Who Are the VWOA?

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In the early decades of the Twentieth Century wireless first burst onto the world scene. It conjured up images of Aladdin-like magic, vast fortunes to be made, and the call of far away places. Unlike the telegraph and telephone, wireless permitted instantaneous communication with locations that were not connected by a physical cable. For the first time since mankind went to sea, ships and those who sailed on them, no longer lost all communication with home when that ship dipped over the horizon.


The wireless operators aboard ship, in the military, and in the shore stations created a new industry, proving the practicality of radio communication. From their pioneering efforts grew not just point-to-point two-way communication, but the undreamed of birth of radio broadcasting. Today's world of satellite communication, radio and television broadcasting, and the digital revolution was created by generations of dedicated, enterprising men and women. A surprising number of them spent all or part of their career as wireless operators.

The Veteran Wireless Operators Association was founded in 1925 to foster fellowship among this elite profession. Over the years the ranks of the VWOA have included most of the executives and innovators of the broadcasting and communication industry, as well as thousands of radio operators.


The VWOA in the nation's service

In time of war, VWOA members have earned a distinguished record of service in all branches of the U.S. and allied nations' military. They have also held vital positions in industry. Not surprisingly, the largest number of VWOA members served as shipboard radio officers in the Merchant Marine. Many members, in fact, are veterans of the World War II convoy system and the costly campaign to keep the supply lines open to Europe during the darkest days of the Nazi U-boat warfare.  

To see some of the decorations awarded to VWOA members in World War II, click on the link to the Decorations page.


Sparks at Sea PDF Presentation

Click on the animated key icon to open a new window and view a fascinating and colorful 20-page PDF document Sparks at Sea: A Century of Signals Serving Safety and Commerce in the American Merchant Marine.  It was assembled by Dr. Miles D. MacMahon.  It is a large file, nearly 3 MB, so we recommend that you might prefer to right click on the icon and save it to your local disk before viewing it.