Amateur Radio from Desecheo

KP4AM/D - The first DXCC activation

March 1979

KP4AM/D - The first DXCC activationzoomDesecheo in the Caribbean, an all time new one, was scheduled to come on the air in March of 1979. At least that's what WA6AUD, editor of the West Coast DX Bulletin would have you believe — and Cass was seldom wrong. My station was rather modest then: a small amplifier and a Hustler 4BTV vertical on the roof. I had a 15m two element delta loop but just at garage height. No beam for 20 or 10. I guessed my chances at working them on 20m to be anywhere from slim to none. It was late on a Friday afternoon, March 3, 1979. The clock struck 0000 Zulu March 4th and the ARRL DX Phone contest was in full swing. Might this work to my advantage? The exact time that KP4AM/D was due to come up was unknown. Speculation was that they'd start on 20m. But wait — an all time new one wasn't likely to open up in the contest, would they? Wouldn't that just invite more "insurance" Qs after the contest? The "deserving" throng had hit the phone bands with a vengeance, focusing on Qs not wanting to "waste" valuable contest time just listening for a new one that could appear at any second or not for another day or two.
I had no desire nor delusions about racking up anything resembling a big score in the contest - and, after all, the contest was just phone, not CW! I was stalking a "new one" ! So I kept tuning the low end of 20m occasionally listening to the cacophony up on phone and not feeling that I was missing anything. I kept tuning from the bottom end to about 14025. Around 0145Z, near 14020, I noticed a carrier I hadn't heard before. I could hear, in my mind's "eye", the op tuning the plate control for a dip (remember those!?) and then the load control to bring the power up. This went on for a minute or two. I don't think he signed just then but when the lull in his tuning was just long enough, I dropped my call in. Then I heard: "WB6RSE 599." I sent the same with a TU added and then came: "73 de KP4AM/D up." And then all hell broke loose. I guess not everyone was in the phone contest after all. For once, I was in the right spot at the right time!
Over the next several days, I managed to work them on "all bands 80m through 10m" (no WARC in those days) but that first Q was the only one on 20m.
A few years later I worked KP4AM while he was at his home QTH. I asked him to check the log. He confirmed that I was actually THE first QSO with Desecheo —March 4, 1979 at 0148Z — as the scan shows. My 15 seconds of fame...

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