Palmer Station 50th Anniversary!

50th anniversary celebration
On 20 March 2018 the assembled folks at Palmer Station celebrated the 50th anniversary of the dedication of the Biolab (ZE).

The seed for this celebration had been planted by Chuck Amsler the year before. The date marks the 50th anniversary of the Biolab dedication by Rear Admiral J. L. Abbott (NSFA) and NSF representative Philip Smith as described and documented here.

The plan was to begin the ceremony by gathering around the original flagpole with speeches followed by a flag raising at 5:30 pm, exactly 50 years after the American flag had been first raised on the same flagpole. But the weather was rather nasty, so....

...the chairs and tables were arranged in a U shape with the open end facing the windows, as seen in the above photo. The walls were covered with flags of the 12 original Antarctic Treaty nations. Before the flag raising, the station science leader Chuck Amsler read comments from Kelly Falkner, the director of NSF's Office of Polar Programs. She wrote about the importance of Palmer Station to American and global science research, and concluded with: "Congratulations to you all on the 50th anniversary of world-class research at Palmer. And here's to 50 more." (full text of Dr. Kelly Falkner's remarks)

Rebecca Shoop speech

Next, summer station manager Rebecca Shoop reads her remarks, which included: "Clearly, an anniversary is a good moment to recommit to what should never change. We hope that this place will continue to operate under the goals of the Antarctic Treaty, that it will always be a place for science where the awe of the natural environment and the strength and charm of the community will continue to be the a place where people long to be." (photo by MA) (full text of Rebecca Shoop's remarks)

Finally, SSL Chuck Amsler made additional remarks about the extensive and different kinds of science that had been done at Palmer Station, including: "That is a phenomenal record of productivity for such a small research outpost. While it certainly speaks to the hard work of the scientists laboring in the labs and on the water, their efforts alone cannot explain it. The exceptional productivity that we in the science groups can have here at Palmer is only possible because we are part of a much greater community comprised of everyone on station.

"All of us should be proud of what we and our predecessors have accomplished here. I am certain that we will be just as proud of what we and our successors will accomplish in the next 50 years as part of this wondrous, and very special, community for science." (full text of Dr. Chuck Amsler's remarks)

raising the American flag
Keri Nelson (administrative coordinator) and Aldo Ruiz (cargo, and a 23-year US Air Force veteran) raise the American flag...
flags flying at Palmer Station
...followed by the NSF and USAP flags (MA).
watching the flag raising
Most everyone else watched from inside (ZE).

After the flag raising, administrative coordinator Keri Nelson offered a toast:

anniversary toast

She said, in part: "I ask you to raise your glasses. Find a place in your heart to feel the weight of this toast. To all of the men and women who work here from all over this earth. To Palmer Station; to our own nation's dedication to this program; and to this great continent itself.

"Happy birthday Palmer Station." (full text of Keri Nelson's toast)

[Of interest here, as Keri was standing in front of the Argentine flag...a couple of weeks earlier the station had been visited by the Argentinian Navy icebreaker Almirante Irizar. This was in part in thanks for American assistance with a search-and-rescue situation as well as with a potential medevac (which was not required). And additionally, earlier that icebreaker had used their helicopters to extract an American geology field team. Much international ccoperation...and they graciously provided several bottles of Argentinian champagne which was used for the toast, and Malbec wine, which was served with dinner.]

Chuck speaking with Jim Turner

Before dinner, Chuck Amsler conducted a phone call with Jim Turner of Townville, SC--he had been one of the Navy Seabees who helped build Palmer Station in 1966-67 and 1967-68. Jim had been present for the original station dedication ceremony on 20 March 1968, and he spoke about some of his experiences during those deployments. At left, Chuck is conducting the call over the speaker phone; above the phone is a photo provided by Jim showing him standing on the foundation of one of the fuel tanks during its construction in 1966-67. Jim also provided a number of other photos of the original 20 March 1968 dedication ceremony, as well as of the original station construction (coming soon) (photo by KN).

the celebration cake
And after dinner, of course there was cake! (CA)
Mark Mican and KC Loosemore
As seen here with food service coordinator Mark Mican (left) and sous chef KC Loosemore (CA).

Photo credits and thanks to Chuck Amsler (CA), Maggie Amsler (MA), Zenobia Evans (ZE), and Keri Nelson (KN). And additional thanks to Chuck for sharing the photos and the text of the speeches. His writeup of the ceremony appears in this blog post from UAB. And as long as we're discussing the UAB team, here's another great blog post about Chuck's wife Maggie Amsler and her long history of research at Palmer Station.