I have always been interested in radio and electronics My dad stirred my interest in radio as he would repair family tube type radios for family and friends as a hobby. He along with some older men would talk about ham radio but dad never became a ham. So naturally I became interested. As a teen in the 1970's I was a Citizens Band CB operator with the call sign of KAZF-6519 and the handle of Ky. Walking Tall. In my early days as a volunteer fire fighter in Paintsville Kentucky we used CB radio with the fire department as a means of communications on channel one. It was not untilf 1978 that I was introduced to ham radio. I had read many books on the subject most of which were very tecnical in nature.
In December of 1978 the Paintsville Lake and Dam was under construction. A earthen dam known as a coffer dam was built to hold back water during the construction of the permanent dam. During the second week of December within a 24 hour period of time the Paintsville area was inundated with over over nine inches of rainfall which caused the cofferdam to begin to erode. As a safety measure the Civil Defense now (Emergency Management) ordered an evacuation of the City of Paintsville with CD's temporary headquarters being based at the Paintsville Wholesale Grocery south of Paintsville.
It was while volunteering at Civil Defense headquarters as a volunteer coordinating shelter supplies for the various shelters being established that I had my first exposure to ham radio. Bill Martin Martin W4JKY (now silent Key) was bringing in radios along with others and stringing up wire which I learned was a dipole antenna. My exp[erience on cb was using either a vertical antena,a moonraker beam or a vertical on a car.I asked him about the dipole antenna and he said you can talk world wide on a piece of wire. He further said hang around and you can see it in operation. I was estatic and this complimented my assignment of supplies at CD headquarters. Mr. Martin introduced me to several other ham radio operators including Jim Daniels K4LCK and his future wife Bertha KA4DRI. Bertha was a newly licensed ham.Alo former Navy recruiter from Paintsville by the name of Norm Green who traveled from Virginia to assist with ham radio communications during this incident. I also met Fred Jones during this incident and became best of friends as a result of this.
Norm as well as other hams could see the spark of ham radio was ignited within me. He asked me if I would listen to the radio while he took a power nap. The operators were using mr. Martins call sign of W4JKY as net control sign for this operation. So while Norm was enjoying his power nap around 5:00am the next morning I heard the call letters of W4JKY coming from the radio. so I woke up Norm and told him and he made contact with the station. THe station was from Arizona and wanted to know the whereabouts of a family in Paintsville. I might add phone service was spotty due to telephone service being manually switched was sparse due to the entire city being evacuated leaving noone to man the switching network at the phone office. Being a a native of Paintsville I was able to help locate the family and Norm was able to rlay the status of the family back to the station in Arizona who passed the info to the party requesting the information. This was my first experience of Health and Welfare Traffic. I was definitely hooked on becoming a ham. The dam incident was mitigated with no casualties or loss of properties due to a well organized effort of volunteers from various disciplines including ham radio.
My interest was in ham radio was running high but I had to put it on the back burner while attending college. While at Eastern Kentucky University I met a fellow student by the name of Wade Bevins WA4OBL who was a ham. Many times after class we would go to his room and operate two meters from his dorm room using a mobile antenna,crystall controlled rig and a a group of charged motorcycle batteries as a power source. Also while at EKU he introduced me to Gene Robbins station engineer of WEKU FM who was also a ham. While at Eastern I pursued a degree in Broadcast and CATV engineering. and passed my first class radio telephone license. I still was not a ham.
The week after I graduated from Eastern in 1983 Dad ran into Richard Conley W4JTB who invited dad and I to attend the license class that was starting in Paintsville. Dad attended but did not pursue a ticket but I did and my first license was a novice ticket with the call of KB4IIE. THe following spring I passed my technician class and was granted the call of N4KJU The week prior to passing my technician class I made a cw contact with my friend Wade from college who resides in Pineville Ky.I took my technician class license exam under a FCC Examiner in Charleston Wva and the remainder of my exams under volunteer examiners because of the switch to a VE program by the FCC. Don Castle KI4NL,Ron Castle KI4NM and Don's Father N4KJQ traveled to Charleston for the exam. These hams inspired me,loaned me equipment to help me get started. In addition to these I ran into several of the operators who were at Civil Defense headquarters in 1978. Ittook several years before I moved up the ladder to my present class of license which is extra class. I decided to keep my call of N4KJU and use some clever phonetics which is Norwegians,For,King,James Umbrella.
Since my beginnings in ham radio I have done many things within the hobby and many things yet to pursue. I have worked all fifty states confirmed,worked all continents, worked 200 countries toward my DXCC and worked over 50% of the counties within the continental United States using different modes of Amateur Radio Communications. I even served as a relay station for Hurricane Katrina and several Ky disasters. Also was founding president of the Paintsville Amateur Radiom Club and served as Emrgency Coordinator and District Emerergency Coordinator for ham radio through the ARRL. In addition to this I enjoy biulding antennas and ham shack related accesories ,operating field Day and mountaintopping. My favorite part is igniting the fire in a prospective ham and mentoring that individual.
In closing lets continue to mentor individuals, keep the hobby alive,develop new technologies and keep igniting the spark that began a 100 plus years as a spark gap,