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March 15, 1940 – Salute to Admiral Richard Byrd – NBC Red Network – Gordon Skene Sound Collection
Admiral Richard Byrd was an American naval officer and explorer. He was a recipient of the Medal of Honor, the highest honor for valor given by the United States, and was a pioneering American aviator, polar explorer, and organizer of polar logistics. Aircraft flights in which he served as a navigator and expedition leader crossed the Atlantic Ocean, a segment of the Arctic Ocean, and a segment of the Antarctic Plateau. He undertook five expeditions to Antarctica and made the first-ever flight over the South Pole on November 28, 1929. Byrd also claimed that his expeditions had been the first to reach both the North Pole and the South Pole by air. His claim to have reached the North Pole is disputed. He is also known for discovering Mount Sidley, the largest dormant volcano in Antarctica.
Byrd’s third expedition was his first one on which he had the official backing of the U.S. government. The principal objective was the delineation of the continental coast line between the meridians 72 degrees W., and 148 degrees W., and the consolidation of the geographical features of Hearst Land, James W. Ellsworth Land, and Marie Byrd Land. A second objective involved the delineation of the then-unknown west coast of the Weddell Sea between Cape Eielson and Luitpold Coast. Of significance was the establishment and occupation for a year of two separate bases 1600 miles (2575 km) apart by air and 2200 miles (3541 km) by sea. Observations were concluded in every conceivable area: seismic, cosmic ray, auroral, biological, tidal, magnetic and physiological to name a few. All in all, it was an extremely successful expedition.
Flights by seaplane from the USS BEAR and by land based airplanes from Little America III resulted in approximately 700 miles (1127 km) of coastline being added to the map of Antarctica. Reconnaissance flights revealed previously unknown parts of the Ross Ice Shelf. Gaps in the unexplored regions between the Beardmore and Liv Glaciers in the Queen Maud Mountains were also filled in. Further aerial reconnaissance from East Base extended the coastline of Antarctica westward to about the 85th meridian, west.
A sledging party discovered the western outlet of George VI Sound, settling once and for all that Alexander Island was indeed an island. Other sledge teams conducted a ground survey of the east coast of the Antarctic Peninsula; triangulated the position of 58 mountains; collected biological and geological specimens; and photographed the terrain they covered. The first high-altitude meteorological station in Antarctica was operated during November and December, 1940.
This broadcast, on the occasion of the Byrd expedition leaving Antarctica and heading back to the U.S. is a salute to this third trek to Little America and features a number of notable personalities as well as family members of the crew. The broadcast was relayed to Byrd’s ship.