Veteran DXpedition Leader Bob Allphin, K4UEE, SK


Prolific DXpedition leader, ARRL Maxim Society member, and former Chair of the ARRL DX Advisory Committee, Robert C. “Bob” Allphin, Jr., K4UEE, has become a Silent Key. Allphin passed on February 10 at the age of 79. His early life as the son of a United States Air Force (USAF) officer sent him to many corners of the globe. That set the tenor for a life in amateur radio spent operating from far-flung places.

Allphin was first licensed at the age of 14 and graduated high school in Okinawa, Japan. He served a career in the USAF, serving as an instructor in electronic warfare during the Vietnam conflict. After an honorable discharge with the rank of captain, Allphin entered the financial services world, retiring after 28 years to focus on his passion of DXpeditions.

Allphin was a natural leader. “Bob was always optimistic and hopeful in DXpedition planning. He encouraged and coaxed his fellow team members to bring out the best in everyone. If there were disappointments, he turned them into humor and diplomatically mitigated conflicts. He excelled in DXpedition PR and financing,” said Ralph Fedor, K0IR, who frequently co-led DXpeditions with Allphin.

“Bob was very good at organizing and motivating people to participate,” said Dr. Glenn Johnson, W0GJ, who co-led several DXpeditions with Allphin. Allphin always found a way to make the best out of challenging operating conditions. “He was always thinking outside the box. His concern was to put on the ‘best show’ possible and work the hard-to-reach areas,” said Johnson.

In early 2000, Johnson was preparing to travel to a medical assignment in Bhutan, which was #2 on the DXCC Most Wanted List at the time. He had applied to operate while in the country but was initially denied a license. Then, in April, Johnson got a call from the Bhutan Ministry of Information and Communication asking if he can bring a team on the first of May. Immediately, he involved Allphin. “I called Bob, and within 2 weeks we had a team assembled and equipment shipped over. A52A was a very successful DXpedition and still holds records,” said Johnson.

Iconic activations were Allphin’s specialty. According to his QRZ page, Allphin participated in, led, or co-led DXpeditions to 11 of the top 10, including: Baker and Howland islands, Heard Island, Bhutan, South Sandwich Islands, South Georgia Island, Peter I Island, Lakshadweep, Desecheo Island, Saba/Sint Eustatius, Amsterdam Island, and Navassa Island. In all, he participated in 38 contest DXpeditions.

“From the mid-80s through the early 2000s, Bob set five single operator/single band world records and was a competitor in two World Radio Team Championships (WRTC) events in 1996 and 2000. Bob is a member of the CQ DX Hall of Fame, Board of Directors of [The International DX Association] INDEXA, current President of The KP1-5 Project. He is a member of the Voodoo Contest Group, FOC (First Class Operator Club), A-1 Operators Club, [and] the Southeastern DX Club Hall of Fame. He has visited 131 DXCC entities and been QRV from 85,” according to his QRZ page.

In addition to planning and leading trips, Allphin also excelled at videography to tell their stories. A documentary filmed by Allphin about the 2015 K1N Navassa DXpedition is available on YouTube.

Allphin was a dedicated amateur radio mentor who wanted to help others succeed. Craig Thompson, K9CT, was one of many Allphin helped along the way. “As an aspiring DXpeditioner, Bob was so approachable and helpful. We had many common friends, and because of those relationships, it was an honor to be asked to join any of his DXpeditions. At Amsterdam Island, he was my roommate, and I enjoyed his sincere joy of leading our team. He loved 160 and CW but mostly the challenge of doing something really hard, like going where they said he couldn’t go. That is why he was on so many top-ten DXpeditions! What an honor to know him,” said Thompson.

Beyond his prowess as an operator, Allphin leaves a legacy of kindness among those who knew him well. “He was a gentleman’s gentleman, always cordial, friendly, and jovial,” said Johnson.

Allphin was a generous donor to ARRL through the years, being honored as part of the President Class of the Maxim Society and was a member of the Diamond Club. He was a major gift donor to the 2014 ARRL Second Century Campaign. “Bob leaves amateur radio with a legacy of accomplishments. Above all, he strove to do things well, do things right, and do things fairly,” said Fedor.

Information about memorial services, as well as more details about Allphin’s many non-radio accomplishments, may be found in his online obituary. A photo memorial has been assembled by photographer Tom Roscoe, K8CX, at

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