J. GLENN DYER
James Glenn Dyer was born May 10, 1908 in
to James Wesley Dyer and Beulah LaVert Bailey. Alamosa is a railroad town that is known for its long cold winters. As he grew up, he learned hard work on the family farm. He also spent time planting trees in , Alamosa Colorado to reclaim land devastated by copper strip mining. It was there that he was able to secure the funds needed to attend Georgia Tech. He graduated in 1933 with a degree in aeronautical Engineering. Tennessee
Because of the Depression Dyer’s first job in
was shut down after only three months. He then took a job surveying for the government in New Jersey where he distinguished himself as a surveyor. It was there that he, also, began to develop his administrative abilities, working two crews of surveyors and devising a system of using distant landmarks where he could accomplish more in a day than most people were doing in several days. Nevada
Dyer answered a request stating, “If you would be interested in dangerous work in the high latitudes, send your resume to such and such an address.” It was Admiral Byrd who was putting together a team for exploring the Antarctic regions and Glenn went on then to become cartographer and navigator. It was the beginning of his career working both in the Antarctic and later the
One of Dyer’s assignments on the way down to the Antarctic was to care for the sled dogs that they would be relying on for the next couple of years. He learned to love those dogs and was devastated when they were unable to fly them out at the end of the expedition.
Dyer had many harrowing experiences while serving in the Antarctic. On one occasion when he was alpine skiing out across a flat. The snow had drifted over a crevasse and as he passed over, the snow gave way, and he fell in. Because his skis caught between the two sides of the crevasse, he hung there upside down most of the day, until his colleagues discovered and rescued him. He bore scars from frostbite on his legs all his life.
On another occasion, Dyer was to take three or four men off on an expedition to survey a high plateau. As he left, he and his men took a couple of dog teams and sleds and put their provisions together. Dyer carried a barometer with him to use much like an airplane uses the effects of a barometer to tell the altitude because of air pressure. They would use the barometer to estimate heights of the plateau. As they drove their teams up the side of the plateau, Dyer noticed as he took readings that the air pressure was dropping very rapidly. He turned to the party that was with him and said,” Either we are climbing very, very fast or we are in for a whale of a storm because the air pressure is dropping so rapidly.” Dyer motivated the crew to move to the top of the plateau where they might at least have the opportunity to set up camp. As they were setting up camp the winds started to howl and grew to gale force and beyond. They had three tents set up for five men and their provisions.
The dogs they staked out and as dogs do, they buried there noses in the snow and soon with all the blowing snow the dogs were totally covered except for little vent holes, created by the warm air from their breath.
The men, however, sat in their tents while the wind ripped at the canvass on the tents. First one tent tore apart, as the men scrambled to relocate themselves into another tent, the next one blew apart. Five men, big men, were now huddled together in one small tent. The men now faced the fact that death was imminent if the third tent gave way. There was no way they could make it through this intense storm without some protection, because of the low temperature and wind chill factor. Some of the men were writing home what they believed would be their last letter. Glenn would tell his family in the years that followed of the great sense of calm and peace he experience as he came to feel the protection of God.
For three days the storm raged. As it cleared and the men came out of their tent, they found a new landscape before them. For the snow had blown like a sandblaster cutting rivets and ruts throughout the snowfield, and making it difficult to pull the sleds on the return trip.
During World War II Dyer was sought out by the Army Air Corp because of his polar experience and given charge of an Arctic Air Base. After 18 months of duty he was appointed to Major and given command of Chrystal III a secret Air Base for refueling bombers on their way to the European Theater.
After the war Dyer joined the Arctic Operations of the U. S. Weather Bureau. This work would be expanded to become the Polar Operations. Dyer returned to the Antarctic with the International Geophysical Year in 1956-57. By the time he retired from the Weather Bureau in 1974, he was Director of the expanded Overseas Operations. His duties included coordinating and managing the operation of Weather Bureau meteorological programs conducted and based in areas outside the basic
jurisdiction. This included operations on the high seas, Polar Regions, U.S. Mexicoand the Caribbeanarea.
After retiring, Dyer and his wife Nona moved to
where his wife could help care for her aging parents. A close architect friend sought him out to oversee the building of a multi-level parking garage for a large shopping mall in the center of Utah . The next twenty years were spent encouraging and guiding his four children and thirty-two grandchildren. He passed away peacefully at his daughter’s home on March 13th 1994, after an extended battle with Cancer. Salt Lake City
Antarctic Service Medal Gold
Lead the southeast sledging party; surveyed the area now referred to as the Dyer Plateau.
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