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Airman Returns from South Pole

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Jonathan Russell
  • 117th Air Refueling Wing
An Airman from the 117th Air Refueling Wing recently returned here from a six week deployment to Antarctica.

Senior Master Sgt. Trey Hamm was the Joint Ground Safety Manager for the Air Force and the Navy at the National Science Foundation's McMurdo Station in Antarctica.

"The trip down to Antarctica is long, but the destination was worth the journey," said Hamm.

Hamm flew 33 hours on five legs from Birmingham to New Zealand on commercial aircraft. He stopped overnight in New Zealand before flying the last eight hours on a military aircraft to Antarctica.

Hamm's mission with the Air Force was to ensure the safety of the approximately 100 personnel who fly, maintain, and support six LC-130 aircraft stationed at McMurdo during the summer. The LC-130 is a ski-equipped version of the cargo aircraft.

His mission with the Navy was to ensure the safety of the 40 personnel who unloaded and loaded a cargo ship and a fuel ship during their annual resupply visits. The Navy unloaded replacement helicopters, fire trucks and over 300 shipping containers from the cargo ship and then loaded it with outgoing cargo. The entire process took almost two weeks due to the conditions in which they were working.

"The cargo was offloaded onto an "ice-pier", which is essentially a floating iceberg, and then driven via truck over a Bailey bridge to land," said Hamm.

The constant winds kept the wind chill below zero at McMurdo during Hamm's trip. A storm with 80 knot winds, lasting two full days, forced all outside activity at McMurdo to stop at one point during the deployment.

"I was surprised to discover that the Extreme Cold Weather gear kept me comfortable even in the extreme temperatures," said Hamm.

Later when he left McMurdo and arrived at the South Pole station, the temperature was minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit, with a minus 70 degree wind chill.

"The ultimate mission in Antarctica is science, and the research taking place there is breath-taking." said Hamm.

For more information about McMurdo station, please visit