This is going to be long but I hope it will provide a glimpse of some aspects
of Phil Goetz' life that you probably didn't know about. When we see our
friends precede us in death we often feel helpless, and the only way I know
of to try to do them justice is to make some effort, however futile, to bring
them back to life for just an instant by telling some stories about them.
In 1955 I was a 17-year-old freshman at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
That was before we had arranged to get back the University's old
dormant ham call sign
W9YT from the FCC, but as hams are wont to do, we had managed to get
some sort of
student ham organization formed and when the Electrical Engineering
Department put on
an "Engineering Exposition" for the public, we set up a booth
publicizing ham radio using
the call sign of one of our group, W9ZPU/9.
As was tradition in those days a public exposition about ham radio had
as its principal
feature the acceptance of messages from the general public on those
green and yellow
ARRL message forms, which we promised to send out over the radio
absolutely free of
charge. There was this 12-year-old kid who just showed up and before
we knew it he
was the guy who ended up running the filled-in message forms from the
over to the operator at the ham station at the other end of the room.
This was my
first introduction to one Philip J. Goetz. He apologized profusely
before we closed the booth that night, but he explained that he had to
catch the last
A year or so later I attended a meeting at the main radio club in the city of
Madison, the Four Lakes Amateur Radio Club, and this kid comes over to me and
proudly hands me a home-made QSL card from one KN9ELT. Yes he had gotten his
license, he said, and this was confirming a QSO we had had in the Novice
a few weeks earlier.
As was the case with many enthusiastic young hams in those days, we
became active in
the state traffic nets and did a lot of work for the ARRL section to
help out the
nets organization. We kids found out that in ham radio nobody cared
how old you were, if
you could do the job you were welcome. That was one of its big
attractions. It seemed
like just about half the hams were kids then and we made the organizations
There was a business meeting of the state nets association in
the city of Oshkosh and since Phil wasn't old enough to drive yet he asked me
if I would give him a lift to the meeting which I was of course delighted to
We had a chance to do a lot of talking during the trip up and back. By then I
had learned that just because I was a ham did not mean that I was cut out to
an electrical engineer, and since Phil was the same sort who had aced the CW
part of the ham exam but had his problems with the theory part, just like
advised him to think twice about his plans to become an engineer, and indeed
think it was I who talked him out of it. As some of you know he ended up
a masters' degree in insurance and in his working life was an
I got to know Phil's folks and spent some time at their home. They
people who did everything they could do to encourage Phil in his chosen
His dad John even got a ham license himself.
Time went on, we had founded the Badger Amateur Radio Society at the
and resurrected the call sign W9YT. As a result of my flunking out of
three times in my failed efforts to become an engineer, Phil managed to get
the University before I escaped with a Political Science degree.
Phil became a prime mover at W9YT in what may have been its glory years in
several other well-known contesters/DXers passed through there, such as
calls) K6NA, NH6T, K9CC, K9CAN, W3GG, W8ERD and K5LJ.
Tom Macon, K9BTQ, a W9YT colleague of ours has put together a
retrospective of our
time there and a youthful K9ELT can be seen pictured at
http://www.warac.org/w9yt/sixties.htm along with some of our other
While in Madison my ham radio "networking" helped me get a summer job at
Station WIBA thanks to the fact that one of my DX mentors, Ross Hansch, W9RBI
later W9BG, worked there. When I left Madison to join the Foreign Service
Phil "inherited" the job. Like many other youthful beginners in broadcasting
in those days, our job was to run "the board" in the control room and keep
track of the program log and log regular measurements of the remote
transmitter in order to fulfill FCC requirements.
Phil soon learned that his control room position afforded him unlimited power
to harrass the unlucky DJ who happened to be working the shift with him, and
before long Phil had captured a few cogent remarks from monologues of artists
like Andy Griffith and Stan Freberg and put them on a little tape he
Our union contract prohibited us from going on the air "live" but there was
nothing in it about inserting recordings on the air from the control room.
Announcers who spotted Goetz in the control room as they reported for duty
quickly learned that they had better steel themselves for the unexpected
who knows what they might say which would cause them to hear an uncannily
relevant retort in their headphones by the likes of Freberg or Griffith. And
all the while Phil was recording all of this live for posterity.
Years later when I would be Phil's house guest on my passes through Los
on the way to Asian postings, he would drag those recordings out and play
as we rolled on the floor in laughter. It was all meaningful to me because I
had worked with the same guys. What a shame that eventually the acetate on
tapes wore out and all the recordings were lost!
When I was serving overseas Phil was always willing to help out in any way he
could. When I was HS5ABD he was my QSL Manager. While at that posting one
of my regular QSOs when the bands were otherwise dead was AP5HQ at the
Army's Signals School. They were on AM and always complaining that they had
sideband rig. So I told Phil that if he could figure out some way to get
an SSB rig I would pay all of his expenses. He contacted the military
at the Pakistan Embassy in Washington and inquired as to whether, if he could
provide the radio, they would make sure it got to AP5HQ, and they said they
could. So he located a used Heath "Hot-Water 32A" 20 meter single band SSB
rig and sent it to the Embassy. A few months later I was called on SSB
by a proud and grateful operator at AP5HQ.
As I moved over to Viet Nam on my next assignment Jim "Bull"
Bullington, N4HX was
assigned to my former haunts at the U. S. Consulate in Chiang Mai, Thailand
and became HS5AFJ. In recent years you have known Jim as 5U7JB. Jim
established a close friendship with one Col. Vasit Dejunkorn, later to
become HS1VA, who was a close advisor to Thailand's King Bhumiphol
Vasit told Jim that the King was very interested in radio and wondered if Jim
could somehow manage to acquire an HF ham rig "on the QT" so that the King,
up to then was making do with a VHF walkie-talkie, could have a chance
HF radio first-hand. Once again Phil to the rescue; he acquired a Drake
and had it shipped to Jim who got it to Col. Vasit. We don't actually
the King ever used the radio, but it is interesting that he later
became HS1A and
one of his daughters, the most popular princess, has become HS1D.
That was not Phil's last experience with Thailand. When he and his regular
Phone DX contesting crew were considering how to get on from Zone 26 I
a contact with a Thai prince, HS1YC, who I thought might be able to help
efforts to get on from Thailand. Something in Phil's always pleasant
demeanor caught the Prince's fancy and before long Phil was the recipient of
regular, lengthy trans-Pacific phone calls from a usually very drunk HS1YC
was unburdening himself of all his worldly troubles at Phil's expense. Phil
would listen patiently even though, given the time difference between the two
countries, these conversations often took place during the wee hours of the
morning. Alas the Prince came to an untimely end, poisoned it was said by
his long-time wife/mistress HS1KRG, though the matter remains very
Phil and group did get to operate in Thailand, as HS1AZ.
Phil did me one lasting favor by introducing me to one Dick Norton,
W6DGH now N6AA,
who I think it is safe to say has been Phil's very best friend for the
last 40 years
or so. As you all know Dick has long championed reforms in the way
scored and results were presented, and Phil has served all these years as
loyal sounding board. These continuing conversations have had a major
contesting as we know it today. It has been our custom in recent
years to fly to LAX
and drive up to the Visalia DX Convention together, Dick, Phil and myself,
joined by Gene, W3ZZ and sometimes by Glenn, K6NA or Marty, N6VI. The
passed quickly on the trip up and back during which time we probably
contest issue known to man, the discussions always brightened by the
humor and wisecracks. We plan to do it this year again but there will
no doubt be
a gaping hole and long minutes of uncomfortable and sad silence.
The death of a contemporary who was younger and appeared to be in much
shape than oneself always causes one to wonder about the vagaries of
life, and death.
I still recall Phil telling me, when I allowed as how my favorite
vegetable is lima
beans, his warning me about their high cholesterol content. When you
would see us
standing side by side could there be any doubt about who would be the
first to break
these earthly bonds?
Farewell old friend! We will miss you!
73, Fred Laun, K3ZO
----- End forwarded message -----
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