Gov. Pataki honors rescuers of Antarctic doctor
October 21, 1999
NEW YORK -- The 109th Airlift Wing of the New York National Guard, based in Scotia, New York, received state medals from New York Gov. George Pataki on Thursday.
Jerri Nielsen, 47, a physician stationed at the remote Amundsen-Scott South Pole Research Station, diagnosed herself with breast cancer in June and began treating herself using chemotherapeutic agents that the U.S. Air Force parachuted to the station in July. All the while, she carried out her normal duties as the sole doctor for the 41-person research group.
She consulted with her doctors in the United States by e-mail and teleconference. Recently, they recommended she return to the United States as soon as possible for treatment.
Flights in support of the South Pole program usually don't begin until late October or early November, the start of spring in the Antarctic.
But on Oct. 6, two planes set out on what commanders dubbed "Operation Deep Freeze," the second aircraft tagging along as a backup. The planes left the 109th Airlift Wing of the New York Air National Guard in Schenectady, New York, and flew to Travis Air Force Base, outside Sacramento, California.
From there, they flew to Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii, to the island of Pago Pago, to Christchurch, New Zealand, and then to McMurdo Station in Antarctica.
Finally, on October 16, in the earliest such flight attempted, rescuers braved -50 C temperatures to land their ski-equipped plane at the Pole, drop off a replacement doctor, and pick up Nielsen.
"They endured life-threatening ... conditions and executed an extremely difficult and dangerous rescue mission", said Pataki. "It took courage and heroism for people to conclude that they would make the effort and attempt that rescue mission."
In a statement, Nielsen thanked her rescuers, said doctors had confirmed she has breast cancer, and asked that further details of her condition and treatment not be made public.
See related sites about US
|Back to the top||
© 2001 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.|
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.