Dispatches from Antarctica


Dispatches from AntarcticaBlog Posts | About OPERATION: DEEP FREEZE | Meet Lt. Col. Vaughan

The Series

Dispatches from Antarctica provides an inside look at OPERATION: DEEP FREEZE, the military’s support of National Science Foundation (NSF) research in Antarctica. The series features daily blog posts from US Air Force Lt. Col. Ed Vaughan, commander of the McMurdo Station Detachment of Joint Task Force – Support Forces Antarctica, covering the people, places, and things he encounters during his 50 days supporting NSF’s science mission.

Do you have a question for Lt. Col. Vaughan? Anything you’d like to learn about Antarctica? Leave a comment on this page or any of his blog posts!

Blog Posts

42. Nov 20, 2010: Relentless Execution: The Final Dispatch from Antarctica
41. Nov 19, 2010: Super-Pressure Balloon Launch [video]
40. Nov 18, 2010: Making the Grade: Kinser Elementary School
39. Nov 17, 2010: Making the Grade: Osan American Elementary School
38. Nov 16, 2010: Making the Grade: DoDEA Guam High School
37. Nov 15, 2010: Making the Grade: Arnold Elementary School
36. Nov 12, 2010: Recycling Rocket Bottles is a Blast [video 1, video 2]
35. Nov 10, 2010: Never-before-seen Penguin Feeding and Nest Tending Videos
34. Nov 10, 2010: Advancing STEM Education through Penguin Research
33. Nov 9, 2010: Joint Airdrop Inspection [video]
32. Nov 8, 2010: Penguins Marching Into Your Classroom #1
31. Nov, 7, 2010: Cockpit Views of a Ski Takeoff and Landing [takeoff, landing]
30. Nov 6, 2010: Tour of McMurdo General Hospital [video]
29. Nov 1, 2010: Contributing to Marine Pollution by Washing Your Face [video, photos]
28. Oct 29, 2010: Scientists Chase the Ozone Hole [video, photos]
27. Oct 28, 2010: Tragedy on the Ice [video]
26. Oct 27, 2010: LC-130 Landing from Pilot’s Point of View [video]
25. Oct 26, 2010: LC-130s Arrive: All Hail the Ski-Bird! [video, photos]
24. Oct 20, 2010: Dark Side of the World [video, photos]
23. Oct 19, 2010: Renewable Energy Powering Research Stations [video]
22. Oct 18, 2010: The Ice is Alive with the Sound of Music [video]
21. Oct 17, 2010: Iron Chef Antarctica [video]
20. Oct 16, 2010: When James Bond Meets Grizzly Adams on Skis [video]
19. Oct 15, 2010: In Their Own Words: C-17 Pilots Visit McMurdo Station [video]
18. Oct 14, 2010: Repairing a Crack in the Seasonal Ice Runway [video]
17. Oct 13, 2010: Where’s the romance?
16. Oct 12, 2010: Weather Conditions “Like No Other” [video]
15. Oct 11, 2010: Dr. Pauline Yu Talks Sea Urchins and Climate Change [video]
14. Oct 10, 2010: Living at McMurdo Station #1 [video]
13. Oct 9, 2010: Military Science Liaisons Provide Essential “Lifeline”
12. Oct 8, 2010: Interview with Aeromedical Evacuation Technician [video]
11. Oct 7, 2010: Interview with Laboratory Science Manager [video]
10. Oct 6, 2010: Lost and Found Frozen
9. Oct 5, 2010: A Birthday Greeting [video]
8. Oct 4, 2010: Super-Pressure Balloons Key to International Research Project [photos]
7. Oct 3, 2010: Former Winter Olympian Back on the Ice [video]
6. Oct 2, 2010: The Coolest Promotion Ceremony Ever
5. Oct. 1, 2010: Night Vision Goggle Training Mission [video, photos]
4. Sept. 30, 2010: Interagency Support of Science
3. Sept. 29, 2010: C-17 Ice Landing Video [video]
2. Sept. 28, 2010: Flight to the Ice
1. Sept. 27, 2010: Before the Ice

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About OPERATION: DEEP FREEZE

United States Antarctic Program (USAP)

United States Antarctic Program (USAP) logo

Today, Operation DEEP FREEZE (ODF) is a joint service, on-going Defense Support to Civilian Authorities (DSCA) activity in support of the National Science Foundation (NSF), lead agency for the United States Antarctic Program (USAP).  Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS) designated the Commander, US Pacific Command (CDRUSPACOM), be responsible for execution of this DSCA operation.   CDRUSPACOM created Joint Task Force – Support Forces Antarctica (JTF-SFA) to carry out ODF, and appointed the Commander, 13th Air Force, to also serve as Commander, JTF-SFA (CJTF-SFA).

Within the scope provided by NSF policy and direction, JTF-SFA forces coordinate with inter-agency and international partners to provide air and maritime cargo and passenger transport throughout the Antarctic Joint Operations Area (JOA).   JTF-SFA forces consist of active duty, Guard and Reserve personnel from the U.S. Air Force, Navy, Army, and Coast Guard as well as DOD civilians and attached non-DOD civilians.  ODF operates from two primary locations situated at Christchurch, New Zealand and McMurdo Station, Antarctica.  Under the NSF’s lead, ODF works closely with other national Antarctic programs, to include those of New Zealand, Australia, and Italy. (learn more…)

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Meet Lt. Col. Ed Vaughan

Lt. Col. Edward Vaughan, Commander, 13th Expeditionary Support Squadron, Joint Task Force - Support Forces Antarctica.

Lt. Col. Edward Vaughan, Commander, 13th Expeditionary Support Squadron, Joint Task Force – Support Forces Antarctica.

Lieutenant Colonel Ed “Hertz” Vaughan is deployed to McMurdo Station, Antarctica for 50 days as commander of the Joint Task Force – Support Forces Antarctica (JTF-SFA) detachment, supporting the United States Antarctic Program (USAP). During the early part of the 2010-11 austral summer season, he will serve as senior U.S. military officer in Antarctica, supporting the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) science mission. When not deployed, Colonel Vaughan serves as Chief, Joint Operations and Plans on JTF-SFA staff at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, where he reports to the Deputy Commander, JTF-SFA.

Col Vaughan began his military flying career by serving part-time in the New York Air National Guard’s 109th Airlift Wing as an LC-130 polar navigator and later, pilot. He first deployed to the Greenlandic icecap in 1992 and began flying Operation DEEP FREEZE (ODF) missions in Antarctica during the 1993-94 USAP season. He subsequently participated in six more ODF seasons, in both flying and non-flying roles. (see full biography…)

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  • Kathleenprokopa12

    Dear Lt. Col. Vaughan

    My name is Kathleen O Prokop

    I am a member of Diamond Valley Arts Council

    Diamond Valley Arts Council operates Esplanade Arts Center

    We would like perhaps some photos of dispatches from Antarctica and videos as well with naration

    If you would call so you can make arrangments to exhibit photos and videos with naration at the Esplanade Arts Center

    Thank you so much

    Kathleen O Prokop
    DVAC Member
    FOA committee member
    EAC volunteer docent

  • Lt. Col. Ed Vaughan

    Dear Ms. Prokop,Thank you for your kind offer. I visited the DVAC website and appreciate what you do for the community. While I’m not much of an artist, I’ll discuss your proposal with our producers and get back to you with some ideas. I’ll certainly share this with the independent photographers and videographers, many of them on science teams, who helped me put these stories together. If you’re interested, I can have them contact you directly.Of potential interest along the theme of the arts in Antarctica, the NSF previously sponsored artists and writers in residence as part of the US Antarctic Program. Once these talented people leave Antarctica, they often seek venues through which to showcase their amazing creative work. There is an information webpage here. Finally, one of the former commanders of the deployed military forces here, Col Ron Smith, recently published an illustrated book of poems inspired by his work in Antarctica. Other Antarctic poems are featured on his website. He regularly collaborates with other Antarctic-themed artists to install exhibits at various venues as well.I’m glad you wrote in and reminded me how important the arts are to keeping balance and perspective in places like Antarctica. Look for an upcoming vblog about the local musical talent at McMurdo Station. Sincerely,Ed

  • Catholichippy

    Hi. Lt. Col Vaughan. We live in Lafayette, Louisiana. We love this website. It has taught us so much about Antarctica. A friend of mine has a 9 year old daughter, Amari, that would like to do her social studies project on Operation Deep Freeze and the Antarctica. She plans on ustilizing your web posts for content. How hard would it be to get a video or blog “shout out” to her class?

    Thank you for your time,

    Heather Manrique

  • Eric Eisaman

    Dear Lt. Col. Vaughan,

    I teach high school Physics and Earth Space Science for DoDEA Guam High School. My students are interested in any fascinating natural wonders/events you may have video/photo archived throughout your years of experience in the polar regions. My students’ interests range from “Wondering how fast water freezes in the polar regions” to “The peculiar nature of flying planes near the poles”. Also, my students are currently formulating questions to submit to you this week if you are available for reply.

    Respectfully,
    Eric Eisaman
    DoDEA Teacher

  • Lt. Col. Ed Vaughan

    Yes, I would be delighted to answer questions your students might have.  I have access to some of the world’s leading scientists here.  So I hope if I can’t provide an answer, then one my distinguished colleagues here might.  Given our work schedule here, I may have to answer a few at a time depending on the difficulty level.

    On the subject of flying near the poles, allow me to pose these questions back to your students in order to help us frame the discussion.

    What is the difference between the Magnetic South Pole and the Geographic South Pole?  What is the difference between true and magnetic heading? What are isogonic lines and how do they influence magnetic compass readings?  Most modern airplanes have both magnetic compasses and gyroscopic compasses of some sort.  Given the relationship between the Geographic South Pole and the Magnetic South Pole, and especially the density of isogonic lines in the region, which describes the rate of change of magnetic variation, magnetic compasses are next to useless here for flying. Once you’ve digested all these questions, ponder this bonus question: if one were standing directly on the point that is the Geographic South Pole, facing true north, and that person turn 90 degrees to the right, still on the same point, what would be the new true direction faced?

    On a related note, I want to thank you for your work as a high school teacher, particularly inspiring young people in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) subjects.  My high school physics teacher, Mr. Gerald Fujii, inspired me to study engineering in college and eventually go into aviation as a career.

    More to follow…

  • Lt. Col. Ed Vaughan

    Dear Heather,

    Who dat? As my little sister, you’re under no obligation to call me “Lt Col”. J In any event, please pass a cold and frosty SHOUT OUT to Amari and her social studies class in Lafayette, Louisiana.

    Armed with Science producer, Dr. John Ohab, is working with some DODEA schools to gather a few questions for those living on the ice here. I’d suggest having Amari send any questions she may have to Dr. Ohab for inclusion in that series. Here is a link to a story about a famous Eagle Scout who was selected to travel to Antarctica with Admiral Byrd. Paul Siple went on to Antarctic fame in his own right:

    Meanwhile, check out the Oct 18th blog for a bit on the music in Antarctica. As a Lafayette resident, you can appreciate that Zydeco, an American folk music suitable for dancing during the coldest of blizzards, is quite popular in some circles here. Of course, the Grammy-winning “King of Zydeco”, Clifton Chenier, is favored, while CJ Chenier, Zydeco Force, and Chris Ardoin get a fair share of headset play as well.

    Look for an upcoming blog on the McMurdo helicopter operation, carried out by PHI Helicopters, based in Lafayette. And if you can secure permission from one of the local musicians, we may be able to dub some good Louisiana music over one of the next videos from the ice.

    I miss y’all there in Cajun country. Love, big brother.

  • Eric Eisaman

    Lt. Col. Vaughan,

    Thanks for the gracious response. My students would like clarification on the bonus question. Specifically, is “true north” equivalent to “geographic north” , “magnetic north”, or neither?

    Here are a few of the hodgepodge of questions submitted:

    Other than extreme cold temperature, what advantages exist for scientists, besides scientists specifically studying the polar region, in Antarctica?

    What kinds of hydrolic, brake, and other fluids do the C-130s run with in order to prevent freezing?

    How do you prevent ice from forming on the control surfaces both on the ground and in the air?

    What kind of animals are there (where you are in Antarctica)?

    What are the seasonal differences in weather at the base?

    How equipped and manned is the medical unit at your base?

    How are the quarters on the base, in terms of weather resistance and durability?

    What do you do in your free time?

    What is the highest UV level recorded at the station.

    I would like to know, as a future member of the USAF, what high school/college course would I need for being a fighter pilot and for air maintainance? What kind of courses will I need to take for special forces in the Air Force.

    Are there any unique cooking styles or methods employed at the base?

    What is the tidal range for the nearest bay?

    What is the local gravity?

    Is the base conducting any research which may eventually influence the field of psychology?

    Thanks so much Lt. Col. Vaughan.

    Regards,
    Eric Eisaman
    DoDEA Teacher

  • LT Mike G

    Hi Lt Col Ed Vaughan,

    I am in the Air National Guard serving overseas right now in SW Asia, Ive been Active Duty and now the Air National Guard, prior enlisted and now as an officer. I have traveled to many countries and almost all of the States. I always wanted to serve and assist in any way possible in Antarctica. I am a Communications Officer; are there any volunteer assignments available, or would you have any suggestions on how I may be able to assist with a mission in this special area of the world.

    Thanks for your time

    LT Mike G

  • Nighttracker1

    I’m trying to get down there as a firefighter been one here in wisconsin for 3 years… could u send me an email on info how to do

  • Slimshady_86_99

    I’m in the US Army and I’m wondering how exactly I volunteer to do a tour in Antarctica?

  • Edward Vaughan

    In order to answer the questions about serving in Antarctica, I have to
    provide some background on the military’s role in the mission. Bottom
    line is that your chances of serving in Antarctica are better as a
    civilian, working through the primary contractor’s human resource
    office, than trying to deploy as a military member.

    The United States Antarctic Program (USAP) is a standing inter-agency
    activity led by the National Science Foundation. By Presidential
    directive, DOD plays a subordinate, support role to NSF’s science and
    research objectives in Antarctica. Aside from specific aircraft and
    ship operations, the vast majority of USAP support functions are
    performed by civilian government contractors, not military members. The
    military portion of the USAP is referred to as Operation Deep Freeze.

    Operation Deep Freeze is executed by Joint Task Force – Support Forces
    Antarctica (JTF-SFA), under US Pacific Command. As a standing Defense
    Support of Civil Authorities (DSCA) mission, the force providers for
    deployed military personnel are primarily assigned to USTRANSCOM and
    include both active and reserve components of the US Air Force and US
    Navy. Because the mission is highly specialized, the best way to get
    involved as a military member is to arrange an assignment to one of the
    force provider units. With the exception of the medical corps, military
    members are not typically drawn from deployment buckets at large. So
    you’ll need to be assigned to one of a handful of units.

    For the Air Force, C-17 personnel deploy forward from the 62d Airlift
    Wing (active duty) and the 446th Airlift Wing (AF Reserve Command), both
    based at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington. LC-130 personnel deploy
    forward from the military’s only ski-plane unit, the New York Air
    National Guard’s 109th Airlift Wing at Stratton ANGB, New York. On the
    Navy side, ships from the Military Sealift Command and cargo handlers
    from Navy Cargo Handling Battalion – One deploy forward.

    Given that background, if you’re still interested in serving, then I
    recommend you contact your military assignments personnel and try to get
    to one of the force provider units.

  • Edward Vaughan

    In order to answer the questions about serving in Antarctica, I have to
    provide some background on the military’s role in the mission. Bottom
    line is that your chances of serving in Antarctica are better as a
    civilian, working through the primary contractor’s human resource
    office, than trying to deploy as a military member.

    The United States Antarctic Program (USAP) is a standing inter-agency
    activity led by the National Science Foundation. By Presidential
    directive, DOD plays a subordinate, support role to NSF’s science and
    research objectives in Antarctica. Aside from specific aircraft and
    ship operations, the vast majority of USAP support functions are
    performed by civilian government contractors, not military members. The
    military portion of the USAP is referred to as Operation Deep Freeze.

    Operation Deep Freeze is executed by Joint Task Force – Support Forces
    Antarctica (JTF-SFA), under US Pacific Command. As a standing Defense
    Support of Civil Authorities (DSCA) mission, the force providers for
    deployed military personnel are primarily assigned to USTRANSCOM and
    include both active and reserve components of the US Air Force and US
    Navy. Because the mission is highly specialized, the best way to get
    involved as a military member is to arrange an assignment to one of the
    force provider units. With the exception of the medical corps, military
    members are not typically drawn from deployment buckets at large. So
    you’ll need to be assigned to one of a handful of units.

    For the Air Force, C-17 personnel deploy forward from the 62d Airlift
    Wing (active duty) and the 446th Airlift Wing (AF Reserve Command), both
    based at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington. LC-130 personnel deploy
    forward from the military’s only ski-plane unit, the New York Air
    National Guard’s 109th Airlift Wing at Stratton ANGB, New York. On the
    Navy side, ships from the Military Sealift Command and cargo handlers
    from Navy Cargo Handling Battalion – One deploy forward.

    Given that background, if you’re still interested in serving, then I
    recommend you contact your military assignments personnel and try to get
    to one of the force provider units.

  • http://www.fridgefreezersite.com Steven

    What type of coordination do you do with the other nationalities who have a stake in Antarctica?  Is there any tension at all?

  • Anonymous

    Steven,

    Thanks for your question. I’m not sure the answer, but I will reach out to Lt. Col. Vaughan and try to find the answer!

    -Carla | AWS Team

  • Steven

    Thanks Carla!

  • http://www.register-web-domain.in domain register

    I regularly visit your site as you have very useful and interesting resource on your blog.. I appreciate your interest towards sharing the useful stuffs. Great work you guys are doing, keep it up! 

  • echols

     will Santa visit the South Pole? Do any real children live there?