In Honor of Jerry Martin, W6TQF, and Reid Blackburn, KA7AMF
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In Memory of the Sacrifice Jerry Martin, W6TQF, and Reid Blackburn, KA7AMF

In the spring of 1980,  Mount St. Helens' volcano in Washington state started to have small tremors.  As emergency plans were made, radio amateurs were asked for assistance in providing communications.  Amongst the over 300  hams who volunteered to help their state were Jerry Martin, W6TQF and Reid Blackburn, KA7AMF.  Both were members of the Radio Amateur Emergency Service (RACES) and Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES).  Jerry and Reid went into the field to help the U.S. Geological Service (USGS) and National Geographic Society set up remote cameras in order to make scientific observations.  This routine continued for several months. 

On May 18, 1980, Sunday, 8:32am, Mt. St. Helens errupted.  Jerry was at his post 10 miles from the volcano using the tactical callsign "Coldwater 2."  He radioed in the emergency to Washington Emergency Service Headquarters that the volcano had errupted.  Contact was lost with Jerry within a few minutes.  His observation post was later found to have been destroyed by the molten volcanic ash and mudflows.  Jerry's body was never recovered.  He was presumed dead.  

Reid was a few miles closer to Mt. St. Helens than Jerry.  No signal was recieved from him.  Later that afternoon a helicopter found his car burning in several feet of smoldering volcanic ash.  It was not safe to recover Reid's body for three days. 

The eruption had an estimated equivalent to a 10 megaton nuclear weapon.  The top 1,300 feet of the volcano was blown off.  The clouds of volcanic ash reached 60,000 feet.  The northwest U.S. was covered in several inches of volcanic ash. On June 12, 1980. three weeks after the eruption, Portland, Oregon's airport, one state away, had to be closed due to clouds of volcanic ash interfering with safe air travel. 

By the end of the operations hams passed over 3,000 messages.  

We normally do not think of ham radio as some thing one can die from.  Jerry and Reid made the ultimate sacrifice by using ham radio to help their state which put them in harm's way. 

Please remember Jerry and Reid for their honorable deeds.   

 

Note: If you knew Jerry or Reid please email Cliff Cheng, PhD, KI6CM, ki6cm --at-- arrl.net (convert --at-- to @)  Do you know anything more about this story?  Do you have any rememberances of Jerry or Reid?  Do you have any pictures?