U.S. Airman Dies During Antarctic Deployment

An Airman deployed with his Air National Guard unit to Antarctica for Operation Deep Freeze died earlier this month because of natural causes, the U.S. Air Force announced.

Staff Sgt. George Girtler passed away January 11th while serving in support of Operation Deep Freeze in Antarctica from natural causes, according to a statement from New York Air National Guard’s 109th Airlift Wing.

“We are deeply saddened losing one of our own on the ice,” said Col Christian Sander, 109th vice commander. “Our thoughts and prayers are with Sgt. Girtler’s family and loved ones. We are grieving together as a Wing and community.”

Girtler, from Scotia, N.Y., was assigned to the 109th Maintenance Squadron as an Aircraft Electro-Environmental Systems Technician. He had deployed twice with the wing to Antarctica as well as to Greenland.

He joined the U.S. Air Force in 2010 and was assigned to the 109th Airlift Wing in 2012. He is survived by his wife and two children.

Operation Deep Freeze is a joint service, on-going Defense Support to Civilian Authorities (DSCA) activity to resupply the United States Antarctic stations in support of the National Science Foundation (NSF), the lead agency for the U.S. Antarctic Program. Mission support consists of active duty, Guard and Reserve personnel from the U.S. Air Force, Navy, Army, and Coast Guard as well as Department of Defense civilians and attached non-DOD civilians.

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