Henry F. deCourt - W3WZN

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H F deCourt
Henry Francis deCourt
1922 - 1981

Henry Francis deCourt born to Elva and Henry deCourt on April 4, 1922 in Orange, Texas. During his childhood he lived in Orange, Tx, Chicago, IL and Savanna, Ga.  While in Chicago his favorite past time was getting 15 cents from his mom and spending as much time as he could at the Chicago science museum.  His love of science and engineering lead him to his first Amateur Radio License while in high school.  In Savannah he graduated from Armstrong Junior College and entered the Navy where he was placed into the V12 program at Georgia Tech.  

The V12 program was established by the U.S. Navy to to meet the need for officers to fill the ranks during WWII.  Between 1943 and 1946 over  125,000 college age men were enrolled at 131 colleges and universities in the V12 program.  Approximately 60,000 of those in the program were eventually commissioned as Navy ensigns or Marine Corp second lieutenants. Henry graduated from Georgia Tech with an Electrical Engineering degree in 1946 and enrolled into Georgia Techs master program.  In 1948 he graduated with a Masters in Industrial Management.

During the time between high school and graduating from Georgia Tech he learned from the FCC that his amateur call sign was being used illegally by others.  The FCC then issued him a new license and call sign, W4HDM which he used until he relocated to Bethesda, Maryland in 1952. Following his move to Bethesda his call sign became W3WZN.

Meanwhile, he met his wife to be, Dorothy, at a frat party in 1946 and married her in her home town of Lillington, NC following his graduation in 1948.  Dorothy was a graduate of Greensboro College and was working for Davison's in Atlanta as an Assistant Buyer following her successful completion of Macy's Executive Training Program. 

Following their marriage, Hank was enrolled at UNC to work on his Phd.  However, the Korean war erupted and he was recalled back into the Navy.  Following the conflict he ended up at the Naval Security Station in 1952.  Below is a press release regarding the first U.S. ELINT program, GRAB, which can be seen in it's entirety by clicking the link on the left, "Father of ELINT".

A National ELINT Program was established in 1955, under Air Force Secretary Donald A. Quarles, who had previously chaired the JCEC. ANEEG was reorganized as the National Technical Processing Center (NTPC). Soldiers, sailors, and civilian technicians, including some from CIA, were joined by an influx of airmen and civilians from ATIC at Wright Patterson AFB, Dayton, Ohio. NTPC's primary mission was to inform the Strategic Air Command about Soviet air defense radar that SAC's B-47 and B-52 bombers would encounter in the event of nuclear war. Lorenzen's Countermeasures Branch participated in and supported the National ELINT Program by serving on technical committees; developing intercept equipment; collaborating with Army Signal Corps Signals Research and Development Laboratory in Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, and Air Development Centers in Rome, New York, and Dayton, Ohio; and evaluating data acquired from ECM configurations. NTPC was headed by an Air Force lieutenant colonel, and continuity was provided by senior civilian engineers like John E. Libbert and Henry F. (Hank) DeCourt. Lorenzen continued to chair the steering committee of the Navy's Technical ELINT Panel, which supported NTPC.

Hank continued to work for the DOD as a civilian and in 1965 was transfered to Japan as a station chief. While in Japan his call sign was KA2HD. When he returned to the States he continued to work for DOD and became active with the Foundation for Amateur Radio, FAR where he was the chairman of the scholarship committee until his death in 1980.    

Hank was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cometary.

If you have a story about Hank, please drop us an email at hank-AT-decourt dot org.  Thank you.


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