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Amateur Radio Operators Talk To Soldiers

By Pamela Perez
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Saturday, May 27, 2006

Dressed in an Army uniform, Staff Sgt. Pam McGill sat outside a Wal-Mart Super Center Saturday poised to listen to a greeting from a 10-year-old boy in Springfield, Ill., on the other end of a Ham radio.

Two years ago, Amateur Radio Military Appreciation Day began as a national event, but Saturday marked the first time it was in Palm Beach County.

Throughout the day, members of the West Palm Beach Amateur Radio Club attempted to broadcast messages between civilians and military officers stationed all over the world.

Although the shoppers weren't family members, the messages were still cherished.

"When you're overseas, you think about home at least twice a week," said Staff Sgt. Pam McGill, an Army recruiter whose tours of duty included Germany, Bosnia and Korea in the last 17 years. "Most of the (civilian) people want to say thank you. That really makes you feel good about what you do."

The Ham radio might be considered the military equivalent of a cellphone because it can establish communication from remote areas, McGill said. Early-morning shoppers were able to be connected to places such as Germany and Baghdad from outside the Wal-Mart in suburban West Palm Beach and the Golden Corral restaurant in Royal Palm Beach, where another operation was set up.