We have all heard about the unfathomable weatherman Jack Handy who was isolated at Brockton Station for many years or the story of the retired Navy Chief who lived in an abandoned CONEX box in the McMurdo dump, but how many of you have heard of Carl Disch?
Carl was a budding young Ionospheric Physicist wintering over at Byrd Station during Deep Freeze 65. Carl became an Antarctic Legend when he disappeared from Byrd Station Longwire on May 8, 1965. When Carl disappeared it was officially recorded that he had became disoriented, lost his sense of direction, and wandered away from the lifeline while transiting from Longwire to the Byrd Station main tunnel.
That may be what people want to believe, but it is not true. Carl simply vanished of his own free will. On the night of his disappearance it was just another typical Dark and Stormy Night in Antarctica. Herbie the Hawk was raging and the temperature was minus 45 degrees Fahrenheit. In spite of the severe weather conditions the station personnel mounted a lengthy and thorough search for Carl. They tied ropes to each side of a D-8 and tied themselves to the ropes at intervals, spreading out from the D-8 and walked along as the D-8 went out from the station in each direction. They thought that they would find him by sweeping the area in this manner. However, even though the process was painstakingly repeated numerous times it was all in vain. Not a trace was ever found of Carl.
Carl never revealed himself, but he became very lonely. Then on August 18 the Byrd Station Husky, Sastrugis, who was known as Gus for short also mysteriously disappeared and was never seen again. Carl had seduced the dog away from the camp by enticing him with cans of smoked oysters marinated in Fannys Secret Barbecue Sauce and Skua Gizzards pickled in fermented beetroot juice. Carl was no longer lonely and was very happy with his new companion and the two of them wandered off into the night.
For the next three years there were rumors of a ghostlike man and a dog being seen in unlikely places around the Antarctic continent. There was even talk that it was Carl Disch, but no one knew for certain. Then for the next three years the rumors were that the ghostlike man was now seen traveling alone but could sometimes be heard calling for his companion, Gus, Gus, Gus.
Then mysteriously during the winter of DF-71 messages from Carl Disch starting coming into the McMurdo Message Center via the AA2 Weather Circuit from the foreign Antarctic Stations. One week the message might come via the Russian Station and the next week it would be from the French, or it might be from the Argentine station up in the Antarctic Peninsula. The headings of the messages all had the same relay instructions. CQ CQ DE NBN NBN QSP NGD NGD.
Which translates to: ANY STATION THIS IS BROCKTON STATION PASS THIS MESSAGE TO MCMURDO STATION. When we questioned the foreign station that had relayed the message to us about the originating callsign they always confirmed that it was NBN. This was very strange because Brockton was a summer only weather station and fuel pit. At that time we did not know about Jack Handy who was incessantly broadcasting hourly surface observations in his lonely vigil year-after-year waiting for the closeout flight that would never come. Hell, we didn't even know anything about Carl Disch for that matter.
The attachment is the first message that Carl sent to McMurdo. These were printed in the McMurdo Sometimes on a weekly basis. The messages abruptly stopped around WINFLY time. If anyone is interested I will see if I can find some more of the message installments to the Sometimes.
Carl Disch was honored by having an Antarctic feature named for him as follows:
DISCH PROMONTORY: 83 34S, 162 52E. An ice covered promontory about six miles long. Extends from the east side of the Prince Andrew Plateau, in the Queen Elizabeth Range. Named by US-ACAN for Karl R. Disch. Who was lost at Byrd Station, May 8, 1965.
CARL DISCH message as intercepted by Billy Ace....
I am Carl Disch. To the world I am dead. They believe that my body is but a pinpoint frozen hard to the surface of this white continent. I say to you I, Carl Disch, live. Do not for one moment think that it was a mistake. Everything was planned. They pushed me, tormented me and bored me with their shallow lives. I left them behind disowning the race called humans.
On a bleak Saturday night six years ago I walked out the door of Longwire Station. I never returned. They searched for me, as I knew they would, following my straight deliberate steps for several miles. They never found me and not one of them realized they had been tricked. They gave up and I Carl Disch was free of them. I Carl Disch the most alone man in the world.
It has not been an easy task to sustain myself for six years. At times the endless singing of the winds almost drives me mad: I begin to long for human companionship. As quickly as the longing begins it vanishes, however, for I have been tormented, scorned, and betrayed by my fellow humans - even those who I tried to love. Yes, it seems foolhardy to willingly subject myself to such hardship and loneliness when men such as Byrd and Shackleton so narrowly escaped the effects. But my story makes theirs pale in comparison.
I am a genius. In the early recollections of my childhood I was aware that I was exceptional. They sensed it too and because of it they were afraid of me. I therefore walked away from their insecurities, paranoia and petty jealousies. Born of ordinary folks, I lived a normal life, but only to my first birthday. Now twenty-five years later, I have regained the tranquility of that first year of my life here in my shack which shifts slowly with the rest of this continent. Soon after my first birthday, my folks were killed in a vicious Nebraska tornado and I landed in an adoption home, nameless and without a worldly possession. There in the orphanage I closely watched the others. Even then, as I saw them drool and shake their senseless rattles, I knew I was above them. I was not to be one of them. Perhaps even then they were plotting against me and maybe even then Carl Disch was dreaming of getting away from these people. The pink bird which flew its painted way across the headboard of my crib. The headboard that tasted vaguely of a substance I would later identify as enamel when I rose up to lick it as all smart one year-old children tend to do, was to be a sign, a sign for the future and my salvation. Years later Byrd Station was all there was to be seen as I snuck my last look at humanity as I glanced back over my shoulder.
When I was fifteen months old, an elderly couple named Disch came, saw and adopted me. "We'll call him Carl, Carl Disch," she spoke with great enthusiasm. The agony had began.
TO BE CONTINUED
Date: Fri Jun 22, 2001 10:25 pm
Subject: Re: [OAEs] Carl Disch
My first summer, October, 1978 - Feb, 1979, on the ice I worked part time as manager of the Erebus club. One day in early December, I spent the after work hours between the Erebus and CPO clubs. The time came to close the club, tally the daily sales and secure the building for the "night." I had counted the money, filled out the proper paperwork and was putting the money in the safe. The old Erebus club had a large safe in the store room behind the bar that's purpose was truly overkill. Because of the evenings libations, I had to sit on the floor so my eyes could focus on the dial and my hands steady enough to work the combination. While I was trying to get the safe open I felt the presence of someone standing behind me. I looked over my left shoulder and saw an old man standing at the end of the bar. He was dressed in old gray cold weather gear and had a white beard and hair. I turned back to the safe, spun the dial and got up. the guy had gone from the bar, I stepped out into the main room of the club and he was nowhere in sight. There is no way someone could have gotten out of the club that fast. And, I am as certain today as I was then I had seen a man standing at the end of the bar. I made a thorough check of the club and found no one inside. I locked the club, scampered over to the CPO club where some "after hours" pickin and grinnin was going on. I told CMC Al King what had happened, and immediately became the guy who saw the ghost in the Erebus. Lt Drane, the NSFA personnel officer heard the story and immediately came asking about it. Lt Drane was into that satanic crap and had all kinds of a spin put on my story in no time. He was so excited I thought he was going to piss himself.
After I found the OAEs and told this story in response to someone mentioning Drane and he being a PNSN with VX6 in his early career. Billy Ace told me I had seen Carl Disch. Whomever it was I saw that night sure sobered me up. I took a little kidding about the event, but more honest and sincere inquiries were made of it than anything.
Subj: Re: The Legend of Carl Disch
Date: 6/21/2001 9:43:30 PM Central Daylight Time
I saw Carl when I was closing up the club one night just before all of the summer non-support pukes left.
I was the only one in the club. I was taking the money out of the register and I sensed that someone was in the club. I turned around to look and I saw a man and a dog. Thought it was Dune with him.
Dune ran against me for Mayor. I won (68-65 votes). There were only 72 in the W/O party that year. That's another story.
I put the money back in the register, turned around again and they were gone.
It scared the shit out of me! But, I know I saw someone.
Aloha - Stan
Date: Fri Jun 22, 2001 8:41 am
Subject: Re: [OAEs] The Legend of Carl Disch
Billy, Ken Falone and I were the loadmasters on the first
flight in to open up Byrd station after that winter, we made
a long low approach with a crewman at every window looking
for any sign of Disch or his trail, but we saw nothing. The
winter over guys said he was really acting strange for weeks
before he walked out...charlie