Thomas E. Berg Field Center Dedicated

BFC dedication
Thomas B. Owen, Assistant Director, National and International Programs, National Science Foundation, dedicates
the Thomas E. Berg Field Center at McMurdo Station (U.S. Navy Photo).

On 15 December 1970, personnel of the U.S. Antarctic Research Program and the U.S. Naval Support Force Antarctica, gathered at McMurdo to dedicate the USARP Field Party Processing Center in memory of Thomas E. Berg, a geologist who died in a helicopter accident at Mount Newall on 19 November 1969. The crash also killed New Zealand filmmaker Jeremy Sykes (obituary and description of the crash).

BFC plaqueThe selection of the field party processing facility as a memorial to the memory of Tom Berg had wide endorsement--from his family, colleagues, friends, and co-workers in Antarctica and NSF. Built in 1968, the Field Center serves as the heart of the USARP field activities. It is the place for outfitting both the ground and helicopter supported parties working near McMurdo and the major field parties that are placed at remote distances by Hercules aircraft or traverse.

The principal remarks at the dedication ceremony were made by Thomas B. Owen, Assistant Director, National and International Programs, National Science Foundation. Dr. Owen observed that, "It is altogether fitting that this facility, which is the heart of the field party activities, be dedicated as a working memorial to Tom Berg. Fritz Koerner in front of the BFC I understand that he was an exceptional field worker, one with untiring enthusiasm, perseverance, and unflagging spirits under trying conditions. His competence, enthusiasm, and friendly disposition earned him the respect and friendship of all who knew him. His unusual ability to make the most of adverse circumstances under arduous field conditions made him a popular and well-liked traveling companion. These characteristics are the ones that have been, and continue to be, required on this continent. We hope that Tom's example will serve as a source of inspiration to those who continue the scientific study of Antarctica.

the BFC in 2000"When risk overtakes one of us, we who are left wonder whether it is worthwhile. The ideal of service in science which is exemplified by Tom and by those who have gone before him provides the answer. The rewards of dedicated work are great. The work is worth doing; the devoted service exemplified in Tom Berg's association with the Antarctic Research Program will remain an inspiration for all of us."

The above article text and black-and-white photo appeared in the January-February 1971 Antarctic Journal; the closeup view of the plaque is by Dominick Dirksen and is from the Antarctic Photo Library (link to original). The photo above right is mine from October 1976...this is fellow 1977 winterover Fritz Koerner--we are about to head off for what is now known as Happy Camper. Fritz is standing in front of the plaque, but note the sign above the door "Field Party Processing Center" which was the original name for this facility. The last photo is a December 2000 view of the BFC by Larry Nittler, currently a staff scientist at the Carnegie Institution in Washington, DC. He took this photo while part of an ANSMET expedition to Meteorite Hills. The BFC photo is from this page which clearly shows the plaque as well as that old USARP emblem above the door (alas, the ANSMET link from that photo page is no longer available).