Events / HAM Radio 101

Honoring Hams Who Operate into Their 100s with the ARRL Centurion Award

There’s no ageism in the world of Amateur Radio—in fact, quite the opposite. The ARRL is committed to celebrating Hams with long-term commitments to the hobby, and that includes

celebrating operators who have achieved centenarian status with the ARRL Centurion Award.

This past November, Cliff Kayhart, W4KKP, gained recognition as the oldest known U.S. radio operator at 108 years! The White Rock, South Carolina, native received his ARRL Centurion Award plaque—and perpetuity in Ham history—from Roanoke Division Director, Bud Hippisley, W2RU, and a delegation of prominent ARRL board members.

A longtime Ham, Kayhart was first licensed, W2LFE, in 1937, and later used the call sign W9GNQ. He served in Iwo Jima during World War II, using long-range radio communication to contact Tokyo and arrange for Japan’s eventual surrender.

You can listen to Kayhart discuss his experience firsthand in this interview he participated in for WLTX19 News.

Kayhart is still active today, checking into several nets from his assisted living facility where he’s an avid reader of QST magazine, and enjoys the waived ARRL membership fees that come with centenarian status.

Think he’s the only Ham to operate into his hundreds? Think again—notable Hams abound.

Cary Nettles, W5SRR, helped pave the way for travel to the moon with his work at NASA, receiving the Centurion Award at age 104. Mary Cousins, ex-W1GSK, the first woman to obtain an Amateur Radio license in Maine, received the ARRL Centurion Award, later passing away at the age of 108. Additionally, Reynold “Fritz” Nitsch, W4NTO, considered to be the “Godfather of Hams,” was the first recipient of the award at age 100.

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