LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - A Lake Charles man’s U.S. Navy assignment to Antarctica in the 1950s brought a whole new meaning to the term “Cold War.”
In 1955, as part of the International Geo Physical Year, 40 nations carried out studies from the North to South poles. John Murray of Lake Charles was in the Navy and was a part of Operation Deep Freeze in the southern hemisphere.
“I have to confess—I didn’t volunteer for it,” admitted Murray. “I didn’t want to go, but you have to serve so much sea duty. So, I drew the number for Operation Deep Freeze; which was a great pleasure when I got into it because of the company.”
Murray was stationed at Antarctica for about three months during the summer.
“A lot of penguins to play with,” remembered Murray. “I didn’t see any polar bears. I don’t think they’re in that part of the world. We had a good time with it.”
Murray says he was most impressed with the Southern Cross display in the skies.
“I was awestruck when I walked out on the aft deck and looked up at it. It just stopped me in my tracks. I couldn’t believe it. The size of it and the brightness of it just takes your breath away. I was amazed at it. It seemed like I could just touch it. It was so huge and so bright.”
The Operation Deep Freeze mission was headed by Admiral Richard Byrd.
Murray now stays active as a volunteer with Little Troopers, a group that makes sure children of the military are taken care of at Christmas.