Lieutenant Commander Jack Bursey Heads Trail Party

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LCDR Jack Bursey, USCG, Heads Trail Party
Robert Charles Haun #11
Oil on canvas, 1956

On January 14, LCDR Bursey and six volunteers set out overland from Little America V into Marie Byrd Land to mark off a safe trail to be followed by tractor trains taking materials to build Byrd Station, a new base closer to the South Pole. An Otter plane piloted by LT Paul Streich supported the party, locating potential safe trails from the air. As long as weather permitted, the Otter maintained daily contact.

On February 1, the trail party had walked 420 miles east of Little America when they reached a heavily crevassed area and the base ordered them back. They planned to board the Otter to return to base, however, the Otter failed to meet them. Ice on its wings had forced it to make a crash landing, far from the intended rendezvous point. Fortunately all men aboard the Otter survived the crash, but with low visibility, it was seven days before they were rescued. Meanwhile, the trail party reversed their steps along the trail and were met by a tractor-train search party led by Machinist Victor Young.

CDR Bursey's Trail Party Preparation
Robert Charles Haun # 53
Pencil on paper, 7 January 1956

In his notation on this sketch, Haun promotes Bursey to Commander. At this time, Bursey was in fact, a Lieutenant Commander.

Jack Bursey's Trail Flags and Gasoline Drums Being Loaded
Robert Charles Haun #54
Pencil on paper, 7 January 1956

LCDR Bursey took about 250 flags with him to mark the trail.

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