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Robert Charles Haun (1903-1975)

Robert Charles Haun was born in Boston, Massachusetts on 31 December 1903. In 1927, he graduated from the Massachusetts School of Art, and after briefly operating an art studio in Boston, he moved to Providence, Rhode Island where he worked as an artist for the remainder of his life. Haun is represented by mural paintings and interiors in hotels, public and civic buildings, theaters, churches and private residences throughout New England. His relationship with the Navy began with murals he painted for U.S. Naval Station, Newport, Rhode Island, and the U.S. Naval Air Station, Quonset Point, Rhode Island.

In 1955, Haun volunteered his services as an artist to Operation Deepfreeze I. Rear Admiral George Dufek, USN (Ret.) replied to his request on 10 October 1955, thanking him for his enthusiasm but informing him that the artist billet had already been filled by "a Naval Reserve officer who had an outstanding record as a combat artist during World War II" [Commander Standish Backus]. Haun was encouraged to try again "next year when we shall have an even larger expedition." The artist must have pleaded his case, however, as well as cited his interest in documenting the work of the Mobile Construction Battalion (Seabees), because on 8 November 1955, Dufek invited him to participate as Staff Artist of Task Force 43.

Haun left the Naval Air Station, Quonset Point, on 20 November 1955, by air transport in the company of a reverend, seismologist and eight Air Force men. Arriving at Christ Church, New Zealand, on 26 November, he worked on a special assignment, the design of a bronze memorial plaque for historical ceremonies by Rear Admirals Byrd, USN (Ret) and Dufek, held in the Cathedral. On 16 December he reported to Captain Lawrence Smythe, USN, Commanding Officer of the U.S.S. Arneb (AKA-56), Flagship, which sailed from Port Lyttleton, New Zealand with the other vessels of the Task Force.

From the moment of departure, Haun began his own program of observation, sketching and painting. In all, he contributed 75 paintings and sketches in various media to record the operation of men, machines and ships in the performance of a colossal job. With the elements not always favorable, his sketches were often made in the cramped cab of a D8, Weasel or Snow Cat, sometimes from the top of packing crates on the ice, in the biting wind and cold, and at times in the only available space on board the ship: the ladies' retiring room. Haun also designed the official MCB (Special) Emblem for Operation Deepfreeze I.

During the return trip of the around-the-world-cruise of the U.S.S. Arneb, Haun decorated the Crew's Recreation Room and the Officers' Wardroom. He arrived at Norfolk, Virginia, on 5 May 1956, after which he returned to Providence and his work as a free-lance artist. He died in 1975.

A Grumman Albatross
Robert Charles Haun #17
Pastel on board, 30 November 1955


Because of this triphibian plane's modifications, it had to fly shorter legs than the long-range Neptunes and R5D Skymasters. This Grumman Albatross started at Moffet Field, California, flew up to Adak, Alaska, hopped across several islands in the Pacific and arrived at the Wigram Air Force Base in Christchurch, New Zealand. Pictured are CDR Ebbe and LTCDR Sparks.

The ships in Operation Deepfreeze left Boston and Norfolk on 14 November, traveled through the Panama Canal and across the Pacific Ocean to Port Lyttleton, New Zealand. They arrived 12 December.


Sunday Afternoon Showing of Our Navy Planes
Robert Charles Haun #18
Pastel on board, 3 December 1955


Wigram Air Force Base, Christchurch, New Zealand

"Overwhelming!" was how Admiral Byrd described the response by the people of New Zealand to the Navy's stopover en route to Antarctica. The friendly New Zealanders hosted a parade with bagpipers and dances for their American visitors.

"New Zealanders came by bus, bicycle, baby carriage and on foot. Groups picnicked in the shadows beneath the huge planes and on the airfield. The crowds blazed in colors."--Robert Charles Haun


U.S.S. Glacier Off Scott Island
Robert Charles Haun #74
Pastel on paper, December 1956


All ships left New Zealand and were underway for Antarctica on 16 December, two days ahead of schedule.


U.S.S. Glacier Breaking Ice
Robert Charles Haun #7
Oil on canvas, 1956


U.S.S. Glacier was the Navy's largest icebreaker and this was its shakedown cruise. It proved to be incredibly reliable, able to work faster and more effectively than the older U.S.S. Edisto.


U.S.S. Glacier Breaking Ice
Robert Charles Haun #27
Pencil study with color wash, 29 December 1955


Study for 88-192-G (above).


U.S.S. Glacier Prodding Kainan Bay
Robert Charles Haun #26
Oil on canvas paper, 29 December 1956


The Bay of Whales was the landing site for previous Little America expeditions, but as U.S.S. Atka had reported in its earlier scouting mission, great ice barrier break-offs had rendered it unusable. Kainan Bay was chosen instead. From onboard the U.S.S. Arneb, Haun captures the U.S.S. Glacier exploring the coastline to be sure that Kainan Bay was the best site.


Kainan Bay Antarctica
Robert Charles Haun #25
Oil on canvas paper, 29 December 1955




CAPT Smythe on Deck U.S.S. Arneb with CDR Frazer
Robert Charles Haun # 37
Watercolor, 31 December 1955


Watching U.S.S. Glacier break ice in Kainan Bay.


Online Exhibits that feature Robert Charles Haun's work

Operation Deepfreeze I: 1955-56:

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06 March 2003