AB8AU / AB8AZ
National Defense /
US Army MARS
(Military Affiliate Radio System)
Vietnam 1967, 1968 & 1969
The 9th Signal Battalion supplied all types of communications for the 9th Infantry Division, which included: microwave, data/computer, satellite, radio teletype, crypto, two-way radio communications between the foot-soldier in the bush and base camp, in-country military telephone and MARS.
The 9th Infantry Division had two base
The two fixed MARS locations were at the 9th Infantry Division Headquarters, Camp Bearcat, just north of Saigon, and Camp Dong Tam, just outside the City Of My Tho, ~41 miles south of Saigon along the My Tho River.
The Bearcat MARS radio callsign was AB8AU and was housed in the 9th Signal Battalion area of the compound. The Dong Tam MARS callsign was AB8AZ, and was housed in the US Navy area of the compound where armored US Navy MRF (Mobile Riverine Force) gunboats were repaired.
The MARS mobile unit traveled around the 9th Infantry Division theater of operation. This mobile MARS unit provided the capability of telephone calls home for the soldiers located in the smaller front-line field and artillery fire support bases.
My Story, By: Tom Boza
graduated from High School in the spring of 1967 and then joined the Unites
States Army. Little did I understand that by joining the army I would be going
to a war in
basic training boot-camp at
I didn’t see any real combat during this time, however we did get shot at once by a sniper near a Buddhist church which scared the hell out of all us new-b-s. We also discovered multiple booby-traps during two of the patrols, one of which was a trip-wire tied between two rubber trees going across the path we were walking along. The sergeant we were with spotted and defused it before anyone got hurt.
after about 2 weeks of being in country I came across a MARS station on my way
to the PX. I decided to stop in and send my folks a MARS gram (radio telegram)
informing them that I had arrived and all was well. I filled out the MARS gram
addressing it to my father and I included his amateur radio callsign WA8PYN, and then I signed
the message "Your son Tom, WA8
this day I personally believe this chain of events saved my life. If it
wasn't for me being an amateur radio operator, and if I wouldn't have stopped
into the MARS station that day to send a MARS gram to my parents, I may have
never made it out of
PFC Thomas Boza, age 19
two months at AB8AU Bearcat, I was transferred to AB8AZ Dong Tam where my real
Besides the nightly mortar attacks which was a normal occurrence, I had a fairly safe and un-eventful tour. I drank lots of beer and ate prime thick T-bone steaks on the grill.
all the eight web page links for more detail information about the 9th
Infantry Division Army MARS activities in
Choose one of the following direct web page links:
“Home, only a phone call away”
*** Must Read Article ***
Tim Boyd’s web site
Feel free to email me any comments, suggestions, or just to say hello
73s Tom NE7X