At the end of March 2001 the British members of SPRI invited those, who
could attend, to come to a reunion to commemorate the ice-sensing mission and to
honor its now Emeritus Director and founder, Dr. de Q Robin This mission had
been a collaborative effort taking place starting in the early sixties and
ending in the mid seventies. It had involved the Brits, the Danes and the
USA....namely the National Science Foundations' Office of Polar Programs and the
squadron called VX-6/VXE-6. The reunion did take place on 31 March 2001
and honored the folks who had mapped much of the under-ice geographic features
of the Antarctic Continent during the period mentioned above. The SPRI is still
an on-going and active organization, with its own fine web-site, ( see the link
on this Newseum web-site or search for SPRI ). All of this refers to the legacy
which includes many of us. It seems appropriate for me, therefore, to report on
a few of the impressions I gained as an honored guest at this affair
in Cambridge. The director of the initial Radio Echo Sounding missions had been Dr. Robin. He is now a vital and alert 80 year old and a most interesting gentleman. I sat next to him at the dinner that evening in Cambridge's Darwin Hall....it was a awesome day for me, the sole US representative for all of you VX-Sixers! Dr. Robin's principal investigator for most of the productive years, had been Dr. David J. Drewry now Vice-Chancellor of the University of Hull, UK. The reunion attendees included many former grad students, now prominent men in their own fields, all in attendance from the four corners of the globe. Dr. Drewry gave a magnificently informative speech at the reunion dinner.
His testimony better acknowledges what I can only briefly and inadequately report on here. Perhaps I can sum up this entry with the letter I carried to the Reunion, given to me thru Captain Dwight Fisher OAE USN(Retired) of the Office of Polar Programs, and signed by the Director of the National Science Foundation..................... dated March 15 2001------Dear Fellow Antarctic Explorers: "On the occasion of your reunion, I would like to extend to all of you, on the behalf of the United States Antarctic Program, our best wishes and thanks for your contributions to Antarctic Science. The data set you created by your dedicated work is still widely used today in all aspects of glaciology and other areas of earth science research n Antarctica. I welcome the opportunity to thank you for your contributions to our common scientific endeavors.
I know that Dr. De Q Robin, as Director of the Scott Polar Research Institute, was instrumental in creating the polar radio-echo-sounding mapping project. I also know that it took the combined efforts of many people---pilots, navigators, engineers, ground support crews, air traffic controllers, as well as scientists from a number of countries---to carry out this historic mission. So, to Dr. Robin and all of you celebrating the accomplishments of the "Ice Sensing Missions" during Deep Freeze '71, thru "'76 (actually it started earlier with R4D's and the Connie aircraft--ed. ).....I send our thanks, our congratulations, warmest regards and our best wishes. Thank you all for a job well done!
(signed) Karl A. Erb, Director
Finally, I have provided only a sketch of another Antarctic story that makes our involvement with Operation Deep Freeze so significant all these years since. If you would like more details please contact me and I will gladly provided mailed copies of some of the materials l have compiled in personal notebooks.
By-the-way, I took several other letters one from Brian Shoemaker, Editor of the Polar Times and a "must" subscription for all OAE's and another letter from my pre-eminent VXE-6 CO, Fred Holt.
Sincerely, Art Herr OAE VX/VXE-6 '62-'65 and '72-'75
I proudly join Fred Holt in commending the Scott Polar Research Institute for paying tribute to the Puckered Pete "Ice Sensers" next month.
I agree with Fred that it is shocking that the United States has tendered very little recognition to the members of VX-6 for this project and other magnificent flying programs in Antarctica. If one looks at a map of the continent in 1955 when the squadron was formed one can see that it was about 80% unexplored. Then look at the map 10 years later and all of the spaces had been filled in - an area larger than the United States discovered mostly by VX-6. To put it in another perspective more than Scott, Shackleton, Amundsen, Mawson and all of the other great Antarctic explorers of note.
More than Lewis and Clark and other noted explorers in American history. In addition the squadron supported all of the great traverses and field science programs that have explored much of the continent on the surface and explored the scientific mysteries of the place.
Of those scientific programs the Radio Echo Sounding Project was the most magnificent - conceived of by Dr. Gordon deQ Robin, Dr. David Drewry and others at SPRI, but carried out by VX-6. To their great credit the British led by the Scott Polar Research Institute (SPRI) laud VX-6 for their pioneering work in Antarctica much better than they were ever honored in the United States. Dr Robin who was the Director of SPRI from the early 1950's to the 1980's was the champion of that recognition. Dr. Drewry who followed him continued in that tradition. It continues today.
If any of you visit England, I recommend a trip to Cambridge to SPRI. Go during the afternoon and stay for tea. Advise them that you are coming and enjoy the attention and respect that they pay to you for being a member of VX-6.