David Stilwell, AC7KP - President
Pat Keyport, W7PAK - Vice President
Richard Kear, KD6FEA - Secretary
Jerry Espada, W7IEW - Treasurer
Frank Escalera, AC7LR - Hand Reciept Holder
George Ftikas, N7TQZ - License Trustee

May 2001 - August 2001
David Stilwell, AC7KP - President
Garry Miller, KB7ZDS - Vice President
Richard Kear, KD6FEA - Secretary
Jerry Espada, W7IEW - Treasurer
Frank Escalera, AC7LR - Hand Reciept Holder
George Ftikas, N7TQZ - License Trustee

August 2001 - December 2002
David Stilwell, AC7KP - President
Garry Miller, KB7ZDS - Vice President
Richard Kear, KD6FEA - Secretary
George Ftikas, N7TQZ - Treasurer
Frank Escalera, AC7LR - Hand Reciept Holder
George Ftikas, N7TQZ - License Trustee

December 2002 - December 2003
David Stilwell, AC7KP - President
Garry Miller, KB7ZDS - Vice President
Richard Kear, KD6FEA - Secretary
George Ftikas, N7TQZ - Treasurer
Frank Escalera, AC7LR - Hand Reciept Holder
George Ftikas, N7TQZ - License Trustee

Other Members Duties (Past):
Webpage Caretaker - Mark Lockwood, KK7CU
W2USA Repeater (145.41) - Gary Kohtala, W7NTF

Current Board Members of FLARA are:
  • President - Garry Miller, KB7ZDS
  • Vice President - Richard Kear, KD6FEA
  • Secretary - Mike Ping, N3KPU
  • Treasurer - George Ftikas, N7TQZ
  • Hand Reciept Holder - Frank Escalera, AC7LR
  • License Trustee - George Ftikas, N7TQZ
Other Members Duties (Current):
  • Webpage Caretaker - George Ftikas N7TQZ

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Some pictures from Field Day 1995

Clicking the following links will open a new browser window. Close the new window to get back here.

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Silent Key

Dale E. Brown, KC7ICB.
July 22, 1931 - August 30, 2001
Dale was licensed on January 12, 1995 and joined W2USA in shortly thereafter. He was the President of W2USA from June to December 1996 as well as the Vice President in 1997. Dale was active in Army MARS. He was a hard working club member and his gentle and kind spirit will be forever missed.

Cyrus (Cy) D. Barnes, KC7GBO.
April 7, 1919 - January 27, 2002
Cy was licensed on October 18, 1994 and joined W2USA shortly thereafter. He was the Vice President of W2USA from January to February 1997. I can honestly say that he had the best sounding 2 meter setup in the Tacoma area. His homemade J-pole was a true work of art. His gentle spirit will be forever missed.

Joseph Bushnell, WA7BLE.
November 26, 1925 - November 9, 2002
Even though Joe was not a member of W2USA, he was part of our VE team and a staunch supporter of the W2USA VE team. His cool head and thoughtful ways kept the VE team running smoothly. His great mind and kind spirit will be forever missed.

Major (Retired) James Friend Elliott, AA7OH.
September 21, 1935 - January 28, 2009
Jim was a member of W2USA for a while and a longtime Volunteer Examiner. He ran the code room testing for many years and finally ran the entire test session for a while. His dedication to his duty showed through and he helped build the image of the W2USA VE team. He would also bring in other VE's and put them to work. We had folks that would travel for hours to take their test with us. He had 162 test sessions under his belt. For a person called himself "too cantankerous", he was a sweet and gentle soul with a great sense of humor and a dedication to helping a friend.

He was one of my elmers when I got into amateur radio in 1991, and he was a mentor when I got my VE credentials in December 1992. He helped many people and donated a lot to our club. He was very active with the Capital Peak Repeater. He leaves a huge hole in the ham community. In my own humble tribute, I dedicated the January 30th W2USA Friday Nite Net to Jim. Rest in peace, Jim. You are missed.

Hugh Flournoy, N7TET.
March 2, 1940 - April 19, 2009
I have known Hugh for almost 20 years, having met him on the air in December 1989 - on CB. He helped me get my Collins KWM-2A in running shape. As CB was getting a lot of interference, those of us that had gathered on the frequency drifted off and met up later on amateur radio. Even though he presented a tough exterior, he was kind and caring, often asking about my family - especially when my wife had a lot of health issues.

Hugh was an avid supporter of W2USA. He was a regular check-in on the W2USA Friday Nite Net, and always offered any equipment he had if the club was planning for events like Field Day. Even as his health deteriorated, he made an appearance to our Field Day. I dedicated the April 24th W2USA Friday Nite Net to Hugh. Rest in peace, my friend. You leave a void in our world and will be truly missed.

Ted C. Axtell, W7TED.
1945 - March 10, 2012
I have known Ted since his call was KC7LBR. Ted was very involved in the communications aspect for Search and Rescue TAC Unit as well as Amateur Radio Emergency Services. He worked with the NB7N repeater as well as his own. He also worked with the W7TED packet systems as well as with SSTV. Even with all of those things, he still found time to work on other radios. He took on the task of working on one of my radios - one that I had bought the day my daughter was born. Unfortunately, with his passing, he was not able to complete the repair.

Ted's last W2USA Friday Nite Net check in was on December 2, 2011. I always enjoyed having him check in. He seemed to be interested in a myriad of things. When I was rebuilding my son's Mustang II Ghia, we would often lose track of time talking about cars, and when we took the car to car shows, he would always ask about it and he thought it was so cool that my son and I enjoyed the car hobby together. Ted's infectious smile, seemingly boundless energy, and willingness to help anyone will be greatly missed. I dedicated the March 16th W2USA Friday Nite Net to Ted. Rest in peace, Ted.

Jerrel (Jerry) A. Smith, W7SJA.
March 18, 1934 - March 2, 2018
On November 8, 2012, Jerry came in to take a Technician test with us. A few months later, he passed the Extra test and got his Volunteer Examiner (VE) credentials and joined the team. Jerry would help out on the special testing events, as well as our regularly scheduled testing, projects, and events at the clubhouse. For the "crusty old man" exterior he portrayed, he was a real down to earth and caring individual. He was genuinely interested in the other folks lives. I think he was just as proud of my daughter as I was when I told the stories of our visit to her Air Force BCT graduation. Jerry's health declined a few months before he passed. I would visit him at the hospital whenever he was admitted. I, and the rest of the core W2USA crew, will miss his infectious laugh, his caring and kind ways, and his wisdom. The frequency we hang out on is a lot quieter now and that is a bit painful. May you rest in peace, Jerry.

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This page is still in development, and facts are still being gathered. More pictures will be added in the near future. Watch for the changes. If you have some information to add to this page, please send comments to : George, N7TQZ

Last update: 03/26/18

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