For the past 39 years, Alexander Hillard, from Bartlett, has offered his time, talent, and considerable expertise to his community by sharing his knowledge of radios and emergency communications. An active amateur "ham" radio operator with an Extra Class License, Hilliard also has a commercial license, is a radio instructor, and a volunteer test examiner. Knowing radios "like the back of his hand" as well as the ancillary equipment that makes them work, Hilliard has built five ham radio repeaters during his career, with three still in operation. Repeaters, electronic devices that receives a weak or low-level signal and retransmits it at a higher level or higher power, are essential for radio communications over long distances. The W4GMM 147.090 MHz HamTronics repeater Hilliard built in 1994 for himself and the local ARES ham radio club is still in operation. It is on loan to the Shelby County Office of Preparedness Reserve Program. When asked how he got started in ham radios, Hilliard said, "My dad was a ham and I have been around radios since I was able to understand them. I built my first radio in the tenth grade, but didn’t get my license immediately…..girls became more important! During the Army I was in the Signal Corps as a Radio Relay and Carrier Team Chief rank of Sgt E-5. After service, I was hired by South Central Bell as an installer-repairman and attended Bell and Howell Schools. I earned my Novice License in 1972, passed the General License in 1974, then got the Advanced License and began teaching ham radio. I followed up with obtaining my commercial radio license. In 1983 I took over the Radio Shop at Bell South installing two-way radios, repairing personal pagers, and maintaining transmitters. After 1989, I was a Special Services Tech working on high speed data which included video and T1. And finally, before retirement, I worked on fiber optic equipment with speeds up to 1 GB." Even before retirement, Hillard gave freely of his time with such organizations as Civil Defense, the Shelby County Health Department, and the American Red Cross. He is currently a volunteer for Air Force MARS (United States Air Force Military Affiliate Radio System) and holds the position of Tennessee State Training Officer and South East Area / Region Four Emergency Coordinator. He is also an active Reserve with the Shelby County Office of Preparedness and holds Thursday evening ham radio training sessions in the Emergency Operations Center. To sum up Hilliard’s motivation for staying active in emergency communications, building repeaters, and training citizens to become ham radio operators, he said, "I am involved with Air Force Mars and the Office of Preparedness as a volunteer because I realized if the time came, I could best serve my community by helping to provide emergency communications. I build repeaters for the express use of the local ARES group for their exercises and if needed, during an emergency." Never one to rest on his success and accomplishments, Hilliard is now working on a new system that will utilize a digital voice and data program developed by the Japan Amateur Radio League called DStar. Hilliard's friends and colleagues know and respect him as "Ham" Hillard, call sign W4GMM. Nominated by Sandra Mathias.