Army MARS Public Affairs Officer Bill Sexton, N1IN/AAR1FP, Retires
Bill Sexton, N1IN/AAR1FP, will step down on December 31 as the US Army Military Auxiliary Radio System (MARS) public affairs officer, a volunteer position. Now 86, Sexton, who splits his time between Pittsfield, Massachusetts, and Sarasota, Florida, has been involved with MARS since the early 1990s, after reading an article about the program in QST. He stepped into a PR role with the organization following the death in 2001 of long-time Army MARS Public Relations Officer Lori Matthew, N4ZCF.
“Bill is credited with creating the Public Affairs Program in Army MARS,” said Army MARS Headquarters at Ft Huachuca, Arizona, in announcing Sexton’s retirement. “According to Bill, if you’re not telling your own story, someone else will. Bill has, through persistence, prevailed in establishing doctrine for Army MARS public affairs activities.”
Sexton has an impressive and extensive journalism background, having served for 13 years with United Press International in Raleigh and Charlotte, North Carolina, as well as in Detroit, New York, and London. He also logged 20 years with Newsday, 7 of them as editorial page editor of the Long Island daily and nearly that long as a foreign correspondent covering Asia. He also served 3 years as associate director of the American Press Institute at Columbia University.
A Korean War veteran, Sexton said he joined MARS “at a time when the Army had little use for HF radio.” He said he’s always paid close attention to national security, and MARS fit that interest. “My good luck was to be around when Afghanistan proved HF’s value over satellite communications.” Sexton did step away from MARS public affairs for a few years, before being invited back in 2012, during an effort to rebuild Army MARS for what Sexton called “its present key role in Department of Defense buildup for contingency communications” in the Internet Age.
“Just as cyber crime became a major threat to American security, it dawned on people that we are the only national-level communications mode totally independent of vulnerable infrastructure,” Sexton said.
Sexton plans to remain active in the Army MARS program. Army MARS is accepting applications forn the volunteer post.