Lawrence R. 'Larry' Eicher
QCWA # 36252
Ham radio has slowly evolved with me over the years. My family moved from Corning, NY to Winter Park, Florida in 1952 when I was 10 years old. The husband of an elementary school teacher was my first contact with ham radio. His call was K4JZQ and his name Cecil Kelley. CK gave me my first taste of ham radio but with high school, college at the University of Florida, and other priorities, I didn't take my Novice exam until 1983 when working for the U.S. State Department. In the interim I was a Peace Corps Volunteer to Turkey from 1964-66 in Kayseri where I taught English as a foreign language to Turkish middle school children, both boys and girls, and then went on to get my MA degree from Georgetown University in Washington, DC. It was at Georgetown that I met my wife Vicky and we both entered the diplomatic service.
I worked in the diplomatic field for almost 30 years, with assignments to Turkey, Costa Rica, Ghana, Nigeria, Egypt and South Africa, as well as many TDY assignments to almost all countries of Central and South America, as well as the Caribbean. As with most diplomats, we found working in Washington, DC to be the real hardship post.
While overseas as KB4EPK I was given reciprocal license privileges in both Ghana and Nigeria, with call signs 9G1TL and 5N0WRE respectively. Today hearing pileups on the bands bring back many fond memories of the pileups when I was the hunted. I have always enjoyed DX contacts, but upon my return to the States in 1995 I set aside my ham radio for other pursuits. However, I never let my license lapse, always hoping to come back to the hobby. Upon retirement we moved to Charlottesville, Virginia where a local ham Ron K4RKA encouraged me to upgrade my license and get active on the air. This has now been accomplished and currently I'm operating low power using a buddie dipole and Icom 718 transceiver. My hope for next year is to rig a long wire dipole in the trees on my property and to finally increase power with a new amplifier. I'm always delighted to hear DX stations and will make every effort to contact a DX station, even though my competition of fellow hams usually out-gun me with large amplifiers and beams. Having been off the air for so long makes one feel like Rip Van Winkle. The many options and technological advances in ham radio are truly astounding.
Recently I applied for a vanity call sign under FCC rules and requested the call sign K4JZQ. My old Elmer, CK, passed away in 2002 so his call has expired and not been re-assigned. My decision to request that call sign was in respect for a man who first got me interested in ham radio and what it can do for friendship around the world. I sought CK's son's approval for this request and he happily concurred in my application. I hope to continue to honor CK's memory by making additional friends throughout the world via ham radio.
Some hams have asked about the photo of me releasing an immature female eagle at the Alaska Raptor Center in Sitka, Alaska. My wife and I have done volunteer work at that raptor center for 6 out of the last 10 years. Sitka is a beautiful little town and I highly recommend anyone to give it a visit. Raptors are brought into the center when injured and are treated and hopefully able to return to the Wild. The happiest day in the town's life is when an eagle release day is announced. Half the town and tourists gather to watch the event. Note that I am wearing welder gloves and a leather coat, and the eagle was hooded until take off time. This was a young female eagle, less than 5 years because her head still had not turned white. Her wingspan was almost 7 feet across but most female eagles easily are larger than the male counterparts. You will note that my release position is more forward but this eagle decided to veer hard left as she left my hands and put in her afterburners straight over my XYL, Vicky, who was taking this photograph. To have a large eagle coming straight over your head with razor sharp talons at the ready can be intimidating, but through it all Vicky kept clicking away. The series of photos shows the eagle going over Vicky's head as she lay on the ground and in the final frame only a single feather is seen slowly floating lazily down to earth. That bird was 'outta there" and we wished her God speed.
73's Larry K4JZQ
April 30, 2015