Our Lady of the Snows Shrine

Farther up the trail from Hut Point lies Our Lady of the Snows Shrine. The Shrine is dedicated to Richard T. Williams, US Navy – Seabees, who lost his life at McMurdo Sound on January 6, 1956 during initial construction of McMurdo Station.

Our Lady of the Snows Shrine

Our Lady of the Snows Shrine

The nearby plaque explains it better than I ever could.

In memory of Richard T. Williams, US Navy - Seabees, August 30, 1933 - January 6, 1956

CD3 Richard T. Williams

U.S. Navy – Seabees

Our Lady of the Snows Shrine

This shrine is dedicated to construction driver third class
Richard Thomas Williams, United States Navy – Seabees

From a ship 30 miles out from Hut Point, Petty Officer Williams
was bringing in supplies for Seabees to commence the initial
construction at McMurdo Sound during “Operation Deep Freeze I.”
On 6 January 1956 he lost his life when the D-8 tractor he was
operating broke through the bay ice 4 miles NNW of Cape Royds
and plunged 350 fathoms to the bottom of McMurdo Sound.
His body was never recovered.

Petty Officer Williams was a member of U.S. Naval Mobile
Construction Battalion (Special), Task Force 43,
Byrd Antarctic Expedition V, under command of
Rear Admirals Richard E. Byrd and George J. Dufek, U.S. Navy.

Petty Officer Williams gave his life in the
logistical support of scientific exploration of Antarctica.
In 1956, Williams Air Operating Facility was named in his memory.

This shrine was originally dedicated on 6 January 1957,
to the memory of Petty Officer Williams by the designer/builder,
Seabee Chaplain-Father John C. Condit, LT. CHC, U.S. Navy.

On 6 January 1996 the CEC/Seabee Historical Foundation,
with this bronze tablet, re-dedicated this shrine to
Petty Officer Williams and all other heroic colleagues
of all nations who have given their lives
in order to help us better understand
Antarctica and the world in which we live.

30 August 1933

McMurdo Sound,
6 January 1956

3 comments to Our Lady of the Snows Shrine

  • Aunt Mary

    DEAR GOD! The poor boy was only 23! His poor mother!
    Another sad fact … the temperature here is the same as the temperature there today. BRRRRR

  • Joseph mcnally

    I was a member of the Deep Freeze IV wintering over party. The airport runway. ( named Williams Field) was, at that tim,,, located on the McMurdo Sound Bay ice. During a violent wint storm the ice broke up and the runway was lost. As a result a new runway was carved out on the glacier entering the bay and to this day still is named Williams Field.
    Petty Officer Williams was memorialized in Our lady of the Snows chapel located on our base. Sadly the chapel burned down a few years later and all it’s artifacts were lost.
    Joseph McNally
    CDR , USN retired

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