George's (N7TQZ) Adventures in GTMO
In November 1991, I went to Guantanamo Bay (GTMO), Cuba, with the 504th MP Bn.
I had taken a Galaxy II, a converted radio for ten meters, and a two meter
handheld radio. I was a Technician - we didn't have no-code Techs or Tech Plus
at that time. On December 3, I was issued the call of KG4QZ. I was surprised
to learn that I now had Extra class privileges. I was pretty disappointed that
I didn't take my Collins KWM-2A. I joined the GARC (Guantanamo Amateur Radio Club)
and had access to a Kenwood TS-530SP Radio.
Conditions was very good on 10 meters and I was able to keep in contact with my friends at Fort Lewis and W2USA. I met a lot of people on the radio and there was a few that I kept in contact with during my stay in GTMO. I pretty much worked 10 meters from my bunk, and when time allowed, I went to the radio club to work 20 meters. I had bragging rights as I was the only active duty Army ham on the island at the time.
After about two months of working the bands, my commander asked me how many states and countries I had worked. I was pretty close to working all states and I had a few countries as well. I decided to try to work all of the states. I was addicted to the pile-ups. It seemed as though I had a real following. I was on a lot of DX clusters around the country. I caused a pile-up one day as I was talking to some school kids in Maryland - they had a ham showing them about amateur radio. It was a thrill to talk to these kids.When I was done, I moved to another frequency, and worked quite a few stations.
I was glad to get off of switchboard watch so I could hit the radio. I did spend time playing volleyball at the beach, as well as playing cards, but I was real happy to get on the radio. My last state for working all states was South Dakota. I made that contact one day before we had to pack up and return to Fort Lewis. I worked all 50 states and 22 other countries. The radio club gave me a stack of QSL cards so I could send out cards to those that sent me one. I made little stickers with my callsign to put on the cards. A bit tacky, but it worked for me.
When I returned back to Fort Lewis in March 1992, there was a huge stack of QSL cards waiting for me. It took me three weeks to get through it all. It was worth it. On my wall in my ham shack is a card from each state and a few of the countries that I had worked. That trip to GTMO also made me want to upgrade as soon as possible. And upgrade I did! I miss the thrill of being the one causing a DX pile-up.
I still have not counted the actual number of contacts to this day.
My QSL Card Courtesy of KG4AN