Vol 6, No. 5
109th Begins Antarctic Support Missions
By Maj. Robert Bullock
109th Airlift Wing
The last of five ski-equipped C-130 (LC-130) aircraft was launched from the Stratton Air National Guard Base in Scotia late in October on the historic Antarctic deployment. Over the course of the next four months, the aircraft and personnel of 109th are taking part in OPERATION DEEP FREEZE, the Department of Defense's mission in support of the National Science Foundation's (NSF) U.S. Antarctic Program (USAP).
This is the first time that the 109th assumes program responsibility over ski-equipped heavy airlift to the South Pole and outlying science camps located throughout Antarctica. The unit took over the responsibility from the U.S. Navy in official transition ceremonies held at the Pentagon in March.
The Navy had been providing the service to the international scientific community since 1955. The 109th had been supporting the Navy in Antarctica since 1988.
In an inaugural tribute to the link that is being created between New York and U.S. scientific research in Antarctica, members of the 109th carried two New York State flags to the South Pole. One of these flags will be returned to the State Capitol for later display in the State Museum. The second flag will remain with 109th personnel at their Antarctic staging base in Christchurch, New Zealand where it will be displayed as a reminder of the support the deployed members of the 109th carry during their missions.
The award of the NSF support mission has meant an economic windfall to the people of Schenectady County. Through the hiring of 230 new full-time, uniformed members to support the mission, the annual economic impact of the 109th is $75.6 million. Additionally, military construction projects has resulted in an additional $35 million in capital investment over the last five years at the Schenectady base.
When it is not flying support missions for the NSF, the 109th performs other missions. In September, the 109th joined the 105th Airlift Wing to deliver life-giving humanitarian relief supplies to Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic devastated by hurricanes.New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs: October-December 1998 Issue of Guard Times