Commander TL Sparks enlisted in the Navy in 1968 after completion of a three year Electronics Technician program at Spokane Community College. His first assignment after boot camp was to the Navy's Electronics Technician "A" school to learn how to operate and repair the Navy's HF, VHF, and UHF communications equipment. As a result Terry learned to operate and repair High Frequency (HF) Single Side Band (SSB) Transceiver over forty years ago.
After almost nine years of active duty at a Communications Station, aboard two Submarines, and a Satellite tracking and injection facility, Terry left active duty and joined the Naval Reserves. He was commissioned as an Ensign at his fourteen year point and attained full commander prior to his retirement after thirty-three and a half years service.
After active duty Terry enrolled in a night program to attain a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering offered through Washington State University in Richland, WA. Terry attained the BSEE with honors, a long eight years after his enrollment in night school.
Terry's civilian employment included: Studio Engineer at WCCO TV in Minneapolis, MN, Chief Engineer for KVEW TV in Pasco, WA, teaching Electronics at Columbia Basin College, and Engineering Manager for: UNC Nuclear Industries, Westinghouse, Combustion Engineering and ABB Power Systems.
He sailed his first boat over thirty years ago and was hooked at first sail. His years in the Navy where he learned Communications, Navigation, Radar, as well as the workings of the many systems involved with making sure that his two submarines both went into the deep and back to the surface clearly honed Terry's skills for the cruising lifestyle.
In addition to Terry's Navy time, civilian work and cruising life, he worked and qualified as a N&MC Military Auxiliary Radio System (N&CM Corp MARS) operator in the summer of 2011. The HF Station provides emergency communications support via HF and VHF for the Emergency Management. The Whidbey Is Naval Air Station's (NAS) HF operators utilize both the on base communications center and utilize Go Boxes and custom antennas for remote communications. In Oct 2015 NAS MARS and Terry changed to Air Force MARS after N&MC MARS was eliminated by the Navy. He was promoted to the Assistant Officer in charge of the NASWI HF Station and is responsible for daily operation of the station. The station provides communication services for NASWI Emergency Management, NASWI, Navy Region Northwest, MARS, SHARES, ARES/RACES, and amateur emergency networks.
FCC Licenses Held: General Class Radiotelephone with Radar endorsement; Global Maritime Distress and Safety System Maintainer; Amateur Extra (Ham); Ship Station Restricted Operator permit.
Terry holds both Washington and Oregon boating certificates.
After his retirement from the Navy and ABB in 2008, Terry and his wife went cruising on their sailing vessel Sunnyside. They continue to cruise in the Sea of Cortez and the Mexico Pacific coast.
After a couple of years of cruising, Terry started writing Made Simple for Cruiser books to help others get started living the dream, do it right and come home safely.
*** If you ever need help with a question, send him an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
You can't keep a submarine sailor that has been qualified in submarines for over 50 years off a boat tour.
Mexico is an amazing Cruising Ground.