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Polar Medals Past and Present - Update

Congratulations to Chris Jacobs, our Field Facilities Manager, who has been honored twice this year in the United Kingdom. He was awarded the MBE and Polar Medal for outstanding achievement and service in the field of polar research!

Chris attended an investiture at Windsor Castle on March 2, 2012 where he was the only person in attendance to receive two awards and the only one receiving a Polar Medal. Chris was presented the awards by the Queen herself. He said, “I can’t believe I have been so fortunate as to shake her hand, have a conversation, and make her chuckle. It was a wonderful day and one that my family and I will remember for a very long time.”

The Polar Medal was inaugurated in 1904 for members of Captain Scott's first expedition to Antarctica. Subsequent medals were also awarded to members of Ernest Shackleton's expeditions in 1907–09 and 1914–17. Other recipients include well-known British explorers such as Sir Vivian Fuchs, Sir Ranulph Fiennes, Sir Wally Herbert, and Robert Swan. Polar Medals are awarded to British subjects for their extreme human endeavours in Arctic and Antarctic conditions or to expedition members and those permanently-manned Antarctic bases for their contribution to the "acquisition of knowledge of Polar regions". Ten years of service at the North or South Pole is also now considered for the Polar Medal.

Chrissy J's Antarctic career includes three overwinters with the British Antarctic Survey as well as thirteen seasons working with ANI. As ANI's Field Facilities Manager Chris oversees a fleet of snow clearing, hauling, and light transport vehicles and a team of nine mechanics who maintain our blue-ice runway and skiway; manage on-ice cargo handling; operate overland tractor-traverses; and do the thousand and one tasks that keep our operations running smoothly. It's a monumental task - and he does a fabulous job. Key projects over the past two years include: coordinating the efficient delivery of nearly 70 tonnes of cargo to Union Glacier for the Subglacial Lake Ellsworth Project; skiway preparation for the NSF's Polenet Project; and a 255 nm (472 km) overland traverse to deliver the Brazilian, Criosfera 1 module to its field location.

Meanwhile, the Polar Medal posthumously awarded to Captain Lawrence 'Titus' Oates, has made its first journey to the South Pole in the 100th Anniversary year of the expeditions led by Captain Robert Falcon Scott and the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen. Oates skied to the South Pole with Scott and on the return journey he walked to his certain death in a blizzard of -40 degrees to give his fellows a better chance of survival. His last words were: "I am just going outside and may be some time." His action is an enduring narrative of duty and self-sacrifice.

Oates' medal was presented on loan to Lt Col Worsley, leader of a British Army team undertaking an expedition to the South Pole in support of The Royal British Legion. At the presentation Worsley said, "We wanted to pay homage to the great Antarctic explorers of the Polar age by undertaking this gruelling challenge. Capt Oates' Polar Medal will be a reminder that we are also attempting this challenge as a tribute to the men and women of the Armed Forces who have served and continue to serve Britain in duty and often, sacrifice."

Worsley and Lou Rudd are one half of the Scott-Amundsen Centenary Race. Worsley's team re-traced Amundsen's route from the Bay of Whales to the South Pole, arriving on January 9th. A second party, led by Mark Langridge, are re-tracing Scott's route from McMurdo Sound and plan to arrive at the South Pole on January 16th, in time for the Scott Centenary Celebrations on January 17th.

Photos from Flickr:
Lt Col Henry Worsley and ANI's Chris Jacobs display Capt. Oates Polar Medal
Polar Medal carried to the South Pole by Lt Col Worsley
Chris Jacobs with MBE and Polar Medal
Chris Jacobs at Windsor Castle investiture