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The "Stork" Arrives


The following is from the ARRL Letter on August 17, 2001

Thanks to Amateur Radio, a sailor aboard a US Navy destroyer at sea got to
hear his newborn son's cries for the first time. On August 12, members of
the Maritime Mobile Service Net, with cooperation of the Pacific Seafarers
Net, put sailor Mark McDonald in touch with his wife, Wendy, in California,
who was about to go into labor. The sailor later was able to chat with his
wife and her mom and to listen to his son's crying.

Terry Pipitone, KB1FMM, in Connecticut, got a front-row seat. He said the
Net session started out in typical fashion on 14.300 MHz. It soon got
interesting after Tom Lange, W4MDL, on McDonald's ship checked in seeking
help from anyone who could put the husband and wife in contact. When no West
Coast stations were available, Pipitone made some calls to California,
where--as it turned out--Wendy McDonald was headed for the hospital.

As the Net's closing time neared, the proceedings shifted to the Pacific
Seafarers Net on 14.313 MHz. While KB1FMM remained in contact with the
hospital, ARRL member Tom Whelchel, WA6TLL, in California stepped in to
provide a phone patch between the hospital and the ship--somewhere in the
North Atlantic.

As Pipitone tells it, things happened pretty fast after that. "At 0810 the
baby was born and at 0815 Mark and his new son--Justin Alexander
McDonald--were on the phone together," he said. "Mother and son were all
doing fine, and the proud father was in tears. The timing and the
cooperation could not have been better."

Listening in on the proceedings was Eric Boyle, N0YET, in Kansas, who
reports Mark McDonald not only was able to speak with his wife and his
mother-in-law but got to hear his baby crying for the first time. "This was
neat!" he enthused. "It is times like this that make me extremely proud to
be part of the Amateur Radio Community!"