NHQ, Alexandria, VA (06/28/2018) – In 1988, Major Patrick E. McPherson (WW9E-SK) created the Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network or SATERN. It initially consisted of just four Salvationists from the U.S. and Canada – McPherson, Art Evans (N9KQ), Ernie Reid (VE3BIX) and Harold Gibson (VE3NKU). It was formed to be a group of EDS responders who are licensed amateur radio operators committed to providing The Salvation Army and the communities it serves with emergency and auxiliary communications.
On Saturday, 25 June 1988, these four SATERN operators conducted the very first SATERN Net. A SATERN Net is an on-the-air gathering of SATERN amateur radio operators on a specific radio frequency to communicate with each other for purpose of training, exercise. fellowship or in the event of an actual disaster. Two months after that first Net, the fledgling SATERN group went on-the-air to provide life-saving communications between the United States and the island nation of Jamaica after it was hit by Hurricane Gilbert.
In the ensuing 30 years, SATERN grew from those four operators to over 4,200 worldwide who regularly meet on a variety of SATERN Nets at the local, divisional, territorial, national and international levels. Besides Hurricane Gilbert (1988), SATERN has supported operations for the Mississippi River Flood (1993), the Red River Valley / Grand Forks Flood (1997), The Izmit, Turkey, earthquake (1999), and Hurricanes Mitch (1998), Fabian (2003), Charlie, Francis, Ivan and Jeanne (2004), Katrina, Rita and Wilma (2005), Gustav and Ike (2008) and Isaac (2012). SATERN also became active in many local disasters such as the Plainfield (IL) tornado (1990), the southern Minnesota tornadoes (1998), and numerous others. It was most recently on-the-air for 22 days straight to support the people of Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria in 2017.
This year the National SATERN Committee decided to conduct a SATERN 30th Anniversary Net Rally from Monday 25 June 2018 through Sunday, 08 July 2018. The idea was to celebrate SATERN’s 30th Anniversary of serving The Salvation Army and the communities it serves around the world through its many Net operations.
National SATERN Liaison Bill Feist (WB8BZH) reports, “The SATERN 30th Anniversary Net Rally was a major success. It succeeded in its dual goals of celebrating the 30th Anniversary of Maj. Patrick McPherson, WW9E founding SATERN and increasing the amateur radio community’s awareness of, and participation in, SATERN and its’ many SATERN Nets.”
According to Ken Gilliland (AG6SV), Net Manager for the International SATERN SSB (Voice) Net and National SATERN Committee Statistician, there was a total of 1,050 check-ins from at least 399 unique stations on 10 different Nets. The check-in from the longest distance was a WinLink (radio email) check-in from Paris. There were 38 operators who have qualified for a special certificate for having made 8 or more check-ins. All of the amateur radio operators who checked in will get a commemorative QSL card from WW9E which recently became the official call sign for USA National Headquarters in memory of Maj. McPherson who was Promoted to Glory (or became a Silent Key in amateur radio nomenclature) in May of 2016.
Feist said, “It is clear that the Net Rally increased awareness of, and participation in, some of the SATERN Nets over those two weeks. The statistical analysis shows that the International SATERN SSB Net had a 33% increase in average net activity those two weeks. The International SATERN Digital Net had a 39% increase while the Western Territory Net had aa 9.4% increase. The local Concord, CA, net had a 5.3% increase.”
There were also several nets in the Kansas-Western Missouri (KWM) Division that participated. However, Gilliland had no previous statistics from those nets and could not say whether there was an increase in activity or not.
Feist also stated that there was a “noticeable increase of over 100% in SATERN registrations” on the national EDS database over that two week period as well.
Feist said, “I want to thank the National SATERN Committee – particularly Ken Gilliland, AG6SV- for the hard work done in planning and implementing this event. But more importantly, I want to thank all of the SATERN operators and the Amateur Radio community in general for its support of SATERN during our 30th Anniversary. This is a great testimonial to Maj. Pat’s vision for amateur radio’s support of The Salvation Army.”About The Salvation Army