The birth of MARS *The Army Amateur Radio Service
In October 1925 QST Magazine reported an historic plan to the Transmitting Amateurs of the American Radio Relay League by Major General C. McK Saltzman Chief Signal officer of the US Army.  The AARS (or Army Amateur Radio as it became known was the brainchild of a few dedicated pioneers of the Signal Corp led by Capt. Thomas C. Rives who was well known as Amateur Radio operator 2CXL.  In March of 1925 a board of these Army officers were appointed to meet with the executive staff of the ARRL in Hartford to iron out the specifics of the AARS. Between the chiefs.  In November, 1925, the Army Amateur Radio System (AARS) was initiated by a few dedicated pioneers in the United States Army Signal Corps led by Capt. Thomas C. Rives. His original intention was to enlist the talents of volunteer Amateur Radio operators as a source to train soldiers in the then new technology of radio as well as pursuing radio research and development to improve radio equipment within the Army. His efforts were very successful.  This organization continued until the United States entry into World War II, at which time Amateur radio (with few exceptions) was shut down for "the Duration." Therefore, the activities of AARS, as it was known, were suspended until 1946 when, once again, AARS was allowed to go back on the air. During the years 1925 through 1942, the AARS functioned more or less as an extra curricular activity of the U. S. Army Signal Corps, its scope being necessarily limited by the meager budget of the pre-World War II depression years. The best available figures indicate that as of the 7th of December, 141, there were approximately 60,000 FCC licensed Amateurs within the United States and its possessions. Some 5600 of those Amateurs were members of the AARS. About 20% of the pre-World War II AARS members eventually entered the service of their country either in the Army or in a civilian capacity. Many thousands of regular hams also enlisted in the service of their country although some complained that radio work was denied them. 

The ARRL was instrumental in helping these civilian Hams get involved with Army Radio and Radar work through the USA Calling column.  The U. S. Army realized the great importance of reactivating the AARS to train vitally needed communications personnel at a relatively inexpensive direct cost to the U.S. government. Therefore, in 1946, the AARS was reactivated and functioned as such until the creation of the Military Amateur Radio System in 1948.  It was later renamed the Military Amateur Radio System (MARS) with Army MARS and the newly formed Air Force MARS reflecting the creation of the Air Force as a separate service. In early 1963, the Navy-Marine Corps MARS was established. MARS has grown in all of the services throughout the world. They rely on our civilian and military MARS members to be available in case of emergency or disaster to provide communications support. At such times, they need all of the support MARS can provide. Amateur Radio collectively with MARS has made its mark in American history. Each year provides new evidence of the important role Amateur Radio with MARS plays in the service of the nation.

Much of the regular activities of the AARS would be recognizable today.  Traffic handling, Learning Net control and so on.  In those days a competition with other regions through the copying the yearly WWI Armistice Day Message was a major event.  Nowadays our members strive to copy the Secretary of Defenses May 15th Armed forces day message!  In the early days close operation with active Military units had AARS members operating with active Army units on maneuvers!  Some MARS units still participate but it is doubtful any are invited to operate in a bunker with live fire overhead to allow realistic operations now adays.  Then as now Military extension courses were made available with the "Elementary Military Cryptography" course being very popular with AARS members.  One can only choose to wonder if this was in any way part of our success in breaking Japanese and German codes in WWII.