For the past two decades or so, I have lived next door to an amateur radio enthusiast. I can still remember when he replaced his rather modest garage-top antenna with one that reached toward the sky like a skyscraper. Immediately upon seeing it for the first time, several thoughts popped into my head. Chief among them: How in the world did he get the village's zoning commission to approve that monster, and will it snap off during the next big storm and javelin through the air and into my daughter's bedroom?

This was many years before I became editor of MRT. Over the past two years I have become increasingly enlightened about the contributions of ham operators worldwide. We have written numerous stories of how amateur radio enthusiasts went above and beyond the call of duty to provide crucial communications in the aftermath of natural disasters that rendered other infrastructures inoperable. These stories forever cemented in my mind that this often-overlooked segment of the land mobile radio industry not only deserves unwavering respect but also heartfelt admiration.

So it was a distinct pleasure to attend my first Radio Club of America annual awards dinner last month in New York City. I was struck by a couple of things that evening. First, listening to the long list of accomplishments of each honoree was enthralling. Second, hearing their acceptance remarks was equal parts heartwarming and energizing. Everyone in the room could feel their passion for amateur radio and the deep gratitude they felt from being honored by their peers.

I especially was pleased to see Don Backys, current president of the Northern Illinois DX Association, inducted as an RCA Fellow during the dinner. One of the first things I did upon becoming MRT's editor was to seek out my neighbor — who is employed by Motorola as a radio frequency engineer — to pick his brain about LMR. I asked him to recommend others to whom I could speak. He sent me to Don Backys, who was everything my neighbor said he would be. It was good to see him get his due.

The amateur radio community is filled with people like Don Backys. It was a thrill and pleasure to be among them. It might have been my first RCA dinner, but it certainly won't be my last.