Written by: Claire Brumback, Public Affairs Intern
In 2009, volunteers around Indianapolis, including former military personnel and amateur radio operations, began assembling a replica of the USS Indianapolis main radio room in the Indiana War Memorial (IWM) where a gift shop use to be located. The exhibit opened later that year in November. Donations for the exhibit came from all over the country with about 48 pieces coming from one man in New Mexico. Eighty-nine donors and 275 items later, the exhibit still needed one piece: a World War II US Navy TDE-2 radio transmitter form 1940. The museum acquired this final piece from a man in Pennsylvania, which allowed the museum to complete the replica on February 28, 2017.
Many parts of this replica are functional; however, the TDE radio needed a power supply. After some research, it was determined the power supply requirements for the TDE unit were similar to those of the vintage GE Power Supply, which is no longer widely used. Luckily, there was an original GE power supply cabinet in Indianapolis Power & Light Company's (IPL) Harding Street Station VHF tower, which has been at that location for nearly 35 years.
Obtaining this piece allowed the TDE to go on air for the first time since WWII.
After learning about the need for the GE power supply, current and former IPL employees requested to donate it to the IWM. Transmission Operations Manager Russ Mills and his team were responsible for organizing the donation.
"We decided to donate this piece to the IWM, because it was a unique way to repurpose some antiquated equipment," said Mills.
On April 4, 2017, Team Lead John Willey, Terrance Smith, Darrel Sisson and Jeremy Lux moved the GE power supply cabinet to its new home at the IWM. Parts of the cabinet will be salvaged and installed in the TDE to make it functional. This part of the project will be complete within the next year with the help of a group of IWM volunteers, which includes former military members and radio operators.
Chuck Crist was responsible for heading this project. Crist is a lifetime member of the Indianapolis Radio Club (IRC) and volunteer at the IWM. He helps maintain and operate the exhibit, along with 12 other IWM volunteers all year long. Crist and many others involved in this project all work for the museum on a volunteer basis.
"The IWM is very proud of the USS Indy Radio exhibit and what it allows the public to learn about WWII history of US Navy radio operations," said Crist. "We are very grateful to IPL for the equipment."
If you'd like to visit the radio room exhibit, the IWM is open to the public Wednesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Admission is free.
Check out our photos of the move below: