South Texas Combined Hurricane Drill

Conducted : AUGUST 29, 2009
Written by: Bob Hejl – W2IK – W5BOG – NNN0KSI – NNN0GBY2 NMC MARS STX ECOM 
Report Released: September 4, 2009

The joint exercise as conducted by Navy-Marine Corps MARS, REACT and Bexar Operators Group on August 29, 2009 also encompassed other groups who wished to test inter-service communications during the scenario of a hurricane hitting the Texas gulf coast just north of Corpus Christi.

These other groups included / covered:

  • Guadalupe County OEM
  • Hays County Sheriff’s Office
  • Caldwell County EOC
  • San Marcos Police Department
  • Nueces County EOC
  • National Weather Service – Corpus Christi
  • National Weather Service – New Braunfels
  • Central Texas Medical Center
  • Chaparral Amateur Radio Club
  • Hays/Caldwell Hams Amateur Radio Club
  • Hays/Caldwell ARES Guadalupe VOAD
  • Lockhart Police Department
  • Driscoll Children’s Hospital – Corpus Christi
  • One Army MARS Station
  • Guadalupe Valley Amateur Radio Club (provided the VHF repeater)

If we left out any additional groups who participated, please contact us with the proper details. – Bob

We were testing out the MOU’s between REACT and NMC MARS as well as intercommunication skills. The exercise began at 11 AM local time with three phases: Pre-Land Fall (testing evacuation communications) , Land Fall (testing up to date weather conditions and storm damage) and Post Land Fall (evacuees returning to their homes, damage assessment, etc) In the spirit of cohesiveness, the operation was a success.

When possible, each group communicated with each other and exchanged limited information.  Band conditions were not conducive to using HF on frequencies near the proposed 40 meter area, so adjustments needed to be made.   The NVIS antennas being used during this past exercise, were cut for regions around 7 MHZ, so when we dropped down on both ham and MARS frequencies we really needed longer antennas.   This problem will be addressed by groups wishing to communicate on HF during events.

Map_SouthTX_2The wide-range VHF repeater used was exceptional in it’s coverage and no real problems cropped up. It covered areas from beyond Floresville ans Seguin to near Austin. It is strongly suggested that if a real emergency should occur, we use this repeater with the permission of the group who maintains it (GVARC).

The purpose of our exercise was also to test our capability to fill in and observe conditions where other services might find it difficult to fulfill. Having limited resources, we need to choose wisely what responsibilities we accept.

The net control stations (HF and VHF) at the National Weather Service in New Braunfels did an excellent job in keeping information flowing in a professional manner.

Navy – Marine Corps MARS was represented by it’s own emergency net with the following stations checking in and supplying simulated information in the form of EEI’s:  NNN0ETI – Net Control  NNN0OYS, NNN0KSI, NNN0RKP, NNN0FWM, NNN0VPE, NNN0VHO . In addition, one Army MARS Station, AAR6CH was also active in this net.  These stations covered areas from Brownsville to Houston and points West. EEI’s were passed using MT63 digital communications as well as voice.


  1. There needs to be developed direct liaisons with MARS and REACT so information can be passed better. This means that when a MARS liaison station receives EEI’s via MT 63, they break down the information in to plain text and communicate this information to a REACT station who can then put this information in to the ham-end of reporting. This exchange should be done on separate HF frequency using voice communications. The REACT liaison station can also exchange any additional information with MARS so this information can be included in any EEI.
  2.  This was not the time for testing Army MARS capability to communicate with NMC MARS stations using MT 63. (Each service uses different MT 63 parameters.) This should be done during MARS “free nets” which are available every day.
  3. There was one NMC MARS net control operator, who was over-loaded and needed to be relieved for a period of time. It is hoped that with the success of this event additional NMC MARS members will check in and offer net control relief duty.

Since this exercise there have been other groups, such as the Atascosa County Amateur Radio Club, who wish to join our combined communications efforts. We welcome all groups with a sincere interest in emergency communications.     They should contact either MARS at:   or   REACT (Lee Besing) at:     

Next Exercise -November 7th

We are preparing another hurricane exercise for November 7th.    It is hoped by then to have ironed out any difficulties found from this first exercise. Input from concerned parties is always welcomed.


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