Randal Mays , KG5IEE

Let me start by thanking Bruce K8UDH for nominating me for CWops and to my sponsors: Tom W0FN, Tom WA9CW, Steve WD4CFN, and Joe KK5NA. All of these were my CW Academy Advisors. Bruce was advisor for my Beginner class about 1 ½ years ago.

I grew up in a really small town in North Louisiana and graduated from Louisiana Tech University in Ruston, La. After school, I had a very rewarding 35-year career with Junior Achievement, an education non-profit organization. The last 20 years were in Fort Worth, Texas running the Chisholm Trail Region. In 2018 I retired, and being a country boy at heart, I was ready to get out of the big city. I moved to Marshall, Texas, which is a small town in East Texas close to the Louisiana line. Got me closer to friends and family. I bought a place out of town on 15 heavily wooded acres. Peaceful, low noise floor, and no neighbors or HOA.

My early interest in radio came from my dad, who was the radio dispatcher for a small, rural sheriff’s department in North Louisiana. These were the good old days when his four-year old son could come to the radio room and hang out during his 3:30 to midnight shift. I remember the old Motorola radio and the big desk mic. Not much traffic came over it, but it was exciting when my dad reached over and gave a 10-4 to someone. At midnight, my dad turned off the radio, turned out the lights, and locked the door. The sheriff’s office was closed till 6:00 a.m. Those were the days!

I had always maintained a fascination with radio communications, so in 2015 I decided to get my HAM license. At the time, my interest lay in SSB communications and I really enjoyed the first few years. But I wanted a new challenge, and I noticed that the CW operators at Field Day seemed to be special. So, when I retired, I signed up for CW Academy. I progressed through Beginner, Basic, Intermediate, and Advanced. I found CW to be a challenge but also a very rewarding adventure.

I reconnected with my Beginner Advisor, Bruce K8UDH, when I came across him working the Giving Back program. We had a nice QSO and that led to a weekly SKED. This fall Bruce asked me to serve as Associate Advisor for his Beginner Class. I realized early on that I wanted to be a CWA advisor and help new CW operators get started on their journey. I found CWA to be a great group of HAMS and I have made lifelong friends. I still do a SKED three times a week with two of the other students from my CWA Beginner Class, Bob KD5NDQ and Dan KE0SSV.

I look forward to working many of you on the bands, when the sun finally wakes up again.