What is an OAE
Thanks to Jungle Jim for this expose...
Hey all -- There's been a blizzard of e-mail about OAEs and FNGs. Decided to put some thoughts down and need your feedback/thoughts. We were all blessed (or cursed) by our Antarctic experiences and inherited an envious legacy. The sacrifices we made are part of that exclusivity and formed a unique bond.
Thoughts? I'm sure people will jump up and down and say what about these guys or that group? No slight intended. Mea culpa. There are gaps in my historical knowledge.
What is an OAE?
(By Jungle Jim O'Leary, JOC Retired, DF' 75-'80)
We sailed with Capt. James Cook and first found the continent.
We landed with Nathaniel Palmer of Stonington, Conn., the first
American to set foot on the ice.
We chafed and mutinied against Lt. Charles Wilkes when he sailed the
We were with Lt. Dumont D'urville when he named the Adelie penguin
after his wife.
We argued with Capt. Bellinghausen over ownership.
We wintered-over for the first time with Carstens Borchgevrink.
We went aloft with Ernest Shackleton in a balloon on the first
expedition and were with him when he made his epic journey to rescue his men
We were with the scientist/artist Dr. Edward Wilson when he and his
crew collected penguin eggs for research.
We triumped with Roald Amundsen and his fellow Norweigians and died
with Capt. Robert Scott and his British expedition.
We were with Sir Douglas Mawson when he discovered and named a fish for himself.
We flew with Richard E. Byrd over the South Pole and collected rocks
with Larry Gould and Norman Vaughn.
We photographed what existed of the continent during Operation HighJump.
We were with Gus Shinn when he landed at the South Pole for the first
time and wondered if he would ever get off the plateau.
We shivered with Sir Vivian Fuchs and Sir Edmund Hilary in their trans-Antarctic expedition.
We were the VXE-6 pilots and air crewmen who flew boring, sometimes
terrifying, flights "rickety rack to the Pole and back," Siple Station, Dome
Charlie, Vostok and other points on the continent on our fixed wing and
rotary aircraft. We were the first to almost all Antarctic landmarks and
areas, dropping off the Seabees and scientists. We did this for 45 years, the
longest consistent deployment by any Navy unit.
We were the Seabees who built MacTown, the South Pole Station and named
an airfield after one of ours. We also built all the outlying stations which
the scientists needed to conduct their studies. We did this from the very
beginning. Outlying camps could not have existed without us providing the basic necessities.
We were the winter over personnel who maintained the stations during the
dark and incredibly cold winters. We endured the loneliness and isolation of
being away from our loved ones under trying circumstances. We grew beards,
developed thousand-yard stares and killed "Antarctic dragons" in our spare time.
We were the support personnel who provided vital services for the
squadron and the Seabees so they could do their jobs. Our jobs ranged from the mundane to the sublime.
We were the scientists and research personnel who were tasked by the
National Science Foundation to find answers to problems and to continue
research. We tried to find a cure for the cold, analyze weather patterns and
understand the history of the world through strata of the ice.
We were the helo crew that died on a desolate hillside.
We were there for the recovery of bodies of the Air New Zealand flight.
We were the Coasties who crunched their way through the ice to deliver
much- needed stores and supplies.
We were the sailors who offloaded and unloaded necessary equipment as
we resupplied the troops on the ice.
We were the Air Force personnel who delivered people and cargo during
the opening months of annual operations.
We were the Marines who helped form the first Para-rescue team and flew our aircraft.
We were the Army transportation specialists who made sure people and
their stuff got from Point A to Point B.
We were the Argentinians who built the first colony and we were there
when the first Antarctican was born.
We were the Russians stationed at Vostok Station, one of the coldest
places, even in Antarctica, and looked to a re-supply event once a year.
We were the New Zealanders at neighboring Scott base who taught people
the art of really throwing darts.
We were the British, Italian, French and other nationalities who
conducted their own research in various sciences.
We were the artists and writers who came to the ice and recorded our
impressions for all to see.
We are heirs to a distinguished legacy which began with Captain Cook
and continues to this day. We were inter-dependent on each other and to think
otherwise would be sheer folly. We cannot afford to disregard our past or
neglect the future. We focused on our missions and did what was demanded of
us. Some of us died in the ultimate tribute to our professionalism. We worked
hard, played hard and developed a unique bond for a continent which required
our utmost. We cloak ourselves in the mantle of mystique and uniqueness which
defines the OAE.
Many are cold. Few are frozen.