Signal Corps Antarctic Exploration in Little America
By Susan Thompson, U.S. Army CECOM Command HistorianJanuary 30, 2020
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - It was U.S. Navy Operation Highjump in 1947 that brought Amory "Bud" Waite of the U.S. Army Electronic Research and Development Labs at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, to the Little America Antarctica settlement. Waite was an Army observer focused on communications, photography, and electronic and power supply equipment. He was also an Antarctic exploration veteran, having served as the Ice Party radio operator and electrician at Little America in 1934.As part of Operation Deep Freeze, the Signal Corps established an Antarctic research team at Camp Coldbottom, the signal test site at Little America V. In 1955, experiments and tests at the camp focused on wave propagation, meteorology and radio equipment. Waite coordinated the Antarctic research team for the signal engineering labs, and later traveled to the Antarctic at least nine times. His last trip took place in 1962, where he tested a radio-sounding method he developed for measuring ice thickness. He later went on to visit the South Pole for the first time.In 1964, John J. Kelly and Sgt. First Class B.R. Caldwell represented the Fort Monmouth Electronic Development and Research Labs in the Antarctic. Caldwell was believed to be the first and only signal corps Soldier to ever travel to the South Pole station, 90 degrees south. The South Pole trek was made to install wind chill and atmospheric electricity measuring equipment for Fort Monmouth, with summer temperatures nearing 35 degrees below zero.These trips continued the signal corps' long-term focus on meteorology and communications in extreme climates, and led to many future innovations that continue today.
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