Impressions are forever, here are some times recalled...
From: "Jim O'Connell"
As per Paul's comment, I am passing it to you. First flight for everybody has got to be memorable. I got off a Connie all dressed up in bunny boots, mini pockets, parka (the works). Found a SeaBee setting in a running truck, climbed in, he asked "where to" and I said "I have no idea."
Flight of a different nature. We got an H-34 from SDLM (PAR or O&R at that time) but it was painted charcoal gray. The skipper launched it for one flight to the dry valleys and then launched a SAR situation to find it. Never did. Brought it back home and painted it orange before it ever flew again. I am of the old school and by that, I took personal offense when the U. S. Navy seen fit to rename "My old Squadron" from Airdevron SIX (VX-6) to Antarctic Development Squadron SIX (VXE-6) but I supported it just the same because all of my shipmates were just that, my shipmates.
In the old days, we simply had 318, 319, 320, 321, 624, 644 and 917 (I have to apologize to Larry Lister and the rest of the helo guys because I can't remember the helo numbers. I also apologize to the R5 and P2 guys for the same reason). Hercs for me to the Pole, Helos got me to the dry valleys and Connies got me to Christchurch.
We flew and maintained all of these aircraft, not to build a history for one particular aircraft, but to accomplish a mission and everybody after me continued that same purpose. Sure, we had crew spirits and that was a big contributing factor to the overall attitude of the squadron. Guys on the Hill squabbled with guys on the strip and Pole Station kept stealing Willie Fields maniquin in a binking and we would hold the fuel in ransom but, when we came back to Quonset, we did not have seperate crew tables at Custys, the QI, the Hilltop Inn, The Club at Davisville, the Club at Quonset or even drinking Naragansett at the Marine Barracks. We were all 6'ers and that is the way we lived, played and fought (other crowds). I don't remember anybody asking what part of the squadron the next guy was when we all jumped out of the barracks windows to take on the Marine Barracks.
Well said, Jim !!!
Over the years, people have lost sight of the fact that there were more than one type of aircraft involved in Deep Freeze than just the 130's, especially after 72 when the Squadron ended up with just 130' and UH-1N helicopters. I forgive the later Deep Freezer's because they did not have the privilege to work on the older, original workhorses involved in keeping the operation going. I was primarily helo type, but during the summers back at Quonset, I had the "privilege" of flying the Connie and some on the 130's, and the Goon's. I considered it a "privilege" because "we were all in this together". I remember several times taking fixed wingers along with me on the H-34 to get "time", and I did not mind it one bit because we were all one unit, regardless of the aircraft assigned. If a 130 is what can be obtained for a museum to represent VX/VXE-6, fine. AS LONG AS IT IS REPRESENTATIVE OF THE SQUADRON, AND OPERATION DEEP FREEZE !! Not just ASA, or NSF, or some other special interest group. I would dearly love to be rich enough to establish just an "Antarctic/Operation Deep Freeze" museum, with a representative type of each aircraft the Squadron flew, from 1955 to dis-establishment. But...... realistically, this will never be. So, the next best thing, would be what is in the mill now. Go for it !!!!!
Amen to Jim, I was just a little old parachute rigger and laid claim to no particular aircraft as long as it had a door or ramp from which I could exit in freefall (after my first couple of static lines) But I outfitted all of them and sewed for a lot of non-aircrew types. And I made birdcloths for, it seemed sometime, every body on the Ice; regardless of affiliation. I was mostly a hill puke my first tour, but it was a pleasure to walk to the strip, while making sure I kept the red and green flags on the right side of my body, to get some of that fresh milk brought in by the flight crews or help recover beer sinking when one of the sleds being towed by a SeaBee in a D-8 lost its footing as it approached the hill. Of course, that is when you could see the strip from the hill. I also recall jumping ice flows to get from place to place while watching the sun begin to set on another winter and wandering if I was really going to get out or would I have to winter-over (no offense to Billy Baker, Squatty Richards and a few others that chose to do it more than one time), which was not really one of my fondest dreams. I enjoyed every minute I spent in Operation Deepfreeze and would do it all over again given the chance and the same commraderie. Notice I said Operation Deepfreeze, not VX-6/VXE-6/ASA/NSFA or any other of the accronyms being spit out. When I first applied for duty there, you put in a chit to volunteer for duty with Operation Deepfreeze. You didn't just get assigned by some detailer. And for some who almost did, you could make a career out of it because you also had to put in a chit to leave.
From: "Anderson, Wayne J. ASCM"
Jim you said that very well and I agree, whole heartedly. Those of us who have traveled south share a bond that goes far beyond the name of the squadron, the aircraft we flew or even the mascot we chose to represent us. Each of us has experienced the Antarctic Continent and that fact alone stands us apart from the rest of the worlds population. We are a group of people whose Courage, Sacrifice and Devotion were the key that facilitated exploration and unlocked the secrets of a continent.
I'm still on active duty and no mater where I go, when I see that ice cold ribbon of the Antarctic Service Medal on the chest of a Sailor, I know we have a commonality that no one else in the room can comprehend. It doesn't matter that I was there 25 years before them, that we were there is enough.
At this point it seems that we have an opportunity to set in place a monument to remind those less fortunate, less traveled individuals of the world that there were men and women in the United States Navy who for 44 years did their job very well.
To all involved..... Go for it!!!
And Jim thanks for bringing back some great memories, hadn't thought about Custy's or the Marine Barracks in a long time.
ASCM Wayne Anderson
From: Paul Panehal
My first flight and landings on the Ice were NEAT! At least that's the way I look at them now. It was the first or second 121 flight to the Ice during Sept/Oct 1965. I was on C-121J-121624 and the approach was straight and smooth in the pitch blackness of the Antarctic day, for one of the first flights to the Ice. It was a pure text book approach. Then the wheels touched down and the aircraft started to slide side-ways down the ice runway. An interesting feeling when you are sitting aft of the main wing on the starboard side. I know, I could see lights (runway markers, I guess) slowly orient themselves into my view, before I realized I could see the markers or lights on both sides of the runway. Just about everyone was calm, even though they could tell we were sliding sideways.
After we stopped moving nearly everyone got up and started to move toward the rear of the aircraft. Then, I noticed another phenomenon. The tail of the aircraft was starting to rock backwards. The weight of all the bodies moving to the rear of the plane off-set the aircraft's' center of gravity. This is when the shouting began "Get back in you seats!", "Move toward the front of the plane!". Between the intercom, Jimmy F. and the rest of the crew shouting you couldn't tell what they were saying, but they were sure upset about something. Then, I saw Jimmy grabbing people and pulling them toward the front of the plane and telling them one by one to go all the way forward and not to stop, as he worked his way toward the rear of the aircraft. The aircraft teetered some then settled back on the nose wheel. I remember finally getting off the plane and asking about the tail support which now hung from the tail toward the ground. The other thing which was very apparent, was it was pitch black, and each of the folks who met the aircraft had flashlights, and I wish I had mine where I could get it. Not so mind jarring was the ride from the Strip to the Hill in a enclosed tracked vehicle.
So in my book making a flight to the Ice in a Connie was sufficient. To make the trip as many times as the crew did deserves a special medal - that was hazardous duty!
From: Dave Riley
Averaged last 2 yrs @ 62-30South on 644 'the connie'. Was glad of the best maintenance plan we had, especially when looking down on whitecaps and bergs as big as cities. We never thought of aircraft failure..
See R7V Super Connie story...
From: Paul Panehal
My first year in the shops on the Ice were assigned split tours at the Hill and Strip, and the Ch-Ch shop was basically stuck in Ch-Ch. My second tour I was to take LC-47H 17221 to the Ice but, the weather was too bad during late November (considered the best time of the year to fly LC-47s and 117s to the Ice) and our crew was stuck in Ch-Ch for the season. Then I received PCS orders to Det. Ch-Ch to fly on 17221 and for the following three years operated in support of Deep Freeze Operations within NZ. During the off-season we operated for the Nav and the Embassy - lots of PAO flights and helped fellow aircrew personnel get their flight time. Not to forget our most important flights for Dick and his team of ParaRescue folks.
Concerning the isolated stations on the Ice, although I have made many trips to SP Station and got off the aircraft for loading and unloading cargo or fuel for the aircraft - I can not say I really went to the SP. I never went inside SP Station or Byrd, or any of the other isolated stations I set foot at, in the process of performing my job. God knows many of us never had the luxury of 'visiting' at the various stations we supplied through out the operating season.