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History of the Mississippi Coast Amateur Radio Association


On  September 15, 1971 the Mississippi Coast Amateur Radio Association held its first organizational meeting.  This meeting was the product of the hard work of John W5PDG, Vic WA5SUE (now N5YY), Elaine WB5BVP, Tom WA5KYB to name just a few.  At this first meeting Jerry Murphy K8YUW/5 made a motion to form an amateur radio club.  This motion was seconded by Bill Appleby WN5DCY.  This motion was passed unanimously.  the steering committee appointed to prepare a proposed constitution was made up of, Jerry Murphy K8YUW/5, Don Plowman WA5FDP, Lee Turner WA5EZO, Clyde Crowder WB5BWN, Mike Larson W5QDN, Lee Kowrack W5RWV, Tom Best WB5AFX and John Grafton WB5AHL.  

The steering committee’s first report was in October OF 1971, and the second report was made in November.  At that time Mike Larson W5QDN, made a motion for ratification of the constitution.  The motion was seconded by Charles Littlepage WB5GOI and passed unanimously.  The first permanent officers were elected at this meeting and were installed at the January 1972 meeting.  The first permanent officers were: 

President John Grafton WB5AHL

Vice President Don Plowman WA5FDP

Secretary Charles Littlepage WB5GOI

Treasurer Bill Appleby WN5DCY

Activities Managers Jerry Murphy K8YUW/5 & Fred Taylor K5QBU

Past President John Belham W5PDG


The club’s first permanent meeting place was the auditorium of the Entex Corporation building in Gulfport, Mississippi. In March 1972 the club hosted a picnic for the Mississippi Sideband Net at the Navy Base in Gulfport, Mississippi with members of the net, their families and guest from throughout the state in attendance.


The first Field Day held by the club was on June 24-25 1972 at the old POW Camp in DeSoto National Forest. Chairman for the event was Fred Taylor K5QBU. Four stations were manned by 28 participants who made 1173 contact for a total score of 2696 points.  


A swap fest and picnic was held in October at the Big Biloxi Recreation Area then a Christmas party was held to celebrate the club’s first year.


On September 21,1974 brought the licensing of the club 146.730 repeater, WR5AFE with Fred Taylor K5QBU as trustee. The licensing was the work of Bruce WB5EHI, John W5PDG, Tom WB5AXF, Jim WB5LCW, Fred K5QBU, Joe W5VLE and Don WA5FDP to name a few.  The station became operational in December.  


In 1975 Field day under the chairmanship of Fred Taylor K5QBU the club for the first time was the leader in Mississippi in total points for it’s class.


On October 23, 1977 the MCARA held it’s first Ham Fest at the International Plaza in Biloxi, MS with Irvin Kelly K5YIN as chairman. The event was a very big success. The Ham Fests were to continue for another 20 years with the last ham fest being held in 1997.


MCARA has been involved in many activities and events through out it’s history. The club is known for it’s emergency communication capabilities which played a crucial role during Hurricane Katrina in August 2005 by providing the only reliable communications to the outside world from the Gulf Coast area.  


Other areas of involvement for the club have included training and testing of new and already licensed operators. MCARA also participated in many Special Events and contests throughout the years.


A Brief History of our Repeater


The local repeater was first licensed in 1974 as WR5AFB and was located in Gulfport, MS.  Its founders were John Belham WA5PDG, Trustee, and Fred Taylor K5QBU.  The justification for a repeater became evident with the growing use of the 2 meter band along the Gulf Coast and the need for extending the range of 2 meter operations in this area. 


The repeater’s first location was on the cable TV tower in Gulfport.  However conditions forced the location to change in 1986 and the repeater went silent until 1987. At that time club president Joe Butler, then K5JB (later K5OS), arranged for the present site at the cable TV tower in North Biloxi.


When the repeater returned to the air in 1987 it was still K5OS but with a new control operator, Pete Heuser KC5IF.  Also, autopatch was introduced that year in memory of Tom Braidwood W5BW, who was un questionably the dean of amateur radio operators on the Gulf Coast.  Tom was first licensed in about 1914.


The repeater call sign remained unchanged until 1991 when it became KC5IF.  Pete has had the responsibility for keeping the repeater on the air for the past 16 years and we all owe him a debt of gratitude for his hard work and dedication.  


In 2004 the repeater’s call sign changed to it’s present call of W5SGL to honor Walter Daniels, a Silent Key, for his dedication to the club.


In 2021 the club voted to replace the old repeater which had a failing controller, with a donated brand new Yaesu System Fusion DR-2X repeater which is currently not connected to Wires-X, or any other form of internet linking. However, the repeater is monitorable by listening to it via in both FM and C4FM Digital.


This history is made up from “A Brief History of The Mississippi Coast Amateur Radio Association” supplied by Ernie Orman W5OXA and edited by Joe Littlepage WE5Y.   Also from available club minutes of the club from 1972 to 2011.  Harry Samuelson, KB9ZR, PIO, MCARA