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U.S.S. Glacier Prodding Kainan Bay

Robert Charles Haun

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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.