The Antarctic Journal of a Sailor on "Operation Windmill" 1947-48

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AuthorHouse, Feb 23, 2007 - Biography & Autobiography - 140 pages

The book Antarctic Journal a Seaman’s Record from 1947 contains the day-to-day observations of a young sailor assigned in 1947 to his first cruise, which was an historic expedition to map and study over twenty locations along the coast of Antarctica. "Project Windmill" was the first all-icebreaker task force after World War II, and was a follow-up to the Admiral Byrd led “Operation Highjump” in 1946.   As an Electronic Technician Mr. Koenig was in the center of the communications activity, and had access to information not always available to most of the crew.


The narrative begins with an unpleasant start over rough seas and travel to the South Pacific island of American Samoa.  Upon crossing the equator the description of the Pollywog to Shellback initiation is one of the best yet, as stated by the librarian at the Navy Library.


Two months below the Antarctic Circle includes suspense from a missing helicopter to adventures at the early American camps at McMurdo Sound, Little America and Byrd’s East Base.  A rough crossing past Cape Horn and a visit to Lima, Peru added interest to the adventure.


The story is told just as recorded, and supported with many illustrations from his personal camera’s 2 x 2 inch pictures and several quality images from the ship’s photo shop and the Navy Library.

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About the author (2007)

The story of the Antarctic Journal is a little late in the telling, but with the modern methods of writing and publishing, it is now being made available to the public.  The story was written in a little green notebook just as reported here.  When Ed left the Navy and went to Purdue he got a typewriter and made a copy for binding.  Forty years later, after retirement and the purchase of a computer he collected the text and pictures and made a book for family use.  Now it is time to put it out for general circulation for all to read.


Ed’s life before and after the Navy experience is as interesting as the Journal itself.  He was born in Johnstown, Pennsylvania in 1928, with the depression weighing heavily on all families.  His father, unlike the uncles who worked in the coal mines and steel mills, was able to study and went to work for the electric company.  In 1937, after the second disastrous flood, the family moved to Erie, Pennsylvania, where the four boys grew up.

Graduating from high school in 1946 Ed and three friends signed up in the Navy, taking the Eddy test to qualify for electronic technician training.  Accepted, he went to Great Lakes Naval Training Center for boot camp and the first stage of electronic training.  Then advancing to more training at Treasure Island, California he graduated and was ready for service.

His first assignment was to the U.S.S. Jason, a repair ship in San Pedro harbor, and assignment to the U.S.S.Burton Island where the narrative starts.


After returning to California from the Antarctic cruise, he was discharged and headed home to Erie, stopping at Purdue University on the way.  This was where he was to stay for Bachelor and Master of Electrical Engineering degrees.  During this time he married Lola Dubach, and lived in the old barracks with many other student families. They had three children, all living in Indiana.


After graduation he accepted a position with Capehart-Farnsworth Company in Fort Wayne, Indiana.  Philo Farnsworth, inventor of television, was still active in the development of special television and other sensor tubes and displays.  Ed fitted in as a engineer and worked in developing test equipment and applying these tubes to television systems, mostly military in nature.  ITT bought Capehart-Farnsworth and made the division in Fort Wayne the Aerospace-Communications Division. The systems became increasingly complex, using infrared and other special techniques.  These techniques were very applicable to the new area of satellite television, where he led many projects to provide television and infrared scanners for the new meteorological satellites.   The last major program, to develop the new generation of Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites, now provides all the space generated pictures seen on our television programs.  Ed became the lead project scientist on these systems, until his retirement in 1992.  His first wife died in 1991.  He later married Ruth Mary Parkison, and is enjoying retirement in Fort Wayne and Lakeland, Florida. His interest in the weather satellite programs led him to write and illustrate a booklet called “How Do You Make a Weather Satellite?”. This booklet has now been printed by NASA and is distributed to schools for their study of weather and satellites.

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