John Browning – Colonel, United States Air Force

From a contemporary press report:

After a heroic three-year battle with cancer, the man who strongly contributed to making current ham radio satellites a reality, Colonel John Browning, W6SP, died on January 23, 1996 at Torrence Memorial Medical Center in California. A decade ago, John had been AMSAT Chairman. His leadership guided AMSAT North America into the Phase 3 era. He accomplished this while successfully steering an unruly group of strong-willed techies and would-be techies to the same goal. Many may remember his column, “W6 Space Philosopher” in AMSAT's Orbit Magazine. Before taking the reins at AMSAT, Colonel Browning had a distinguished four-decade military career.

An aviator shot down and highly decorated in World War II, he again saw action in the Korean Conflict as a fighter pilot. Later be became known as “Colonel Electric” for his many space satellite program achievements, including MILSTAR, of which he was the acknowledged father. When he retired from the Air Force in 1982, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal, which is an honor usually reserved for senior general officers.

John Browning the ham operator then turned his attention to the Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation and brought to it his personal brand of inspired leadership. As its Board Chairman, he was able to give AMSAT a clear vision of the future during a transitional period when AMSAT North America became one of a family of AMSAT organizations with a need to share program decisions on an international scale. John truly understood the new AMSAT realities long before anyone else based on similar scenarios he had experienced in his work with NATO satellite managers. In the end, John leaves behind a legacy in the sky. Ham radio satellites big and small that radio amateurs have come to rely on almost in the same way as they do local repeaters. John the manager and international diplomat paved the way for the engineers and scientists to build and launch these birds.

John Browning, W6SP, is survived by his wife Myrnie and daughter Marilyn, and a brother. A memorial service was hold on Monday, January 8, 1996, at the Neighborhood Church in Palos Verdes, California. Interment will be at Arlington National Cemetery on Tuesday, January 16, 1996 at 9 AM.


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