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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Honor thy Father ... W9IV

As this blog's faithful readers know, son Jesse recently published a book.  Somehow, his moving introduction to that book dealing with his grandfather, also published online as an article, garnered the attention of one Mr. Michael Carroll, creator and editor of an amateur radio memorial site called the National Silent Key Archive.  Mr. Carroll wrote to Jesse, as follows:
From: National Silent Key Archive <>
Date: March 21, 2012 9:29:28 PM EDT
Subject: Your Grand Father (SK)

Mr. McDougall,

I invite you to set up a ham radio silent key memorial page for your grand dad at the National Silent Key Archive. Working with only the few bits of info your provided in your article,

"The Content of Your Communication Is What's Important - Not What Carries It"

I came up with two possible call signs for your grand dad.

W9IV and W4PQA. These two links will take you directly to each call sign page respectively.

Once at the correct page, you can add photos, an obituary or biography, and attach other documents, like copies of his license, QSL card, or additional photos.

If neither of these call signs was your grand father's, I might be able to dig a bit deeper if you provided a bit more info about your grand father; location (QTH) and exact birth date, etc.

Thank you.

Michael Carroll - N4MC
Founder, The National Silent Key Archive
 Jesse asked me to respond.  I have just done so:

Dear Mr. Carroll,

I am replying to your thoughtful and accurate research report to my son, Jesse (J.S.) McDougall, which he has forwarded to me.  Indeed, my Dad was W9IV, formerly W9CVQ, back when he was operating from the Chicago area, between 1948 and about 1987.

At my office I have, I believe, one of Mac's QSL cards,  If I can find it, I will scan it and send it to you.

I am attaching a photo of Mac, and one of his grave marker.  Here is a brief summary of my memories regarding Dad's long history in ham radio. 

Dugald Stewart "Mac" McDougall

Born May 15, 1916, and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana, Mac's boyhood hobby was building radios, which led to his learning Morse Code and getting an amateur radio license in 1929, when he was 13 years old.  He held that license continuously until his death at age 91, on September 15, 2007.  The son of George McDougall, a railroad freight agent, and Effie Barclay McDougall, a high school math teacher, the precocious Mac entered the University of Chicago at age 15, took a 6-year program that included both undergraduate and law schools, and graduated in 1937, at age 21, near the top of his law school class, with both a B.A. in history and a J.D.

As a boy in Wilmette, I used to sit in the basement next to Mac's workbench, watching as he soldered and fiddled, modifying or repairing the surplus WWII military radios that were then his favorite toys.  Thus, I heard lots of stories. One of the best stories Mac told about the effect of amateur radio on his life had to do with his four years in the U. S. Navy during World War II.  To the best of my memory, it went like this:

Shortly after Pearl Harbor, I volunteered for the Navy's Officer Candidate School.  ("Why the Navy, Daddy?")  My father had told me that the food was better in the Navy.

I went through OCS, and on through Communications School, and was about to graduate to the fleet, when an announcement appeared on the bulletin board of an entrance exam for something new, called Radar School.  Intrigued, I asked my commanding officer whether I might sit for that exam.  He explained, "I am sorry, Ensign McDougall, but the Navy's Radar School (located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, at Harvard and MIT) is restricted to electrical and electronic engineers, and I see you were a history major."  I told him, "Sir, I have been a ham radio operator since I was 13, and I have built all my own radios.  I believe that I understand the theory."  My commanding officer handed me a book, and said, "The exam is in the morning.  I will add your name to the list." 

Mac passed the entrance exam, completed radar school, then served about six months at sea on a sub chaser, escorting convoys from Boston to Halifax, Nova Scotia, where they joined more ships for the long and hazardous voyage to England or Russia.  Then, Mac commanded the Radar Repair Squadron at the Charlestown (Mass.) Naval Base.  Thereafter, he was sent back to the Radar School as an instructor. 

Hence, in August of 1943, I was born at Chelsea (Mass.) Naval Hospital, where my delivery and my mother's two-week hospital stay cost the family a total of $37.50.  (Mac told me once that I was worth every penny of that.)

The rest of the story is that in 1944, the Navy's Bureau of Personnel (BUPERS) ordered Mac, whom it had identified as a lawyer who knew radar, to move to Washington, D.C. to serve in the Navy's Patent Department.  This move led to Dad's long and distinguished postwar career as a patent and trademark lawyer. 

In that career, Mac was a modest man.  We four sons discovered only in 2012, almost five years after his death, this web page:  We'd known that Dad spent a lot of time traveling to various federal courts, but had no idea that during his career, Mac had argued some eleven cases at the Supreme Court of the United States.

After his retirement at age 70, Mac and Judy, our stepmother, made two trips around the world, largely to visit his ham radio friends.  Mac had radio friendships of some fifty years' duration in South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, and in many other countries. 

When his time to die was fast approaching, my wife Shirl and I visited Mac in Haines City, Florida, and were discussing his final resting place with him.  Shirl found Mac's Navy discharge document, and we had gone up to Webster, FL to see the National Cemetery there.  I told Mac that he had the right as a veteran to have his ashes interred there, "With your fellow WWII veterans."  Mac replied, "I wouldn't have any objection to that." 

So, that is where W9IV lies, in silence.
Mac is survived by his wife Judy (Stephen) McDougall, and his four sons, Dugald George, Duncan Carl, Walter Allan and Robert Stewart McDougall, plus thirteen grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.  R.I.P., Dad.


Duncan Carl McDougall
Letter received following 2011 Reunion of my Wilmette Jr. High School class. The QSL card above accompanied this letter.

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