An event to honor prisoners of war and those missing in action will be held Friday, Sept. 16 at G&M Ranch in Loxahatchee Groves, led by amateur radio operator Michael Bald as part of 10-day observance.
National POW/MIA Recognition Day was established in 1979 through a proclamation signed by President Jimmy Carter. Since then, each subsequent president has issued an annual proclamation commemorating the third Friday in September as National POW/MIA Recognition Day.
A national-level ceremony is held on every National POW/MIA Recognition Day. Traditionally held at the Pentagon, it features members from each branch of military service and participation from high-ranking officials. In addition to the national-level ceremony, observances of National POW/MIA Recognition Day are held across the country on military installations, ships at sea, state capitals, schools and veterans facilities.
For the last 13 years, Michael Bald, amateur radio station call sign K4MIA, has run a special event station as part of National POW/MIA Recognition Day. Bald, a native Floridian and longtime Loxahatchee resident, has been an amateur radio operator for more than 50 years. He has created and sponsored an amateur radio special event station surrounding the National POW/MIA Recognition Day. It runs for 10 days, Sept. 10 through Sept. 18.
Most days, Bald will be operating from his home station, but on Friday, Sept. 16, the official recognition day, he will be operating from Project 425’s Vietnam UH1H Huey helicopter at G&M Ranch in Loxahatchee Groves. In addition to his home operating station, Bald will be operating from various veteran-based locations, such as the American Legion Post 268 in Riviera Beach.
Bald has set up other stations across the country using his call sign. This year, K4MIA will be operated from Vermont, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Florida, Mississippi, Texas, Utah, Ohio and Puerto Rico. Six other amateur radio operators in Palm Beach County will be helping with the event.
During this event, thousands of amateur radio operators in the U.S. and throughout the world, using their personal radio equipment, contact designated amateur radio stations strategically located in the U.S., sharing specific information, all for the purpose of creating awareness for this important day. Not only voice but many other methods are used to make contacts — Morse Code, amateur television, digital modes, through satellites and even bouncing signals off the moon. Last year, more than 5,500 contacts were made. Special QSL cards are sent out to the stations contacting K4MIA. This year’s QSL cards will have a photograph of the Huey helicopter.
“This event is one of the highlights and most rewarding parts of my 50 years in radio,” Bald said.