The Navy Trains Radio Technicians
November 1942 QST Article
My Uncle Brian was a radioman in the U.S. Navy during the end of the Korean War era. A great story teller, he used
to talk about his Navy experiences and later times as a UPS semi hauler when he and others from my Buffalo side of
the family would come to visit during summers when I was a kid. He spent his enlistment most on a gravy assignment
at the U.S. embassy in Australia. He couldn't tell me what he did there, 'cause then he'd have to kill me ;-)
of Contents]These articles are scanned and OCRed from old editions of the
ARRL's QST magazine. Here is a list of the
QST articles I have already posted. As time permits, I will
be glad to scan articles for you. All copyrights (if any) are hereby acknowledged.
See all available vintage QST articles.
The Navy Trains Radio Technicians
Radio Hams Prepare to Learn a Fascinating New Art
This is the story of a
radio technician. He's one of the lads who, sooner or later, will be found out in the front lines - the first
line, in fact, of America's defense. On the front line of battle - and on the front line of science, too. For his
job it is to run one of the important new scienti1l'c developments that in the end will win the war.
Not that we're going to be able to tell you just what he does, of course. That's a deep dark secret - and we'd
better all pray, fervently, that it remains so. Even he himself doesn't know, in all probability - yet. His
present job is to train himself to the point where he will be fit to find out.
For he is a student at one
of the Navy's primary EE and RM training schools.
There are seven of these schools scattered around the
nation. There's one at Grove City College in Pennsylvania and another at Utah State Agricultural College, Logan,
Utah. There are two in Texas - one at the University of Houston and another at A&M College of Texas. Oklahoma A&M
College at Stillwater has one, too, and the Bliss Electrical School at Takoma Park, Maryland, is now devoted
entirely to this training.
Hams in the current Navy RT class at Grove City College: First row, I. to r.: Lt. Comdr.
W. F. Grogan, US R. ex.W4QY. Commanding Officer; W3FGA.W3HYL; W8PGM; W8TTK; W3DYM; W2LWS; W8QZO; W2NPH; W8VYM.
Second row; W8SC; W3JMO.W3JWL; W1ELR; W1EQG; W2AFM; W3JIX; W1EII; WIDZB. Third row: W200U·W3IAY; W1LTR; W80ST;
W80TO; W3GYY; W1JTG; W1NCQ. Fourth row: W3EJA; W3HHY; W8LWV; W8NNW.W8SAA; W3CTS; W3GCI; W8KWA. Fifth row: W7HKW
-ex·W2IDO; W8VZK; W3IQO. ex·AD47; W2HEO-ex.WIAZK.
Then there's the school at 190 North State Street in Chicago - except that instead of being last on the list it
should have been first, since it was the first to start instruction and its commanding officer, Lt. (jg) William
C. Eddy, USN (Ret.), did a great deal of the work in setting up the curriculum for the uniform course taught at
all the schools.
Which of these schools does our hero attend? Any - and all. All you have to do is to look
for a fellow with a trim white uniform, a collection of books and papers under his arm and a look of concentrated
absorption "on his face. It won't be hard to find him, either - there are hundreds of him at each of these seven
schools, and hundreds more coming and going every thirty days or so.
Let's hear from some of his buddies
speaking from the campus of the Utah State Agricultural College at Logan, Utah:
"The Battle of Logan"
Veteran or neophyte, all primary EE and RM students are taught radio principles and practice from the ground up
- and learn a lot about fundamentals they passed up in earlier training. These photos show Grove City students
in typical lab sessions. Top - Making a study of the factors affecting the performance of a Class. A
resistance-coupled amplifier, Front, D. F. Burdett; rear, R. Spencer, ex.W2DEG. Second from lop - Lt. Comdr. W.
F. Grogan, ex.W4QY, explaining the construction of one of the "bottles" from the 1-kw. ham transmitter. The
100-watt college transmitter is visible at the right. L. to R.: R. W. Somers, RT2c, W3RRY; Lt. Comdr. W. F.
Grogan; T. S. Austin, W8RDJ, and R. J. Parker, RT2c, W8NNW. W8SAA. Second from bottom Obtaining data for
saturation and magnetization curves of shun t and series wound genera tors. Note the terminals and meters
visible in the background; these are on the main switchboard in the college electrical engineering laboratory.
L. to R.: W8VJV; W2LOK; unidentified; T. S. Anstin, W8RDJ, and G. M. Vrooman. Bot/om - An experiment on tube
characteristics, obtaining data for families of curves. Reading from L. to R.: W8KWA; W8LWV; W3IQO; W3JIX;
W3JMO. W3JWL, and T. S. Austin, W8RDJ, instructor.
"In a sparkling green valley tucked between the mountains of
Northeastern Utah, far from the whine of planes and the roar of guns, several hundred sailors and marines are, as
they call it, fighting the Battle of Logan.
"The Battle of Logan? You've never heard of it? Well, probably
not. It isn't heralded in the press or broadcast to the firesides. It is, however, far more important than the
average American will realize for some time to come.
"Who are these sailors and marines? Where are they
from and what are they doing?
"Most of them held ham radio licenses or were engaged in radio repair
service in their respective home towns. Towns that ranged from the East Coast of New England to the West Coast of
California, from the plantations of Louisiana to the rolling prairies of the Dakotas.
collars and work shirts for the blues of the U. S. Navy and the forest green of the Marine Corps, these fellows
are taking advantage of the chance of a lifetime, learning more about u.h.f. than they ever would have learned
elsewhere - and with all expenses paid, plus a" salary.
"At present the Battle of Logan has its campaign
of action raging at the Utah State Agricultural College, Logan, Utah, where the men, under the command of Lt. (jg)
Carlos J. Badger, USN (Ret.), are undergoing an intensive 12-week course including mathematics, electricity and
radio. There one may hear the peculiarities of the fundamental laws set forth by Ohm and Kirchhoff thoroughly
cussed and discussed by a dark, drawling, soft-spoken former cattleman from Louisiana and a blue-eyed ex-highway
patrolman from Iowa.
"An ex-newspaper reporter finds that learning the 'five Ws' of the u.h.f. presents several new angles.
Those who are fortunate enough to be hams and are more or less familiar with the work - well, they begrudge even
taking time out to eat.
"Available to the men for their work are the well-equipped laboratories of the
College, containing more than $250,000 worth of equipment for use in radio experiments.
intensive 12-week course, each man will build a u.h.f, superhet. Another important phase of the course includes
thorough drilling in the fundamentals of a.c., d.c. and resonant circuits, motors and generators. Such a
background is necessarily required before the men are qualified for advanced training in the operation and
maintenance of the u.h.f. gear which is so vital to the Navy.
"Most of the hams attending the school are
Navy men. The Navy offers men with ham and repair work experience the opportunity to learn the secrets of u.h.f.
work which will be doubly useful to these men when: they return to civilian life. The training alone which they
are now receiving would be prohibitive in cost to them as civilians.
"In addition to this training the
Navy offers men ratings that mean the equivalent of $200 or more per month in civilian life, All that the Navy
asks in return for this training is the willingness and cooperation of the men.
"So once again this little
Mormon Valley awakens to the same fighting spirit that was exemplified by their own pioneer ancestors, as the
Battle of Logan rages on!"
Those were the words of Marine Corps Pvt. D. E. Giersdorff and RM2c F. M. Viles.
They could as well
have been speaking from the sultry plains of Texas or the noisy bustle of Chicago's Loop or even the Nation's
capital; the words might have been different, but the thought would be the same.
For, apart from the
external details of structures and climate and topography, the spirit and training at each of these schools is
very much the same. And geography doesn't seem so important in the mind of a fellow who may - and probably will -
find himself serving on the seven seas, on coral strand or frozen reef, in the air and along the shores and on the
At the Corner of State and Lake
Suppose you were talking with a student from 190. North State Street, Chicago. "Odd sort of name for a school,"
you'd say. How did it get that name? Well, here's the story.
Shop work starts with bending sheet metal chassis, cutting holes, etc., carries on through construction of
5-tube superhet. Top - Students operate all types of machine tools in Bliss Electrical School's well-equipped
machine shop. Below Drilling, punching and soldering chassis in Grove City's third-month radio lab. L. to R.:
W. B. Stryker; A. M. Pontus, W3FCR; F. L. Pratt, and P. H. M. Tippin.
You've probably heard of Lt. (jg) William C.
Eddy, USN (Ret.). There was a Saturday Evening Post piece about him some months ago - one of those yarns featuring
extraordinary combinations of American genius and success. Lt. Eddy is the former submarine commander who, upon
retirement from active duty, promptly began one of the most amazing inventive careers on record. The tale of that
career is far too long even to hint at here; let it suffice to say that a couple of years ago Lt. Eddy left NBC
and took a job as television director of Balaban and Katz, operators of television station W9XBK - which is
located in the State-Lake building in downtown Chicago. That W9XBK, wholly staffed by hams and built much like a
ham rig, quickly forged into the forefront of television research is now certainly no secret.
war came along B & K - as symbolized in the person of Lt. Eddy - found there was a job to be done. The Navy needed
trained men for the operation and maintenance of its special equipment. So they turned over to the Navy a
substantial part of the space devoted to their television laboratories in the State-Lake building at 190 North
State Street - whence came the name of the school. Lt. Eddy participated in the work of preparing the curriculum
to be specified by the Bureau of Naval Personnel for this and subsequent Radio Materiel schools. They devised a
standard examination designed to disclose the qualifications of men seeking enlistment in the new branch.
Through classroom lab and shop the Navy's radio technicians get a thorough grounding in
basic electrical principles, as well as radio, u.h.f., cathode-ray tubes and all the rest. Left - Measuring the
characteristic impedance of a telephone line at Grove City. Front (hand on dial) W8KWA; standing, Instructor
Smock, chief operator WSAJ, owned and operated by the College; center, two Marine privates; right, W3GCI. Center -
Typical classroom scene at the 190 N. State St. school. At left in the laboratory are Instructors William Kunz,
W8SNS, and Stanley Osterlund, W9TJL, inspecting a 20-inch Cathode-Ray Oscillograph, one of the three now in
existence in the country. At right, A. H. Brolly, ex-W6RG, chief instructor lecturing from a drawing of a triode
crystal oscillator and the E.-I. curve of a triode tube. Right - For fifty years Bliss students learned about
electricity in this testing lab, now used exclusively in teaching Uncle Sam's sailors. Completely equipped for all
types of power and physical measurements, his work here equips the student to handle testing and measurement
And along about the first of this year the school got going - although it wasn't until
May that the Navy made public announcement of the fact.
Now men from all over the country and from every walk of life, ranging in age from 17 to 50, assemble
daily on the top floor at 190 North State Street.
The school utilizes a wing of the television station,
including three large classrooms with the necessary secondary study halls, a reception room and the administrative
offices. Roosevelt Hall, the laboratory section, is equipped with something like half a million dollars worth of
u.h.f. transmitters, antennas, c.r. oscilloscopes, oscillators and other special equipment. Washington Hall, with
its lecture rooms, is equipped to handle the non-technical subjects such as mathematics and radio theory.
There the V-6 reservists go for twelve weeks of intensified training. Those who make the grade go on to receive
Students work in groups during lab and shop sessions. Left - a Grove City group making
measurements on an amplifier. L. to R., back row: W8LWV; Marine Pvt. Merriam; W8RUJ, instructor. Front row: Marine
Pvt. Mazzeo; W3JMO-W3JWL. Right - Atop the Balaban & Katz building in Chicago a group of 190 N. State St. students
investigate performance of equipment in frigid February weather.
At Grove City
The Naval Training School at Grove City College, Grove City, Pa., was the first of its kind to be organized in the
Authorization for that school was given in early February, 1942, when the second semester of the
regular college course was already under way. To it as commanding officer was assigned Lt.- ' Commander William F.
Grogan, ex-W4QY, one of the original staff at Noroton (see August QST).
In less than one month, with the unstinted aid of Dr. Weir C. Ketler, president of the college, and Russell P.
Smith, educational director, the training program was organized and under way. It was the Noroton story over
again; in that brief time it was necessary to vacate a dormitory to provide barracks for the students, organize an
instructional staff and equip laboratories and classrooms.
No more hen-scratched circuit diagrams - the Navy wants the job done right! Drafting class at Bliss, where
students learn time-saving methods for turning out neat, accurate mechanical drawings and schematics.
On March 1st the first hundred RT2c reservists
started training; by May 1st the full complement had arrived. On this same day a Marine training detachment was
authorized, and from then on the school was jointly occupied by a mixed group of marine privates and naval
Apart from the major business of training, each of the Navy's primary schools has its own
special attractions. Grove City is no exception. The college gymnasium and athletic field are available to the
enlisted men of the school, and various forms of athletics - tennis, basketball, swimming, horseshoes, softball
are available under the direction of a Chief Specialist of the Navy, Wolf Creek, which separates the college into
an upper and a lower campus, is dammed, affording an ideal skating pond in winter,
The college is located
in the pleasant community of Grove City, whose six thousand inhabitants have warm feelings toward the uniformed
men in their midst. Every Sunday the local community swimming pool is reserved for the men of the naval school.
The local churches and homes welcome the sailors and marines. The local USO provides varied entertainment -
dances, picnics, lounges, reading rooms and many other thoughtful aids to the maintenance of student morale in
their few brief hours of relaxation.
And that's the way it is at all the schools. The circumstances may
differ, but the pattern is the same. Our information on the Texas and Oklahoma schools is not first-hand - but we
refer you to the letter from Oklahoma A&M naval station graduate RT2c George Bird, W5HGC, on page 78 of August
QST; his report of the spirit there is sufficient evidence of the fact.
At the Nation's Capital
At venerated Bliss Electrical School over half of the initial class were hams or former hams.
Left - Main entrance to the Administration Building at Bliss Electrical School, near Washington, D. C. In this
building are the general offices, reference library and reading room, lecture hall, drafting and conference
rooms, machine shop and electrical testing laboratory. Below - Memorial Hall, one of the dormitory buildings,
at Grove City College. now used as barracks for the Naval and Marine Personnel.
School was established in 1893, when electricity was just coming into widespread use and the first need arose for
trained men to make installations and supervise operation and maintenance. Its founder, Louis Denton Bliss, who
began his engineering career with the original Edison Company in the pioneer days of electric lighting, is still
its president and active head,
There, in an atmosphere hallowed in electrical annals, the students live
in comfortable dormitory bedrooms, usually two to a room, and make their daily treks over tree-shaded walks around
the oval grounds between the various buildings, the dormitories and the dining hall:
One of the
interesting features of the Bliss school is an 8-room frame house which each year was completely wired as a
practical shop project by the current civilian class, now converted for use in special phases of the RT training.
As usual, there is a liberal sprinkling of hams on the instruction staffs of most of these schools. For
example, there is Lt.-Commander W. F. Grogan, the commanding officer of Grove City College. As W4QY he was an
active ham for many years, having been SCM of Florida for about as many terms as there are fingers on your hand.
Joining the NCR as a ham when it was first formed in 1925, he soon moved up to command of the Fort Myers unit.
When the Noroton school was founded in the autumn of 1940 he was ordered to join the staff there, remaining until
the end of last year. On December 22, 1941, he was transferred to Philadelphia as assistant District
Communications Officer, and on February 8th he was ordered to take command at Grove City.
example, take the training staff at the 190 North State Street school. Among the instructors who are amateurs or
ex-amateurs at this school are A. H. Brolly, chief instructor, exW6RG; William Kunz, W8SNS; Stanley Osterlund,
W9TJL William Kusack, W9QEE; H. E. Crow, RM2c, USNR, W9FHI; E. B. Hensley, RM2c, USNR, W9HUW; R. L. Martin, RM2c,
USNR, W9CTQ; Richard Mueller, RT3c, USNR, ex-W90HZ; and Alvah Rogers, RM2c, USNR, W90ZE.
A Look at
a Radio Technician
Having seen where our radio technician lives and studies, let's look at the man himself a little more closely.
Remember, of course, that he is a composite figure - resembling no one individual, but typical of all.
There's more to being a Navy radio technician than just learning radio, and the primary schools also teach Navy
ideals and the Navy way of doing things. Here a Grove City group is being instructed in the correct method of
lashing a hammock. preparatory to departure from the school. Included in the group are WSTJH. WIDSJ. ex-W2AMM
First of all, he's somewhere between 17 and 50 years of age. If he is 21 or over he's been given a rating as Radio
Technician Second or Third Class, depending on his qualifications. He is probably - but not necessarily - a
high-school graduate. He has, however, completed at least two years of high school mathematics; the more he knows
about algebra, geometry and trigonometry, the easier the course will be for him. His knowledge of physics will be
helpful, too - and of course he has a genuine, deep-seated interest in radio, with experience either as a ham or
When he enlisted at his nearest navy recruiting station he was given a qualifying examination, consisting
of elementary questions on mathematics, physics, shop practice, electricity and radio. After he passed that exam
he was given the regular Naval Reserve physical examination.
When it was all over he found himself in the
Navy. His pay - which with allowances runs as high as $130.50 per month - began the day he enlisted, and on top of
that he was supplied with uniforms, food, quarters, medical and dental care, and of course with textbooks and
training, all free of charge.
The first stage in his training began at the indoctrination station. There
he learned the rudiments of Navy life - and quickly found and almost as quickly lost a bunch of new buddies, For
in a very short while he was on his way again this time to the primary training school to which he was assigned.
At the school he found some hundreds of other sailors or marines much like himself, divided up first into classes
and then into sections. The sections, each consisting of some 30 or more men, are the basic instruction units.
Each section has its own instructors - usually three - and goes through the course as a unit.
that he was required to put in a minimum of a 70- to 8O-hour week, 7 days a week - half of the time being spent in
class and shop, the remainder in supervised study. He found that he spent 4 hours of each day in lecture and 4
hours in the laboratory, the actual periods being two hours long minus a 10-minute rest period at the end of each
He found, too, that it was to his own advantage to attend every period in an alert, receptive frame
of mind, and to get in his outside studying faithfully, as well. For, because of the intensive nature of the
three-month course, every step interlocks with the next and all study assignments are carefully chosen and
coordinated. And when a subject is covered it's finished - there's no backtracking.
Here is the program for
a typical day:
0600 Reveille. Bunks are made and rooms cleaned by 0620.
0630 All hands assemble
for 30 minutes of setting-up exercises and drill.
0800 Classes and laboratory; two
1300 Classes and laboratory; two 2-hour periods.
1700 Evening meal.
Athletic program and study period.
Course Stresses Math and Theory
training gets under way he finds that it is divided into four main headings: D.c. theory, and mathematics, a.c.
theory and radio. The first two months are devoted to intensive math drills, physics, direct current and
And if he thinks that he already knows enough about these subjects to get by, he is
in for some stiff disillusionment. Regardless of how good his earlier training may have been, he'll find there's
plenty he didn't know. There was one graduate electrical engineer from Ohio State we were told about who - well,
there's no need to go into details, but by the time he realized how far behind he was, it was almost too late.
Even veteran hams with years of practical and theoretical background find they have to give the course everything
Besides the study of textbooks and the art of the slide rule and drawing pen, there's plenty of
shop work, too. The text and lectures are supplemented in the laboratories with experiments on series and parallel
circuits, generator characteristics, Wheatstone bridge measurements, vacuum tube construction and many others.
The students are given intensive courses in the fundamentals of radio construction and operating principles.
There are lessons on oscillators, detectors, amplifiers, coupling, transmitters, antennas and all phases of
Here is Lt.-Commander Grogan's description of the final month in the course as given at Grove City:
"The course in alternating currents includes a detailed study of the principles of a.c., various series and
parallel circuits, resonance, polyphase voltages and currents.
"The theory of the construction and
operation of a.c. machinery, rectifiers and transmission lines is taken up. A trip is taken through the local
light and power plant to study this machinery in actual operation.
"It is in this third month that the
hams are in their glory. During the first three weeks, four hours per day are devoted to radio and electrical
experiments. There are experiments dealing with resonant circuits, tube characteristics, Class A, Band C
amplifiers, frequency response of transformers and amplifiers and many others. The wellequipped college
electrical and radio laboratories are extensively used. In the electrical laboratory there are all types of single
and polyphase a.c. and d.c. machinery, transformers and a large central switchboard.
"The radio laboratory offers many opportunities for the ham. The college owns a 1 kilowatt ham rig (W8NXW)
and a 100-watt broadcast station (WSAJ) on 1348 kc., also a complete Western Electric loading panel and line-test
apparatus. The latter setup allows the men to test the frequency response of from 1 to 60 miles of telephone line.
Oscilloscopes, vacuum-tube voltmeters, signal generators and beat frequency oscillators all aid in making the
experiments vivid and complete.
"The last portion of the third month is spent in receiver construction.
Then the ham's true nature comes to the front. He aids the instructors in teaching those with little or no
previous radio training; he advocates his pet type of detector or oscillator, and bets his partner that his own
set will have the greatest selectivity and sensitivity.
"When completed, these sets are tested with the
'scope and analyzers, To more fully explain the construction and theory, demonstrations are given on the RCA
dynamic demonstrator in conjunction with the 'scope, signal generator and audio oscillator.
third month ends. The hams leave with a more complete understanding of the whys and wherefores of their work. To
some come dreams of new and better receivers and transmitters; to others the future holds the promise of a new
thrill building a rig and having many QSOs, with their new-found friends and associates."
Graduates Go On
to Secondary Schools Of more immediate importance, however, is that - if he has made the grade - the new graduate
is transferred to a secondary school for advanced training. He may, too, be advanced to a rating of Radio
Technician First Class or even Chief Radio Technician, with a base pay of $126 a month plus substantial
His primary training alone, however, will ensure him an education equivalent to that given by
electrical engineering courses in commercial schools, plus the special u.h.f. and cathode ray training he
receives. In other words, he'll have a good grounding for a career in commercial frequency modulation and
television as well as the more commonplace uses of radio and electricity when the war is over.
world of the future is going to hear a lot from these naval radio technicians. Some, of course, will return to
their original fields when it's all over - for they come from every niche in life. A good percentage of the
students are hams and ex-hams, of course. Many are radio servicemen, d.c. station operators, commercial
announcers, remote control men, oscilloscope experts and electrical and chemical engineers. Others are lawyers,
chiropractors, accountants; we even found an undertaker in one of the schools (and he was near the top of his
The ham is the nucleus, though. "We think highly of the amateurs," said Lt. Brady F.
Dayton, resident officer at the Bliss school. " Amateurs throughout have made unusually good students," is the
judgment of Lt. Eddy.
And those without amateur background quickly become inoculated with the bug - even
though they can do nothing more right now than scratch the itch. "It is interesting to hear the remarks of those
graduated, those going into a more advanced and specialized training," Lt.-Commander Grogan commented, "They say,
'We'll be seeing you on the air after this job is done,' or, 'I've never been an amateur or had a rig, but I'll
sure have one after the war.'''
They will - you can be sure of that. But in the meantime they have a lot to learn and a whale of a big job to do.
They'll do it, too - you can be equally sure of that.