Photo Gallery | Jack Green, longtime Gonzaga fan and resident of Antarctica
It’s 5:30 a.m. and Jack Green is getting ready for work. On his way to the aircraft runway he maintains, he might see a penguin. That’s because he works in Antarctica as an heavy equipment operator.
Green has been working in Antarctica since August and can’t wait to go home.
“It’s just a long ways from home,” Green said.
Home is Spokane, Washington. The 44-year-old lost his job in 2008. With the help of two friends he was able to get a contract position maintaining runways on raw sea ice. Green says they’re built on seven feet of frozen sea water. They only last for about two months at a time.
When he arrived back in August, the landscape was pitch black. It was the Southern Hemisphere's winter and a fierce wind was howling. The average temperature during that month is -17 degrees Fahrenheit. That temperature isn’t as bad as the recorded -43 degrees F when he visited the geological South Pole, about 900 miles from McMurdo Station.
Taking flag photos at the South Pole isn’t an original idea. Green thought it would be great to take the Gonzaga Bulldog flag with him when he planned to visit the most southern location on planet Earth.
He’s been a fan of the school and their sports team since 1986 when he attended Kimman Business University in Spokane.
“It got really heated up in 1999 when they made it to the Elite 8,” Green said. When in Spokane, he loves taking his kids to Gonzaga baseball games.
“Every once in awhile we get a game down here on ESPN,” Green said. If not, he has to call his wife at home to get the score. Sometimes he forgets he’s a day ahead.
“We watch the Superbowl on Monday down here. That’s an odd thing to tell people,” Green added.
Other odd factoids. There are no cats or dogs. They’re not allowed. There are no children either. The station caters to military transport and year-round scientific research. When winter comes, the station will slim down to about 160 personnel. During the summer peak, right now, there are about 1,100 people living at the station.
Some make Antarctica their life, living there for years. Green is considered a newcomer in the scheme of things. This is only his third job down there.
“I’m pretty lucky. I get paid to look at the most beautiful scenery on the planet,” Green said as he looks outside to where Discovery Hut, built in 1902 by Robert Falcon Scott, is in plain sight from his apartment.
“There’s a lot of history down here. It’s fortunate to see that stuff a lot of people on the planet will never see. I feel fortunate to work here while some pay to see it on a cruise ship,” Green said.
In mid-March Green’s position will end and he’ll move on to something else. But first he’ll stop in New Zealand to “thaw out and relax”. From there, home to the wife and three young kids.