National Geographic : 1959 Jan
Back from the White House, a Happy Skipper Returns to His Ship A helicopter picked up Anderson at sea. and a plane carried him from Iceland to Washington, D. C. President Eisenhower decorated him with the Legion of Merit. The ship received the Presidential Unit Citation, first ever given in peacetime. The cap tain rejoined Nautilus just before her triumphal arrival at Portland, England. open water. All sonars and the television gave negative ice reports. We slowed and eased upward to check. Nautilus stopped dead and got a perfect neutral trim. Commander Anderson ordered the diving officer, "Bring me up. Make it about 10 feet a minute." 5:39 a.m. Hooray! Open water all around, ice visible to the north and west, but two foot waves say this is the Greenland Sea. In a short while our messages went out. Washington, New London, and Pearl Harbor could relax. And so could we, as Nautilus submerged again and barreled south toward Iceland. I turned in. 1,500 Letters Mailed from Pole The next two and a half days seemed one continuous, frenetic scramble as the crew pre pared for the captain's departure. A heli copter was to pick him up off Iceland for a flying trip to Washington. We began to doubt that a helicopter would hold him and his luggage. He would carry some 1,500 letters from the Pole, reams of technical data, still and motion pictures, a chart and clock for Mrs. Eisenhower. The paper flew as we passed lonely, volcanic Jan Mayen Island. But very early on the 8th we were ready. Two seabags, two suitcases, a briefcase, and chart had been stacked in the wardroom. Nautilus lurked submerged 10 miles off the coast of Iceland; meanwhile, the captain took a nap, his last sleep for quite a while. Right on schedule the helicopter appeared, we surfaced, and crewmen boosted the skipper into the hovering 'copter. Nautilus submerged again and loafed along toward Europe. In the next weeks and months we would receive overwhelming receptions in England, New York, and Groton; honors, luncheons, speeches, letters, telegrams-enough to amaze us all. The first and most meaningful mes sage, though, came that early morning off Iceland in a plain white envelope handed down from the helicopter. It was addressed to the "Acting Commanding Officer." Inside we found a letter that said: "To the officers and men of the Nautilus. Congratulations on a mag nificent achievement. Well done. Dwight D. Eisenhower."