13 Colonies—a Truly Special Event

Independence Day is one of my favorite times of the year. Cookouts, friends and family, fireworks and, of course, the 13 Colonies Special Event.

The 15th Annual 13 Colonies Special Event took place July 1 through 7, 2023. If you missed it this year or have never participated, be sure to mark it on your calendar for the next time it comes around. It’s an event that has a lot to offer in terms of history and on-air activity. This popular event (more than 260,000 QSOs were recorded in 2022) honors the original 13 colonies, United States independence, active military personnel, and veterans. All amateur radio operators and shortwave listeners (SWL) are welcome to participate. Certificates are available for all participants.

During this special event, each U.S. state that was one of the original 13 colonies has a special call sign. Only one of the 13 colonies needs to be contacted to earn a certificate. There were also three bonus stations this year: WM3PEN, GB13COL, and TM13COL. Participants could earn unique QSL cards for each colony and bonus station.

13 Colonies Special Event

Sample of 2023 Certificate from

The event features all HF bands, including the WARC bands, with the exception of 60 meters. Simplex on 2 meters and 6 meters is encouraged for those close enough to use them. The colony special event stations are all on the East Coast and are very close to each other. This year, bonus station WM3PEN was also on the East Coast. It was harder for these stations to contact each other, so use of 160m-40m was encouraged.

As with past years, all modes of operation were represented: SSB, CW, RTTY, digital, etc. The mode of operation is up to the individual colony state station. Users are referred to the state information pages for details.

The 13 Colonies Special Event is a not-for-profit event. All donations are used to fund the next year’s event; operating costs, supplies, and equipment; and to eliminate any expenses incurred. Donations are voluntary. Participants who have difficulty with a donation can indicate this on their log sheet and the certificate earned will be sent with no questions.

13 Colonies Special Event banner

Every year the certificate—based on a Revolutionary War theme—is different. The group varies the certificate for variety and collectability. Special endorsements are available. All QRP, CW, mobile, digital and satellite are options as well as being a veteran, American Legion, NRA, or VFW member. A “Clean Sweep” is awarded for reaching all 13 colonies regardless of obtaining the bonus stations.

Did you participate in the 13 Colonies Special Event this year? Share your story in the comments below or email me at

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