Two Tragedies

Methods of crevasse detection are laborious and something less than exact, especially with equipment available in the 1950s. Richard T. Williams, CD3, USN, a heavy equipment driver of MCB (Special) was killed when his D8 Caterpillar crashed through a bridge that had been placed over a crack in the ice at McMurdo Sound. A few weeks later, tractor driver Max R. Kiel fell victim to a huge crevasse while also driving a D8 tractor. These were the only two fatalities during Operation Deep Freeze I. In memory of these men, the Air Operating Facility at McMurdo Sound was named Williams Air Operating Facility and the airstrip at Little America V became Max Kiel Airfield.

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The Fatal Hazard
Standish Backus #56
Oil on canvas, 1957

"On any glacial ice, but more especially on any part of the Antarctic continental glacier, a traveler lives constantly under the Damoclean threat that a crevasse may be under him. Without warning, the snow that has bridged over the yawning maw, rendering it indistinguishable, may give way. Men and machines may be instantly swallowed down forever, down perhaps hundreds of feet of undulating, ice-blur depths." --Commander Standish Backus

Man Fell Into Crevasse Here
Robert Charles Haun #65
Watercolor & pencil, 27 January 1956

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