Thursday, April 12, 2012

A Single Signal

Thought for the day:  Like ripples from a stone tossed into a pond, the actions of a single person can sometimes change the world.

[THEME: Amateur radio]


Think of August 2, 1990. That's the day Iraq invaded Kuwait.

Iraqi tank on road to Kuwait.

Think of mayhem, terror, explosions. Telephone lines cut. Fear. No way for Kuwaitis outside of the country to know how the rest of their family and friends in Kuwait were doing. Were they alive, or were they dead? When would they know? How would they know? How would the world know what was going on?

Now, meet Abdul Jabar Marafie, amateur radio operator 9K2DZ. 

From the day of the invasion until the liberation of Kuwait nearly seven months later, Abdul, at great risk to both himself and his family, used his radio EVERY SINGLE DAY to send vital information to the outside world about what was going on in his country.

The invading Iraqis confiscated equipment from all Kuwaiti amateur radio operators, but Marafie was able to thwart their efforts by turning over some of his older equipment, while hiding other gear ... gear he could use to feed real-time information to the rest of the world. 

If you watched any news reports about Kuwait during that time and heard a reporter mention "an unknown source" of information, that reporter was talking about Marafie. Although he has received little recognition within his own country for his heroic acts, he received the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) Humanitarian Award in 1992, and is featured in an amazing documentary entitled, The Last Voice From Kuwait. (available on Youtube in three parts)

Oil fires, set by the retreating Iraqis.

Clockwise from top:
USAF planes flying over burning oil wells;
British troops;
View from Lockheed AC-130;
Highway of death;
M728 Combat Engineering Vehicle.

So, yes, think of Kuwait. And when you do, think of Abdul. A single amateur radio operator, who, with the help of a network of other amateur radio operators around the world, made a difference. A real difference.


  1. This really is an inspiring story. It's wonderful to know there are still heroes left in the world.

  2. What a wonderful story!! I'll have to check out the YouTube documentary.

    For some reason, your blog hasn't been showing up on my blog feed. Now I've missed lots of posts. :(

  3. What a brave man. I shudder to think what might have happened had he been found out.

  4. Incredible story. Wow.

    BTW... the novel you are working on, is it about amateur radio? I can't believe you're pulling off an entire A-Z at this level! You're a real pro.

  5. Wow, what a great entry for the letter K. An unknown hero!

  6. Sarah- There are still plenty of real heroes in the world. Most of them are unsung.

    Connie- I haven't visited your blog in a while, either. I've been so busy trying to keep up with comments, and visit some of the new blogs, I haven't had much time to even look at my blog roll. But I WILL visit your blog today. Gotta see what you've been up to lately.

    Donna- Thanks. Glad you like it.

    Delores- It wouldn't have been pretty for him OR his family.

    Carrie- Nope, there's nothing about amateur radio in my book. ("Hot Flashes and Cold Lemonade") But I have been considering the possibility of writing something YA involving adventure and amateur radio. Thanks. (Really sweet of you to say.)

    Arleen- He's still in Kuwait, and still enjoying amateur radio.

    L.G.- Thanks. Glad ya liked it. Unknown heroes are my favorite kind.

  7. Such vivid photographs to remind us of that great quote at the beginning of your post: that one person CAN make a difference. Yes, I WILL remember Abdul. I also remember where I was in my life during the Kuwait invasion, and how distressing this all was in our lives.

    Thanks for stopping by, Susan, and leaving a comment on my "K" post (The King and I). Like others who have commented so far, I too love it etcetera, etcetera, etcetera (smiley faces).

  8. Suze- Golly, I'm sorry. Didn't mean to.

    Ann- Thanks for stopping by, dear lady. Always good to hear from you.

  9. Wow. Love hearing stories like this of the little people making huge differences, doing something so natural to them but changing heroic to others. So very cool. Love that quote too!

  10. Wow, I had no idea. Thanks, Susan.

  11. Incredible!

    I remember that day vividly. I was a senior in high school, and there was discussion about a new draft, which I was sure would never happen.

  12. Great story! It's always nice to learn about the unknown heros.

  13. Love your post. I just finished reading "Three cup of tea." It is an amazing story of Mortensen who went into Pakistan and Afghanistan pre, during, post 9/11 to build school for children in the remote parts = schools especially for girls. He was also instrumental in many other projects. Its worth the read if you're looking for another American hero.

  14. Udita- Thank you.

    Tracy Jo- Yeah, very often the biggest heroes, and the ones who truly make a difference in the world, are people whose names we'll never know.

    Karen- Thanks for stopping by. Glad you liked it.

    Jay- Well, I'm glad a draft wasn't re-started, and hope it never is.

    Gerri- Glad you liked the story. At least some of you guys know about Abdul now, so he isn't as unknown as he was earlier today.

    Feather- I haven't read his book, but I do know Mortensen is in hot water for misappropriating a couple million dollars. (Even so, the overall amount of money raised, and the subsequent building of schools is unquestionably wonderful.)

  15. My gods. I'm speechless. He should get a Nobel.

  16. Laura- No, no, no. We can't have you being speechless, now. Settle for being in awe, okay? Abdul's work was amazing and selfless, but since he never got much recognition within his own country, and he's one of the "little people" of the world, I don't expect that he'll ever receive any more recognition or rewards now beyond knowing that he did the right thing.

  17. This is a great story. Heroes so often go unnoticed. Thank you for bringing this to our attention.

  18. Lady- Thank you for stopping by my blog to read about it! And thanks for signing on as a follower, too. I do appreciate it.

  19. Please tell me that he is still alive. Always learning on this challenge.

  20. What a great story! Thank you for posting this. I'm a new follower!

  21. loverofwords- I'm happy to say he's still alive and well. And still active in amateur radio. Thank you for stopping by. I do appreciate it.

    Reb- Glad you liked the story. Thank you so much for visiting, and for signing on as a new follower. Welcome aboard!

  22. That is an amazing story! What a shame his own country hasn't honored him in some way.

  23. That is really cool and interesting. Thanks for sharing such an important story with us.


  24. That's a great story, and I salute a brave man.

    In WWII, my grandfather was trapped on my home island (Guernsey) when the Germans invaded. He told us once of carrying a crystal radio set in the saddlebag of his bike. He could have been shot if he'd been discovered, but people in occupied countries depended very much on receiving news from the outside world.

  25. Great post! I had no idea. Never heard of him or all that he risked to get the information out to the world. :-)

  26. Your theme is very interesting and it shows that it's a subject you know a lot about and enjoy. What a neat story.... a real hero.

    Your hair always looks so shiny and pretty on your pictures.

  27. Marcy- It isn't unusual for people to receive less recognition and/or honor from their "home town" than they do elsewhere. And I don't think Abdul cares about getting recognition.

    Janie- Glad you found the tale worthwhile. Thanks for stopping by.

    Botanist- You're right. People who are isolated by war need to know what's going on in the outside world as much as the rest of the world needs to know what's happening in the occupied areas. Radio has always played a vital part during wartime. Thanks.

    Teresa- Most people haven't heard of him, but he isn't alone. Countless unnamed people have used their radios to serve their communities, their countries, and the world. Communication is vital during times of emergency and disaster. Thank you so much for stopping by.

    Manzie- I'm glad you find the subject to be interesting. I kinda hoped mixing the more technical posts with ones of human interest would keep people interested. (And everybody loves a hero.) Thanks for the comment about my hair. I'm completely inept when it comes to doing my hair, so I appreciate you saying that.

    Y'all take care.

  28. Hi Susan .. I wonder if they're doing that now from Syria - slightly different situation though - much worse ...

    Not a good place .. all the best to them particularly .. and you both .. cheers Hilary

  29. Hilary- You're right; the situation in Syria is a lot different than what was going on in Kuwait. In Kuwait, the Iraqis set out to undermine all means of communicating to the outside world, so Abdul's information was vital. In spite of the horrors going on in Syria, information is still finding its way out in a multitude of ways. And I wouldn't be surprised if one of those ways is amateur radio,

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