March 4, 2024

This Week in Amateur Radio

North America's Premiere Amateur Radio News Magazine

US Coast Guard

“I love you…Over.”

For those serving in Vietnam, the only way to stay in touch with family was by using the Military Affiliate Radio System. MARS stations, supporting all branches of the service, were established throughout Vietnam, as well as aboard ship. These stations utilized ham radio operators and a phone patch linked system which allowed a radio signal to travel from Vietnam to the U.S.

Master Chief Petty Officer ATCM Dave Disbennett was stationed at Coast Guard Air Station Barber’s Point, Hawaii, between 1967 and 1969. 

Utilizing a spare bedroom as a ham radio room, Disbennett used the MARS system with the help of the ship’s ham radio operator. Back in the U.S. mainland, his wife Carol worked with the phone operator to connect to her husband.

Their calls were limited to a very brief three to five minutes. The family receiving the call would have to accept a collect call to begin a conversation.