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Stauchy Blog » Blog Archive » Winterover Ceremony - Sun. Oct. 28, 2007 (JRS)

Winterover Ceremony - Sun. Oct. 28, 2007 (JRS)

The winterover ceremony is a long-held tradition at the South Pole.  Since the time the South Pole was a military operation, there has been a decree that anyone who winters-over at the South Pole shall receive a metal in honor of the accomplishment.  It’s one of the few ways that a civilian can receive a military honor.

It was a fairly emotional ceremony, and yet another example of seeing things from the other side of the fence (the night we arrived, there was a winter-over ceremony that we looked in on).  I remember thinking how cool it was that I was going to be a part of such a small and distinguished community.  On this side of the fence now, I realize that living here for a year is not as much of a challenge as I thought it would be, but we are none-the-less part of a very small and very connected-feeling community of people who have wintered-over at the South Pole.  This kind of sank in during the ceremony.  It also sank in more that this is the end of an unforgettable year.  The last time that we would all be together.  Sort of a parting of ways of a group that had been through so much together.  It was both a very happy and sad occasion.

It started with Dave Scheuerman, the acting South Pole site manager, standing up and giving a speech about what it meant to winter-over at the South Pole, and the tradition of receiving a metal for the service we had provided (see the video of his words at http://www.stauchy.net/videos.hml).  He also said some very nice things, re-iterating how good of a community we appeared to have had over the winter.  He also said that he and all the folks in Denver appreciated all of our hard work over the winter.  The words were very nice and seemed to be heart-felt, so they were nice to hear.

Then Andy, the winter-site manager, said some words on how impressed he was with the winter.  He was a great manager and a good friend, and it was fairly emotional to hear his speech.  He then went through all of the winter-overs, starting with the people who spent their first winter there and continuing with people who had spent more and more winters.  He ended with Johan, who had just finished his 11th winter on the ice (split between South Pole and Palmer Station), and who is the standing record-holder for the most winters in Antarctica.  He is returning for next winter as well, which he claims may be his last.  His record is safe for a while.  The next closest person from our season had 6 winters (although there may be people out there with more).

Lynette and I broke up the emotions of the ceremony when my name was called by jumping up and doing a chest bump and I ran to the front like a Price Is Right contestant.

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When it was Lynette’s turn, Andy said some very nice things about Lynette’s role as On-Scene-Commander for the Emergency Response Team (all of the team leads had been recognized at our final All-Hands meeting a couple weeks earlier).  He gave her several gift certificates in Christchurch as a thank you.  After this, she gave Andy a hug, then went to Steve, our acting NSF representative (he was a Grantee for the 10-meter telescope over the winter), jumped on him and stuck her tongue in his ear.  Up until that point, he had been very reserved, giving everyone a hand-shake and a smile, so she definitely shook things up for him.  After getting her sweatshirt and pin, she did an encore with Steve, just in case anyone didn’t get a good picture.  He didn’t appear to mind, and in fact just may have liked it!

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The ceremony ended with Andy thanking us all again for a great winter and we all slowly shuffled out of the galley.  The next day, half of us would be getting on a plane and heading out of town for the first time in at least 8 months.

-JRS

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