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Washington State

A group of Amateur Radio enthusiasts will operate a special event station in memorial to the radio amateurs who perished while monitoring the volcano when it erupted in 1980. The station will be using the special event callsign W7W and will operate the lower sections of phone bands May 18th-23th 2012.  There may be some CW and Digital operations as well. With special permission from the USFS, and in cooperation with the Mount St. Helens Institute, the station will operate from within the Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. More specifically, near the Johnston Oberservatory located 5.5 miles from the crater in the blast zone of the volcano at 4313' above sea level. See the EVENT section for more details.

QSL SASE via: St. Helens Event, PO BOX 2044, POULSBO WA. 98370 Email us

About WC7O and the W7W Event

"Our reason for doing this special event is clear. We simply want to say thank you to those amateur radio op's who died at Mt. St. Helens. Also, to pay respects to all that perished that historical day. I remember as a child fishing at Spirit lake and the beauty that surround me at that time. More recently when I visit the mountain, I find a new kind of beauty. A showing of unimaginable power, and the rebirth of life amidst vast amounts of devistation sustained to every living thing on the north side of the volcano. Still today, it facinates me. So without further delay:To those who gave their all. And the one who spoke his last incomplete transmission on a local 2 meter repeater. Thank you, SK"

About the Eruption and some affected..

It was a crystal clear morning. Many people, some of whom did not take the warnings by the USGS seriously, were near the majestic peak in Washington State known as Mt. St. Helens. Some were there working, others for recreation. Of all the people that were present at the mountain on the morning of May 18, 1980, it is the amateur radio folks who have a special place in our thoughts. Most were volunteers, others were scientist, all of them there to monitor the mountain and the equipment used to observe it. They were there to pitch in and help out in the true spirit of the amateur radio service. Our grand hobby. Most hams have this need to be useful, to contribute, and many will make great sacrifices to provide a service when it is needed. The hams tho died at Mt. St. Helens are the finest example of that service. They gave their lives while simply trying to help out. For this, we have dedicated this web page. And a memorial station event. We will soon be attempting to list the names of all who were lost that day. Please accept this as our wish for goodwill and respect. A time to remember. For all of those who were touched by this historical event 30 years ago.

The Sacrifice of Jerry Martin, W6TQF, Reid Blackburn, KA7AMF, David Johnston and more..

In the spring of 1980,  Mount St. Helens' volcano in Washington state started to have small tremors.  As emergency plans were made, radio amateurs were asked for assistance in providing communications.  Amongst the over 300  hams who volunteered to help were Jerry Martin, W6TQF and Reid Blackburn, KA7AMF.  Both were members of the Radio Amateur Emergency Service (RACES) and Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES).  Jerry and Reid went into the field to help the U.S. Geological Service (USGS) and National Geographic Society set up remote cameras in order to make scientific observations.  This routine continued for several months. 

Blackburns Car
On May 18, 1980, Sunday, 8:32am, Mt. St. Helens errupted.  Jerry was at his post 10 miles from the volcano using the tactical callsign "Coldwater 2."  He radioed in the emergency to Washington Emergency Service Headquarters that the volcano had errupted.  Contact was lost with Jerry within a few minutes.  His observation post was later found to have been destroyed by the molten volcanic ash and mudflows.  Jerry's body was never recovered.  He was presumed dead. Reid was a few miles closer to Mt. St. Helens than Jerry.  No signal was recieved from him.  Later that afternoon a helicopter found his car burning in several feet of smoldering volcanic ash.  It was not safe to recover Reid's body for three days. The photo reveals the grim outcome for KA7AMF.
The eruption had an estimated equivalent to a 10 megaton nuclear weapon.  The top 1,300 feet of the volcano was blown off.  The clouds of volcanic ash reached 60,000 feet. The blast atomized much in its path. Victims were found on its fringe to be "Freeze Dried in the truck, with hands still on the wheel looking up out of the windshield" in the words of one rescuer. Old growth forests were leveled by a massive concusion 15 miles away. The northwestern U.S. was covered in several inches of volcanic ash. By the end of the operations hams passed over 3,000 messages.  We normally do not think of ham radio as something one can die from.  Jerry and Reid made the ultimate sacrifice through their devotion via ham radio which put them in harm's way. Please remember Jerry and Reid and for their honorable deeds. And always keep the spirit of amateur radio alive and well for generations to come.

David Alexander Johnston (December 18, 1949 – May 18, 1980) was a volcanologist with the United States Geological Survey (USGS) until he was killed by the 1980 eruption of the Mount St. Helens volcano in Washington. He was killed while manning an observation post about 6 miles (10 km) from the volcano on the morning of May 18, 1980. He was the first to report the eruption, transmitting the famous message "Vancouver! Vancouver! This is it!" before being swept away by the lateral blast created by the collapse of the mountain's north flank. Ham radio operator Jerry Martin observed the lateral blast overtaking Johnston's camp. He described it, and then said "It's going to get me too" and that it did. (Source Unknown)

Though Johnston's remains have never been found, remnants of his USGS trailer were found by state highway workers in 1993. The ridge where he died was renamed to Johnston Ridge, and the Johnston Volcano Oberservatory was dedicated in his honor and receives more than 4 million visitors a year . Read more about David Johnston on WiKipedia

For some interesting insight on this 30th Anniversary of the eruption, vist This USGS page and get a Visitors Guide here.

Please note: If you have information about others who perished or played a role in the eruption please contact us and let us know for future events.

St. Helens INstitue

We would like to thank the Mount St. Helens Institute for working with us on this historic 30th Anniversary. Please visit The Mount St. Helens Institue for some rich insight on Mt. St. Helens today! If you live locally to the Mountain, be advised they are having some wonderful activties this year! Please support them in any way you can.


St. Helens Cam, Positioned at the W7W operating point.

And we would like to show our appreciation of the U.S. Forest Service for providing amazing services nation wide and helping all of us preserve and enjoy!



Special thanks to North Kitsap Amateur Radio Club for the loan of some much needed accessories.


WC7O 2010 | WebIT Northwest

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