I was first licensed in March 1971 at the age of 15 as WN4UKA. Early on, my major interests in ham radio became DXing and contesting. I quickly progressed to General as WB4UKA and joined the Potomac Valley Radio Club. I met lots of great hams in the PVRC and became the 20m operator at the W4BVV contest station. Soon I was off to college at the Virginia Military Institute and operated VMI radio station W4COP. I then graduated with a degree in electrical engineering and spent a short stint in the US Army Signal Corps.
I was fascinated with various countries and cultures at an early age and my Dad said that I told him many times, even before I was 10, that I wanted to travel and live in another country. Working DX improved my geography and opened up the world to me. I thought it was so cool to contact Russian hams during the 70s and 80s along with many others around the world! I moved to the Houston area (KE5JA) and spent the next 25 years as a Senior Electrical Design Engineer for an E&C company working mainly for major oil & chemical companies. When the price of oil shot up to $150 / barrel, I jumped at the opportunity to move over to a major international oil company. This finally gave me a good chance for international travel.
It wasn’t long before I volunteered for an assignment in Sakhalin Island, Russia. Before I left, I could not find any info about getting licensed in Russia, so I just brought along a FLEX 5000 SDR radio to SWL. Once in Russia, I immediately contacted Yuri, RM0F (then RA0FU) who jumped at the chance to help me and within two weeks, I was licensed as R0/KE5JA. This later changed to RA/KE5JA to my dismay when I renewed my license. How confusing trying to tell hams where I was located. It did not take long before I met Igor, RU0FM (now RT0F), and was invited to be an operator at his RT0F super contest station. I was in heaven. I also had a small station at my oil company compound because outdoor antennas were not allowed (I secretly put up an OCF dipole) until my last year when I finally received permission to put up a small tower and hex beam. I had a great five years in Russia and was always welcomed and very well accepted by all locals and Sakhalin hams.
I next volunteered for an assignment in Saudi Arabia. It seemed I always wanted to go to the “hardship” locations that none of my colleagues were interested in. My company gave me a big house in Bahrain where my wife stayed as I worked for 5 days / week in Jubail, Saudi Arabia and spent the weekends & holidays in Bahrain. It took me about six months to get my 7Z1JA license in Saudi Arabia and nine months to get my A93JA license in Bahrain. What a blast having two stations at the same time and operating from both countries! My best station was in Bahrain and I still hold the all-time contest records for every contest and category I entered from Bahrain. There were even several contests where I worked the first day from A93JA and next from 7Z1JA. I was on the air for a little over two years and made over 74,000 QSO’s from Bahrain and 29,000 from Saudi Arabia, mostly CW.
My last assignment was in Calgary, Alberta, Canada where I was the Head Electrical and HVAC engineer for the multi-billion dollar LNG Canada Project. I only had a small condo station so I became a regular operator at the super VE6SV contest station. I am now retired in Colorado as K0XF and enjoy hiking and local craft beers.
I feel very fortunate to have lived and operated in several excellent DX countries and to have visited 68 countries in my travels. Ham radio really opened up my horizons and if possible, I am still interested in joining a DXpedition or two. I mainly operate CW and only go to SSB for a rare DX station and/or SSB contest. I do not operate digital.
This biography is what appeared in Solid Copy when the member joined CWops.