38 years of service, and counting!
In mid September 1978, over 35 years ago, the Western Amateur Radio Association (WARA) was established. Some changes have occurred over the years but the club remains strong and respected in the amateur radio community. This mark in time brings about an opportunity to print some history of the club; so, without further adieu, here is the story of WARA:
Back in the beginning, Mike Sahadi N6ME (sk), taught a radio amateur class at Cerritos Junior College in Norwalk. Most of the students in the class obtained amateur radio licenses as a result of the course. The class was so successful that many of the students formed a radio club at the school. The club became known as the Falcon Amateur Radio Club. That group, in conjunction with their other activities, set up a repeater on 220 MHz. However, the class and radio club were stopped in 1978 because of the effects of Proposition 13,a state measure that restricted the way state funds could be used.
Mike, N6ME and others from the Falcon Amateur Radio Club group worked on their own to set up another repeater. After considerable research and at substantial cost, particularly to Mike, N6ME, a suitable location was found in the Fullerton Hills. Equipment was acquired and the N6ME 2-meter repeater became a reality on July 26, 1978. The repeater was the first one in California (and possibly the country) to operate in the lower half of the 2-meter band.
The next step was to form a new radio club. The first general meeting of the Western Amateur Radio Association was held on September 19, 1978 at a restaurant in Cerritos. During that meeting twenty-seven persons signed up as charter members, the club name was chosen, and club officers were selected. Mike N6ME became the first President. WARA (pronounced "wah-rah") was born! Later the club began meeting in the city of Cerritos where it remained based for many years. In 1996, due to a shift in club demographics (most members resided in Orange County), the general meetings were moved from place to place until the regular meeting location at Carl's Jr Restaurant on Harbor Boulevard in Anaheim was established later that year.
The club was comprised of persons interested in all aspects of amateur radio but their work continued on the new repeater. In March 1979 the 220 MHz repeater was established and linked to the 2-meter repeater. The WARA repeaters were the first in California to have the "cross-band" capability. As years passed, the auto-patch system was added and a 6-meter repeater was set up and also linked to the repeaters.
WARA's members and repeaters have provided public service during a number of emergencies and events. Less than a year after the 2-meter repeater was established, it was used to provide emergency communications during the severe hundred-year storm that struck southern California in 1979. One of the most notable emergency communications events occurred during the mid 1980's when a Mexicanna DC-9 airliner collided with a smaller airplane and both planes crashed in the city of Cerritos. Many WARA members, including Gene Thorpe KB6CMO, worked for days to provide emergency communications and to aid those that lost their homes during that disaster. WARA members have provided public service communications for numerous non-emergency events too, large and small, such as the recent Leona Divide 50-Mile Endurance Runs coordinated by Dino Darling KX6D.
And, it has not been all work and no play! WARA has had, and continues to have, programs and club events of every type for the enjoyment and education of its members. Programs have been on everything, from astronomy to presentations by a FCC representative to technical programs that help members become better acquainted with this fascinating hobby. The club has even conducted radio classes at a public school which resulted in several students and a teacher obtaining their licenses. Among the primary club events is the ARRL's Field Day, a yearly event that provides an opportunity for "every" member to have fun working with others while improving the emergency preparedness of the club in general. In fact, the club has had considerable success with the Field Day event, taking second place in the nation in class 5A on the first try and first place several times after that. In between the big events there have been the other fun activities such as the Pizza Busts, Transmitter Hunts, Saturday Breakfasts, etc., ....all a part of helping members have time together and keeping the club strong.
In conclusion, as a member, you step into and become a part of WARA's respectable history. There are many that have given a great deal of time and effort (and money) to create what exists today, ....a radio amateur club that is suitable for young and old alike, that values its members, and whose repeaters remain available for emergency communications.
Dick Holmes, WX6C (SK)
The preceding was written by Dick Holmes in 1998. Dick is now a silent key and will be missed. His comments are accurate and kept on this site as a dedication to his memory.