The ARRL Board of Directors named Richard Darling, AH7G, and Barbara Darling, NH7FY, of Keaau, Hawaii as the recipients of the 2016 International Humanitarian Award during the meeting in Connecticut on January 20 and 21, 2017.
The Board cited the couple’s support of past International Humanitarian Award winner John Bush, KH6DLK/V63JB, and their “significant material support” to his efforts in the Federated States of Micronesia. “They have supported these ongoing efforts over many years with on-the-air activities including communication during weather events, including several typhoons, as well as other emergency activities, including assistance to boaters in trouble,” the Board’s resolution said.
This award is conferred upon an individual radio amateur or Amateur Radio group that has demonstrated devotion to human welfare, peace, and international understanding through Amateur Radio. The League established this annual award to recognize Amateur Radio operators who have used ham radio to provide extraordinary service to others in times of crisis or disaster.
The ARRL International Humanitarian Award recognizes Amateur Radio’s unique role in international communication and the assistance amateurs regularly provide to people in need.
John Bush, KH6DLK/V63JB received the award in 2012 and Richard and Barbara was an integral part of that team. Much of John’s work is in Yap state on the islands of Yap and Ulithi Atoll. John is also working with FSM to establish the Islands own Amateur Radio License Program. He has gotten several residences licensed under our FCC rules, which has been transferred to FSM. The reason is to be able to provide more communications to this very isolated nation. Richard Darling keeps a regular schedule with FSM stations and is, able to provide both health and welfare and emergency communications when needed.
The Federated States of Micronesia is an independent sovereign island nation and a United States associated state consisting of four states – from west to east, Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei and Kosrae – that are spread across the Western Pacific Ocean. Together, the states comprise of around 607 islands that cover a longitudinal distance of about 1,677 miles or 2,700 km.
Richard and Barbara Darling provided material support in the form of money and material, which included books, food, clothing, sanitary supplies and equipment such as hardware, and equipment like antennas.
Richard provided weather warnings prior to several Typhoons, which, most recently, included Maysak and No’ul. He also kept communications going in the aftermaths. Another disaster Richard was active in was the sinking of a 58-foot boat in Western Chuuk Lagoon. William (V63YWR) is one of the newer FSM resident hams that Richard regularly talks to. William can get on the air now partially because of the solar panels, batteries and antennas that Richard and Barbara helped supply.
The health and welfare phone patches and messages go all over the United States and the emotion involved can be heard especially since some of the people have not talked to their relatives in several years. They speak in several Micronesian languages.
Even when John Bush is in his Hawaii Residence, it is difficult for him to talk to his friends and adapted relatives in FSM because his condo has strict no antenna CC&R’s. When he does talk to them he either uses Richard’s phone patch or his own mobile. During times of poor propagation, the only alternative is through Richard. This is but another reason why the Amateur Radio Parity act is so important.
Barbara is the ARRL QSL manager for Hawaii State and very active in the Big Island ARC while Richard is one of two DXCC card checkers for the State of Hawaii with over 300 countries confirmed himself. In addition, both have traveled extensively throughout the Pacific so are familiar with many islands along with the problems of both travel and communications.
The humanitarian support does not stop with providing voice communication. Richard and Barbara regularly purchase, pack and mail care packages to Yap. These contain food, clothing, medical supplies, diapers and other supplies that are not otherwise available to the islanders.
Congratulations to two very special people who make the world a better place!
By Stacy Holbrook (KH6OWL), ARRL Public Information Officer – Honolulu.