Airman Dies During Operation Deep Freeze Deployment

An airman deployed to Antarctica for Operation Deep Freeze died earlier this month because of natural causes, the Air Force announced.

SSgt. George Girtler an aircraft electrical and environmental specialist with the New York Air National Guard’s 139th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, died Jan. 11 at McMurdo Station.

“The sudden loss of SSgt Girtler has greatly impacted the McMurdo community and our Antarctic program partners,” said Col. Jamielyn Thompson, Joint Task Force-Support Forces Antarctica deputy commander, in a release.  “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends, and teammates during this difficult time.”

It is with a sad and heavy heart that we share the news that a member of our 109th Airlift Wing family has passed away….Posted by 109th Airlift Wing on Wednesday, January 15, 2020

The 139th EAS is part of the NY Guard’s 109th Airlift Wing based at Stratton ANGB in Schenectady. The wing flies specially equipped LC-130s with ski landing gear for the airlift missions in Antarctica.

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