Welcome to the Official Home of the 

VX/VXE-6 Association

Board Of Directors

 

President:  Bob McCauley

Vice President:  P K  Panehal

 Secretary/Treasurer:  Vacant

Operations Manager: Vacant

 

Chaplin:  Pete Underwood

MISSION STATEMENT

Our Mission is to provide an organization where qualified members can come together and share their memories, companionship and camaraderie. This Association also has the vision to carry the membership far into the future even after all the original qualified members are gone. The future will be in the hands of the descendants of all the qualified members for as long as there are personnel to manage the Association and keep the reunion’s going. Our foundation needs to be strong now to make it easier for future generations.

By-Laws

 

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Some
 History of Antarctic Development Squadron Six

The Puckered Penguins of VX/VXE-6

VX/VXE-6 has its roots in “Operation High Jump”, the fourth Antarctic Expedition conducted by Rear Admiral (USN) Richard Byrd. In December 1946, the expedition, involving sea-based Martin PBMs and land-based Douglas R4Ds, set out to conduct an extensive aerial survey of Antarctica. Based in the Ross Sea ice pack, they eventually mapped about 1.5 million square miles of the interior and 5,500 miles of coastline.

Established as Air Development Squadron SIX (VX-6) at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland on 17 January 1955, the squadron’s mission was to conduct operations in support of U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) responsibilities in connection with the U.S. Antarctic Research Program (USARP) – this mission was designated Operation Deep Freeze (DF).

 

Note: DF summer-support “seasons” span the austral summer and are typically considered to be the months of October through February. Originally, Operation Deep Freeze was to last only the period of the 1957 International Geophysical Year (IGY) – including two years on either side of 1957 to support the building of seven Antarctic research stations before 1957 and the conclusion of all that research during the two years after 1957. Those summer seasons were designated DF-I (1955-56) through DF-IV (1958-59). After the IGY, the National Science Foundation (NSF) decided there was no agency or contractor that could match the military’s logistics support in Antarctica, and the DOD agreed to continue the DF mission – and Operation Deep Freeze continues today. After DF-IV, subsequent summer support seasons were designated DF’60, DF’61, and so on.

 

Following its return from Deep Freeze-I in February 1956, VX-6 was relocated to NAS Quonset Point, RI (this was also the home of Naval Construction Battalion 200, which had been formed to do the construction of facilities in the Antarctic). VX-6 made its first Antarctic deployment, DF-I, in November 1955 as part of “Task Force 43”. That first season, VX-6 completed nine long-range exploratory flights, and transported people and materials necessary for the construction of Little America Base Camp, the Naval Air Operations Facility on Hut Point (Ross Island) and South Pole Station, and assisted in identifying the location of four other base sites on the continent. In January 1969, VX-6 was re-designated as Antarctic Development Squadron SIX (VXE-6). In 1974 the squadron relocated to NAS Pt. Mugu where it remained until it’s disestablishment in April of 1999.

 

During its existence, VX/VXE-6 logged more than two hundred thousand flight hours in direct support of United States’ interest in the Antarctic. The squadron transported more than 195 thousand passengers, delivered over 240 million pounds of dry cargo and nearly 10 million gallons of fuel to numerous sites thought the continent.

 

In support of Operation Deep Freeze (DF), the squadron operated a variety of aircraft, including the P2V-2 Neptune, UC-1 Otter, R4D & C-47 Dakotas, R5D & C-54 Sky Masters, R7D Super Constellation, and LH-34 and HUS-1A helicopters. DF’61 marked the arrival of the ski-equipped LC-130 Hercules, the dubbed the “workhorse of the future”, due to its long range and heavy load capabilities. During DF’72, the UH-1N Huey was introduced to the continent, with VXE-6 being the first Navy recipient of this now world-famous twin-engine helicopter. Providing an additional means of direct scientific support, the Huey had the capability of rapidly transporting field teams and cargo to otherwise inaccessible locations within a 150-mile radius of McMurdo Station.

 

Our Williams Field Home

The Williams Field Skiway Complex is dedicated in memory of Construction Driver Third Class Richard T. Williams. On Friday, 16 January 1956, during Deep Freeze I, Petty Officer Williams was driving a new D-8 tractor, offloaded from the USNS WYANDOT, to an ice bridge spanning cracks in the bay ice. Shaken and grieved by the loss of their shipmate, the Deep Freeze crew responded by designating the base “Williams Air Operating Facility, McMurdo Sound." In 1961, with the establishment of a permanent scientific research program, the air facility was re-designated Williams Field and skiways have also been designated as the Jack Paulus skiways.

 

Formal operations at the Naval Air Facility began on 11 October 1957. Through the years, as runways were reconstructed following the winter, bulldozed snow created berms averaging 20 feet high along the ice runway. By 1962, the weight of the berms caused the ice to crack, endangering operations.   Fearing the ice would break up and carry the entire complex out to sea, the operation was moved to the skiway on the Ross Ice Shelf.

 

As ice began to deteriorate, the entire complex moved to the Ross Ice Shelf to support skiway operations only participation by the U.S. Air Force Military Airlift Command created a new requirement for a longer ice runway and an enlarged taxi/parking area. The resulting landing surface exceeded the combined size of Washington's Dulles and Baltimore's Friendship airports. The ice runway, crosswind runways and skiways now stretched to  10,000 feet long and 300 feet wide.

 

Today, during the austral summer, approximately 140-180 people live and work at Williams Field. The camp is mobile and made up of modular units. This permits relocation when calving along the Ross Ice Shelf becomes hazardous to the camp. Once every five years, Williams Field is moved further up the glacier and reassembled at a new site. Although we Puckered Penguins are gone from the ice, Williams Field continues to meet the requirements of the members of Operation Deep Freeze and the National Science Foundation working "on the ice at the bottom of the world."