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Radio operators gather

June 27, 2004|by LAURA ERNDE

laurae@herald-mail.com

LEITERSBURG - Bill Drager of Hagerstown was listening to his ham radio one day when he heard someone say, "We found it."

Drager soon learned that "it" was the Titanic. The famed ship's wreckage was discovered in 1985, 73 years after it sank to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.

"I caught the patch of him telling his wife. It was amazing," said Drager, 65.

On Saturday, he and other members of the Antietam Radio Association set out to contact as many ham radio operators from as many far-flung areas of the world as possible, association president Herman Niedzieski said.

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The Tri-State area group was participating in Ham Radio Field Day, which allows them to practice communications in a simulated emergency, Niedzieski said.

In a real emergency, radio operators can be called upon to help emergency workers communicate with each other.

Members of the association set up their radio rigs Saturday at Leitersburg Ruritan Park.

Various metal and wire antennas were strung up around the pavilion, and the hiss and crackle of radios mixed with muffled voices and Morse code tones.

Radios running on battery, generator and even solar power were being used to make brief contact with people all over the country.

In his 41 years as an amateur radio operator, Drager has heard a lot of things over the airwaves.

He's talked to people from every state in the union and a hundred different countries.

Once, he met up with someone from Sweden who was on a quest to talk to someone from every county in the United States.

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