W4ZC - February 28, 2002
President 1996 - 1998

John J. 'Jack' Kelleher
QCWA # 6045

W4ZC(SK)John J. "Jack" Kelleher, W4ZC, SK: Quarter Century Wireless Association Past President Jack Kelleher, W4ZC, of Silver Spring, Maryland, died February 28, following a long illness. He was 87.

A native of New Jersey, Kelleher was first licensed in 1932 as W2DSV and was employed by the communications industry. During the 1940s while working for the Signal Corps Laboratories, he was assigned to a White House Secret Service detail to install VHF-FM mobile and base station radios for presidential communications--a project that often took him on the road with President Franklin Roosevelt's entourage.

Kelleher was a charter member and past president and officer of QCWA Chapter 91 in the Washington, DC, area, and he served as QCWA president in 1996 and 1997. He also was an ARRL Life Member and a member of the A-1 Operator Club. A service was held March 4.

His wife, Margaret, has invited memorial contributions to the Max Jacobson-John Kelleher QCWA Family Scholarship Fund, c/o QCWA, PO Box 3247, Framingham, MA 01705-3247.

--some information from QCWA and The Washington Post

Jack Kelleher and Radio grew up in the Years before WW II
When I was growing up in Red Bank, NJ, radio broadcasting was in its infancy. My mother and I got our first radio receiver in 1926 when I was 12. I began listening not only for entertainment, but also to identify and verify reception of as many stations as possible, the more distant the better.

A friend of my mother had a son, Edgar, who was also interested in radio. Edgar and I found out how to make Ford spark coil transmitters, and we had a ball sending slow, awkward code across town, inadvertently jamming many broadcast receivers in the process.

Ed knew a number of local hams, particularly Bob Johnson, W2AWL, whose father owned WJBI, a 100-watt, daytime-only broadcast station on 1210 kHz serving the area around Red Bank. Bob built a 75-meter amateur station in the WJBI building that he operated at night after WJBI went off the air.

I became serious about learning the code in 1931, and so I built a 3-tube receiver using 230 and 233 tubes with filaments that operated from dry batteries. A couple of commercial stations, one on either side of the 40-meter band, were good for copy practice: XDA in Mexico City at about 7400 kHz, and HPC in Panama City on 6997.5 kHz.

In February 1932, I took the General Class exam at the Federal Building in NY, 4 months before finishing high school. My first call was W2DSV. My first rig was a crystal-controlled oscillator using a pair of 210s, my first antenna was a 66 ft end-fed Zepp about 20 feet up, and my first contact was a station in Perth Amboy about 20 miles away.

Another ham friend was Harold "Church" Churchill, W2ZC, long since a Silent Key. Church's family was well-to-do, and he had an outstanding rig in a 'shack' that was formerly a servant's residence. The final in his rig used a pair of 861s and a tilting-arc mercury vapor rectifier.

Army Signal Corps, 1932 - 37
My mother and I had a friend at Fort Monmouth, a sergeant named James Devine, who was almost a father to me. Jimmie convinced us that my enlisting in the Army Signal Corps was a good idea: it would relieve my mother of the financial burden of supporting me, and it would give me a practical education in living and in radio.

When I signed up, the fellow behind me turned out to be a ham, too - Robert H. Scruggs, W4BFP, from Birmingham, AL. We soon collected another ham friend, Harvey Young, W8GHL, from Pennsylvania. Harvey, Bob, and I rented a room just off the post in Oceanport, NJ, in which to do our hamming, and I acquired a new call, W5FIP.

In February 1933, I was assigned to battalion radio school at Fort Monmouth, NJ. There, we mostly operated a low-power radio station (WTW) to develop our skills as CW operators. Practice traffic was exchanged with similar stations on Governors Island and in Washington DC. I progressed from 10 wpm to 30 wpm in a few months.

In June, I was assigned to station WVB serving the Headquarters for the 8th Corps Area at Fort Sam Houston. The operating room was in the quadrangle at Ft. Sam, the latter being a combined fortress and headquarters dating from shortly after the Civil War. The inner courtyard included a small herd of half-tame deer and a few peacocks.

WVB had 6 operating positions. Our net included WAR, the headquarters station in Washington, DC, several stations within the 8th Corps Area, and a couple outside the area for air traffic control purposes: March Field, CA, and Barksdale Field, LA. The major circuit was the one to Washington, active about ten hours a day. The frequencies used were 13,125 kHz from WVB to WAR, and 12,060 or 12,075 kHz from WAR to WVB.

All War Department traffic was handled manually - sent with a Vibroplex, received by ear at speeds up to 40 wpm or more and typed out on a 'mill.' The mill was an Underwood Model 5 typewriter without a carriage shift since the all-cap characters were printed on a paper tape. Later, a keyboard machine with a perforated tape reader replaced the Vibroplex.

I discovered that each post, camp, and station in the Army had a quota of two students to the Signal Corps School. I took the exam and was one of the two successful candidates from Fort Sam Houston, so I moved back to Fort Monmouth in August 1934. There, I attended school 7 hours a day, 5 days a week, for 39 weeks. During Morse code training periods, skilled CW operators were put to work transcribing automatically inked intercept tapes of transmissions made by Japanese stations using Kata-Kana code.

In June 1936, I returned to Fort Sam Houston to become a transmitter attendant. The transmitter site had 90-foot telephone poles supporting a couple of rhombic antennas and several wire antennas, including a multi-wire flat-top for a 250 watt, medium frequency transmitter. There were also two 125-foot square, tapered towers to support a four-element lazy-H horizontal beam pointed towards Washington.

The 250 watt rig transmitted at frequencies below the AM broadcast band and was used for intrastate communications. The static at these frequencies was horrendous, necessitating use of a penetrating signal. A modulated (120 cycle) CW tone was chosen as the signal to be keyed and was produced using partially filtered power supplies. A 10 kW Westinghouse rig had a water-cooled amplifier and was the primary link with Washington, DC. The remaining transmitters were six 500-watt rig and a GE 1-kW rig.

During my stay at WVB, the receiving room was upgraded. Equipment racks were installed along two walls, a supervisory position in the center, and two operating positions along the south wall. The racks contained Hammarlund Pro receivers and homebuilt monitors for the outgoing signals. Eugene Berato and I built the monitors.

One Sunday we tuned up the 10 kW transmitter to the amateur 20 meter band and fed the lazy-H a few CQs. Boy, did we get responses! We got chicken after the first few QSOs and never tried that again.

In 1937, I was ordered back to Ft. Monmouth, promoted to corporal, and made an instructor. However, it had become obvious that Mother needed more financial support than I was able to provide on a military salary, so I took steps "buy out" before my enlistment was up.

RCA Communications, 1937 - 40
I found a much-better-paying job with RCA Communications in New York City working alternate day, evening, and night shifts. I commuted the 70 mile round trip from Red Bank each day.

The RCAC job was a window on the world as far as hot news was concerned. Radio was the principal means for foreign correspondents in the U.S., and for U.S. correspondents abroad, to file news reports, so we saw all the scoops. We were the first to know of the Hindenberg disaster at Lakehurst NJ in May 1937, and we saw the gradual cessation of communications with countries overrun at the start of World War II.

The German Blitzkrieg in 1939 generated a flood of messages and money transfers to eastern European relatives. This traffic became so voluminous that when propagation conditions permitted, several operators were punching tape simultaneously and these were sent at very high speed, on the order of 250 wpm. Finally, all communications with Poland were lost.

In 1940, the Communications Workers of America unionized RCAC and then went out on strike for more pay. I was told to man the picket lines, which I did. During our idle times, we were treated to performances by Ukrainian dancers and the like. The strike was settled, but management stated that, henceforth, there would be no merit raises as in the past. Employees would get only what the union won from management. I decided to look for employment elsewhere.

Living next to Fort Monmouth, one could see that activity there, especially at the Signal Corps Laboratories, was increasing as another world war was developing, so I found a job as a Radio Mechanic there. My initial assignment was with the Radio Maintenance & Test Section where we kept test equipment in specs and readied new tactical equipment for field-testing. At the time, the Signal Corps was developing new tactical equipment to replace older equipment, some which had been around since WW I.

From late 1940 until spring 1941, I was assigned to the Vehicular Radio Section which was kept busy overseeing the development of new VHF equipment designed for use in tactical vehicles and in tanks. It used the new frequency modulation (FM) technique invented in 1933 by E. H. Armstrong, and Major Armstrong was a frequent visitor to our facility. The upshot of this work was that War Department orders for VHF AM equipment were changed to call for FM instead.

I installed SCR-508s, which were VHF FM units designed for use in the Army's tanks, and tested them for range, signal capture, etc. Similar tests for the Field Artillery Board at Fort Bragg and the Infantry Board at Fort Benning were conducted. The sets were found acceptable and were used extensively in WW II.

Hamming it up in Red Bank, NJ, 1937 - 41
After moving back to Red Bank, W2DSV was back on the air with a master-oscillator, power-amplifier (MOPA) transmitter and a 3-tube, home-built, AC-powered receiver. My antennas were primarily Zepps, conveniently fed at the house end with home-made balanced feeders. For spacers, I bought wooden dowels and boiled them in paraffin.

One fun project was a variable frequency oscillator (VFO), followed by a buffer amplifier and frequency quadrupler, and powered by a voltage-regulated power supply. The VFO operated in a narrow part of the AM broadcast band so I could use broadcast stations as frequency-markers to calibrate it. The VFO's output, when multiplied, covered most of the CW segments at 80, 40, and 20 meters and always produced good signal reports.

In 1940, I bought my first manufactured receiver, a National NC-80X, and still later a Hammarlund HQ-120-X. By 1941, I had worked about 50 countries on all continents.

Next in the series: Helping to Protect President Franklin Roosevelt
In the fall of 1941, the U.S. Secret Service asked the Chief Signal Officer to help them modernize presidential communications, and I was assigned to a White House Detail of the Secret Service to install VHF FM police-type mobiles and base stations. We were away more than we were at home - Washington, Poughkeepsie, Hyde Park, Warm Springs - almost anywhere the President went, we went too!

Part II: The War Years
Upgrading Protective Communications for FDR

"During the summer of 1941, the Secret Service contacted the Signal Corps for assistance in updating protective communications for President Roosevelt. For the rest of '41, we were away more than we were at home - almost anywhere the President went, we went, too. We slept more than one night on the floor of one of the vans housing a large HF ground station that we used to communicate with local police and with our own net of hand-helds, the SCR-536."

December 1941: Japanese attack Pearl Harbor
"On the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor, I was sent to Washington and attached to a military unit called the White House Signal Detachment, and now the White House Communications Agency."

"Soon we began installing Motorola police VHF transmitter and receivers in more Secret Service vehicles and installing base stations for the mobiles. One criterion for the VHF net was to have continuous communications while traveling between Washington and Hyde Park NY, the President's home. A 1-ton panel truck was located in a field on a ridge just north of the Susquehanna River that allowed us to communicate with Washington and with the Secret Service office in Philadelphia. Philly could communicate with New York, and New York could communicate with a station in a barn on the Roosevelt estate."

"Early in 1942 the White House car fleet was augmented with several Lincoln Zephyr sedans that had armor plate in strategic locations, including the floor of the trunk. Before taking delivery, I went to Detroit to show the Ford people where to torch holes for the Motorola radio mounts and for access holes for control lines and antenna leads."

In the spring of 1942, the rest of the group from the Labs was sent home, but Jack remained to act as liaison between the Labs and the White House Signal Detachment. Jack was reclassified from Radio Mechanic to Radio Engineer and transferred to the Office of the Chief Signal Officer. "I married Charlotte in July 1942, we had one son, and I was faced with a growing workload at the office." Consequently, radio as a hobby was all but forgotten until well after the end of the war.

Providing Communications for President Roosevelt's Railroad Train
"In the spring 1942, the Army Transportation Corps acquired from the B&O Railroad a combination passenger and baggage car (#1401) that we equipped with HF and VHF equipment and antennas. The antennas were a particular problem because railroad regulations required protection from overhead wires on electrified railroad lines. Our solution was to encase the antennas in Bakelite pipe supported by HV glass insulators with mounting fixtures for attaching to the roof of the car. I did a lot of the work myself while car 1401 was parked on a siding in Baltimore."

"In September 1942, the President made a tour of defense plants to boost morale and see first-hand what was going on in the war effort. Car 1401 was attached to his train, and I was the CW operator for the trip. We traveled about 9000 miles in two weeks. The receivers were a Hammarlund Super Pro and a BC-342 tactical receiver. The 342 was mounted on vehicular shock mounts, assuming the vibrations on a train and in a vehicle would have similar vibration patterns. Not so! The BC-342 practically jumped off the desk until we removed the shock mount and hard-mounted the receiver."

Providing Trunk Communications for General Eisenhower in North Africa
"The Allies invaded North Africa in the fall of 1942 and established Allied Force headquarters (AFHQ) in Algiers with General Eisenhower in command. Needed was a trunk-line system extending eastward from AFHQ so that Eisenhower could communicate with AFHQ no matter where he was."

"The mission was deemed so important that the team and the equipment were not to be separated, and so we and 30 large crates were scheduled out of Brooklyn Navy Yard on the SS Santa Maria. We left January 14th and, as we got out into open water, found that we were one of 18 vessels, with an escort of a battleship, a cruiser, and about ten destroyers. One group went south with the American escort, and our group went on with a smaller escort of 6 corvettes and 2 English destroyers. Our final destination was Algiers."

"On January 31, we boarded a C-47 and flew to Algiers at low altitude as the C-47 was unarmed, and Italian fighters patrolled the coast. My work alternated between installing vehicular equipment and modifying British teletypewriter equipment for multi-link operation. After the equipment was operational and the forward terminals were in place, I operated the terminal machine at AFHQ from about noon until 10 pm daily. We experienced a number of air raids, as Algiers was the principal supply port for NATO. The anti-aircraft defenses were massive, consisting of 90- and 12-mm cannon and multiple rocket launchers ('egg crates')."

"I received a Commendation for Meritorious Civilian Service for the North African operation."

Planning for the Signal Corps Future
Upon returning from North Africa, "I was assigned to the Radio Section of the Communications Branch in the R&D Division. Life settled down to a relatively routine existence supervising R&D projects, budgeting, securing authority for service tests."

"At the end of WW II, the radio relay lineup consisted of the VHF AN/TRC-1/3/4 series, UHF AN/TRC-5 and AN/TRC-8, -11, and -12, and SHF AN/TRC-6. Many technological advances had been made since these were designed in the early 1940s, and I became involved in working out an ambitious R&D program for newer equipment."

"I was one of several Army members on the Joint Army-Navy Committee to agree on design and procurement specifications for a single VHF installation for Army and Navy aircraft, but the matter was never fully resolved. The Army had been committed to RCA for such equipment since the beginning of WW II, and the Navy used Collins equipment. Neither was willing to give way to the other."

"During the war there was a high-level civilian advisory group -- the National Defense Research Committee (NDRC) -- the purpose of which was to provide the best scientific and industrial brainpower for the war effort. It was continued after the war reporting directly to the newly created DOD as the Research and Development Board. I was the Army representative to a couple of the groups, notably the Panel on Antennas and Propagation. In this group I met such notables as Prof. Henry Booker of Cornell, Prof. Andy Longacre of the U. of Illinois, Prof. Ed Jordan of Ohio State, Dr. Lester Van Atta of NRL and Phil Carter and Harold Beverage of RCA."

"In 1947, the first post-war World Administrative Radio Conference (WARC) of the ITU took place in Atlantic City, NJ. The Conference was primarily to extend frequency allocations far above their pre-war limit of 300 MHz. The military worked behind the scenes to see that new service allocations did not unduly compromise the use of new military equipment. I did some support work for the US participants in the conference."

"One consequence was that I was designated a Department of the Army representative on the Frequency Allocation Panel of the Joint Communication Electronics Committee."

Jack rises as a Civilian in the Signal Corps
"In 1953, I became Chief Engineer, Radar Section of the Communications Branch. Army "think tanks" were studying this air defense problem: In case of a saturation attack, how is available anti-aircraft fire distributed to optimize the defense? How does one protect friendly aircraft as they approach and enter the target area? "These studies envisaged a fire-direction system with radar displays of friendly and hostile aircraft from which controllers could direct missile fire on the closest hostiles, avoid engaging friendlies, and optimize the defense. The Signal Corps embarked on the development of fire direction systems, and I became the program manager."

"The overall ground-to-air defense complex became a bone of contention between the Army and the Air Force concerning the protection of friendly aircraft. This and other aspects of the air defense program led to my participation in numerous briefings to the Army General Staff and comparable individuals in the USAF. The Signal Corps R&D program led to the installation of the first fire direction system - called Missile Master - to coordinate the fire of the 20 NIKE missile batteries surrounding the Washington - Baltimore area."

"In 1957, I was made Assistant Chief of the Electronics Branch which added direction finding, countermeasures, and counter-countermeasures equipment to my responsibilities."

"In May 1960, I became Chief of the Air Defense and Countermeasures Branch and received a Dept. of the Army decoration for Meritorious Civilian Service."

"In February 1962, I became Chief of the Communications Branch, but my aspirations for a GS-16 were stymied by my lack of a college education, so I began to look for another position outside DoD."

Jack joins NASA, 1962 - 1969
"I was offered the position of Chief, Communications Satellite operations in NASA's Office of Applications and went to work on August 19, 1962. The principal NASA field activity for communications was Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt MD, and I visited Goddard frequently. The communications satellite programs included

Echo, Mylar balloons 100 and 135 feet in diameter funded and built by Bell Labs

Relay, an active repeater designed by RCA under contract to NASA

TELSTAR, an active repeater funded and built by Bell Labs

SYNCOM, an active geostationary satellite built by Hughes under contract to NASA

TELSTAR I, the first non-military active repeater communications satellite was launched in July 1962. Relay I was launched in December 1962, TELSTAR II in May 1963, and Relay II in January 1964. These satellites were in nearly circular 30-degree-inclined orbits about 5000 miles high, and at apogee provided about an hour of mutual visibility between the West Coast of Europe and the East Coast of the US."

"The principal US ground station was at Andover, ME. It was my job to keep tabs on mutual visibility and to help the NASA public Relations Office schedule time on the satellites for experimental TV broadcast. The purpose of these satellites was to prove the feasibility of satellites for commercial use in relaying intercontinental telephone and television.

"TELSTAR and Relay proved the basic feasibility, but the necessity to track these moving satellites continuously, and the short period of mutual visibility, left much to be desired. By 1960, Hughes had embarked on a company program to develop Arthur C. Clarke's concept for earth-synchronous communication satellites. In August 1961, NASA awarded Hughes a contract for SYNCOM, an experimental satellite. SYNCOM II was launched in July 1963 and performed as expected."

"A WARC was scheduled for December 1963, and I attended to monitor the Conference activities and to assist the NASA Public Relations Office representative in setting up a demonstration. Some French farmers were on strike and showed their displeasure by blowing up one of the microwave repeater stations that was to carry SYNCOM signals to Geneva from the point of reception at Rota, Spain. Communications were restored only about 5 hours before the demonstration was scheduled to start."

"In February 1963, COMSAT came into being. COMSAT contracted with Hughes for a commercial version of SYNCOM. The first such satellite, Early Bird, was launched April 1965. I was appointed the liaison person between NASA and COMSAT for NASA support of the design, checkout, and launch of Early Bird and later satellites. I continued in this role until my retirement in 1969."

Jack's Interest in Ham Radio is Rekindled
"When we settled in Annandale, VA the bug began biting hard. I obtained a call, W4RAE, and got back on the air in 1967. My initial transmitter was a used Heathkit DX-100. The transceiver era was just beginning, so I soon acquired a Heathkit HW-100."

The "Retirement" Years, 1969 - 2002
"From 1963 to 1990, I specialized in domestic and international spectrum planning and utilization for communications and research satellites, and became involved in CCIR and ITU activities."

"While at NASA, I was also assigned supervisory responsibility for a study program on propagation through the Earth's atmosphere. The fact that atmospheric attenuation varies with frequency makes it necessary to choose frequencies for satellite communications, which are least, affected by these variations. Since I was familiar with those variations, I became involved in the allocation of frequencies for both experimental and commercial satellite communications. Since all suitable bands of frequencies had already been allocated to other services prior to the advent of satellites, it was also necessary to study the degree to which satellite systems could share frequencies with other already-existing services without mutual interference."

"After attending an ITU conference in Geneva in 1963, I was appointed a member of CCIR Study Group IV that carried out technical studies applying to all space services. From 1963 to 1969, I attended as a NASA employee; after 1969, I attended as a private sector consultant to NASA until 1993, when I asked that the contract be terminated."

Jack was awarded the NASA medal for Exceptional Service "for significant contributions in the areas of millimeter wave propagation and radio frequency interference and for his recognized leadership in CCIR in all areas of space applications. His exceptional service in defining and fulfilling NASA's responsibilities in the NASA/COMSAT relationships led to the successful INTELSAT operational communication satellite system."

Jack continued on as a spectrum management consultant on a contract basis. He was a consultant to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting concerning their planned use of satellites for program distribution

Jack settles on TEN-TEC Equipment
"Around 1972/3, the ARRL National Convention was held in Reston, VA. Solid-state transceivers were being introduced, and one of the exhibitors was a new company, TEN-TEC of Sevierville, TN. They were showing advance models of their first solid-state transceivers, the Triton I and Triton II. My local ham radio store, Arcade Electronics, had their booth next to T-T, and I was introduced to the T-T people. I ordered a Triton II on the spot, and my reward for patience was that it was Serial Number 1. I have had T-T equipment ever since.

Jack gets involved in SOWP and QCWA
"I wanted to keep up with local affairs, so I joined the local chapters of the Society of Wireless Pioneers (SOWP) -- Chapter X, National Capitol Area -- and the Quarter Century Wireless Association (QCWA) -- Chapter 91." Jack was elected to serve as Chapter 91's Secretary during 1985 and 1986, Vice President during 1987, and President during the years 1988 - 91."

"In 1986, Jack was elected to serve as a Director of QCWA, Inc. in 1986 and was elected Vice President in 1994 and President in 1998. He retired as President in September 2000, but was asked to stay on as an advisor to two of QCWA's Administrative Committees.

Jack and his second wife, Margaret, established the Max Jacobson Scholarship in memory of Margaret's late husband, Max Jacobson, W3DUG, another radio pioneer. The first Max Jacobson Scholarship was awarded in 1993.

Jack wrote for Periodicals covering Amateur Radio
"Amateurs in the Washington, DC, area keep up with happenings via Auto Call, a monthly magazine published by the Foundation for Amateur Radio (FAR). One of the regular features in Auto Call is "FCC Highlights," which until 1991 was written by Bill Grenfell, W4GF, an FCC retiree. Billís health began to fail, and I was asked to write the column. The same material appears a month later in a national magazine, World Radio."

Jack wrote these columns faithfully until his health began to fail in 2001. A long-time friend of Jack's, John Johnston, W3BE, has been writing FCC-related columns in these spaces since.

Amateur call signs held by Jack
    W2DSV, Red Bank, NJ
    W5FIP, Fort Sam Houston, TX, 1933 - 37
    W2DSV, Red Bank, NJ
    W4JSJ, while working at the Pentagon, 1946 - 51
    W4RAE, Annandale, VA,
    WS4ITU, Annandale, VA, commemorating World Telecommunication Day, 1974
    W4ZC, Annandale, VA, and Silver Spring, MD

From: Tom Clark (W3IWI)
To: AMSAT BB (E-mail) AMSAT BoD (E-mail)
Sent: 08 March, 2002 19:44
Subject: [amsat-bb] Silent Key, Jack Kelleher W4ZC


> It is with sadness that I note the passing of Jack Kelleher, W4ZC of Olney
> MD. Many of us remember Jack from his NASA era in the late 1960's when he
> was one of the originators of several communications satellites, including
> the ATS series. He was one of the early supporters in the establishment of
> AMSAT in the DC area.
>
> Jack was 87 when he passed away and had been an amateur since 1932 when he
> was a lad in high school in Red Bank NJ. His career included a stint in the
> Army in WW2 and later as a civilian in the Dept of Army Signals Office.
>
> Jack was an old friend an he will be missed.
>
> 73 de Tom, W3IWI