first McMurdo memorial

Vince's Cross on Hut Point. It was erected by Scott's first expedition in
March 1902, in remembrance of the death of Seaman George T. Vince
who slipped off of a cliff and drowned while trying to return to the ship
during a blizzard. Vince was the first person to die in McMurdo Sound
(photo info)

Four members of the U. S. Antarctic program have died at Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station...


SK2 Andrew B. Moulder, USN, ASA, 13 February 1966
Andrew was scheduled to winter at Pole, but just before the end of the summer season he was crushed between a cargo sled and an LC-130 aircraft during cargo unloading operations. At that time of the year the temperatures can be brutal, and cold temperatures at Pole mean that severe ice fog is generated by the aircraft propellers. This results in very poor visibility and a dangerous working condition. Please visit my memorial page with photos and tributes from friends and family. ("ASA" was Antarctic Support Activity, the Navy operating organization that provided station support at the time as part of NSFA (US Naval Support Force Antarctica).


Casey A. Jones, Holmes & Narver, Inc., 9 January 1980
Casey was a summer cook who had previously wintered at Palmer. He was digging out snow from the vertical air intake shaft in the fan room when he was crushed to death by snow that fell down from the shaft on top of him. (The fan room, also known as the blue room, was a small unheated plenum arch off of the main entrance that was built to circulate fresh air through the domed station after it became buried.) Casey's ashes were strewn over the TransAntarctic Mountains between McMurdo and Pole, at his parents' request. Here are some photos and a link to the memorial page by Martha Kane Savage, who was there.


Rodney Marks, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, 12 May 2000
Rodney was an Australian astrophysicist who was spending his second Pole winter, this time working on the AST/RO (Antarctic Submillimeter Telescope and Remote Observatory) project. He died of methanol poisoning after experiencing breathing problems while walking back to the dome from his lab across the skiway. Here is a larger view of the plaque and a link to the CARA tribute pages.

table for 3

The three photo plaques seen above were created by longtime CARA/SCOARA/University of Chicago Polie Robert Spotz, and donated to the station in 2008. The 2009 winterovers chose to pay tribute to the three men by providing a special table for them at the sunset dinner, as seen in this photo by Marc Weekley.

Thomas Lawrence Atkins

Thomas Lawrence Atkins, PAE, 1 December 2014
Thomas, a master electrician from Greenville, Muhlenberg County, KY, was working as a controls technician. On 1 December he failed to show up for work and then was discovered deceased in his room. Here is the official NSF press release; the photo above is from his hometown obituary.

The question has been asked, "How many people have died at Pole?" Scott's party comes to mind, but they were hundreds of miles away when they met their famously unfortunate end. In addition to the 3 U. S. Antarctic program members above, 3 tourist skydivers died on 7 December 1997 when they hit the snow surface with unopened parachutes (more information at the bottom of this page).

At the International Antarctic Centre in Christchurch is the U. S. Navy memorial to all Americans who died in Antarctic operations through the disestablishment of the Naval Support Force Antarctica operations in March 1998. My January 2004 photos:

Navy memorial to those lost in Antarctica
The memorial is in front of the entrance to the CDC.

Closer view of the memorial
A closer view of the memorial.

top of the memorial plaque
The inscription on top of the memorial plaque.

left side of the list
right side of the list

Billy-Ace Baker has compiled a list of all of the members of the U. S. Antarctic programs who have died in Antarctica through 1999; that list is presented by Dave Riley with appropriate music here...

Another strange inland station tragedy: Carl Disch, a National Bureau of Standards scientist at Byrd didn't follow the rope line back from his lab to the station during the 1965 winter. He was never found.

Deaths immediately following the winter are also devastating to the w/o crew, as I can attest. Gary Rosenberger, one of the 1977 Pole Souls, did not make it home either. He died in New Zealand shortly after we left the ice (Gary). And Alistair Walker, 1989 SPASE guy, died in a traffic accident in England (while asleep in the back seat) only a week after the end of his winter.