Richard E. Byrd


Richard E. Byrd was born on October 25th, 1888 in Winchester, Virginia, United States and is the Explorer from United States. Discover Richard E. Byrd's biography, age, height, physical stats, dating/affair, family, hobbies, education, career updates, and networth at the age of 68 years old.

Date of Birth
October 25, 1888
United States
Place of Birth
Winchester, Virginia, United States
Death Date
Mar 11, 1957 (age 68)
Zodiac Sign
Aircraft Pilot, Explorer, Military Officer, Oceanographer
Richard E. Byrd Height, Weight, Eye Color and Hair Color

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Richard E. Byrd Religion, Education, and Hobbies
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Richard E. Byrd Spouse(s), Children, Affair, Parents, and Family
Marie Donaldson Ames, ​ ​(m. 1915)​
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About Richard E. Byrd

Rear Admiral Richard Evelyn Byrd Jr. (October 25, 1888 – March 11, 1957) 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.

Byrd 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.

Education and early naval career

Byrd attended the Virginia Military Institute for two years and transferred to the University of Virginia, before financial circumstances inspired his starting over and taking an appointment to the United States Naval Academy, where he was appointed as a midshipman on May 28, 1908. While at the Naval Academy, he suffered two injuries to his right ankle (one was by playing football and the other was while dismounting gymnastic rings during a competition). Although he was allowed to remain at the academy, his injuries eventually led to his forced retirement from the Navy in 1916.

On June 8, 1912, Byrd graduated from the Naval Academy and was commissioned an ensign in the United States Navy. On July 14, 1912, he was assigned to the battleship USS Wyoming. During service in the Caribbean Sea, Byrd received his first letter of commendation, and later a Silver Lifesaving Medal, for twice plunging fully clothed to the rescue of a sailor who had fallen overboard. In April 1914, he transferred to the armored cruiser USS Washington and served in Mexican waters in June following the American intervention in April.

His next assignment was to the gunboat USS Dolphin, which also served as the yacht of the Secretary of the Navy. This assignment brought Byrd into contact with high-ranking officials and dignitaries, including then Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin Roosevelt. He was promoted to the rank of lieutenant (junior grade) on June 8, 1915. During Byrd's assignment to Dolphin, she was commanded by future Fleet Admiral William D. Leahy, who served as chief of staff to President Franklin D. Roosevelt during World War II. Byrd's last assignment before forced retirement was to the presidential yacht USS Mayflower.

On March 15, 1916, Byrd, much to his frustration, was medically retired on three-quarters pay for an ankle injury he suffered on board Mayflower. Shortly thereafter, on December 14, 1916, he was assigned as the inspector and instructor for the Rhode Island Naval Militia in Providence, Rhode Island. While serving in this position, he was commended by Brigadier General Charles W. Abbot, the adjutant general of Rhode Island, for making great strides in improving the efficiency of the militia, and on April 25, 1928, was promoted to captain by act of the Rhode Island General Assembly in recognition of his flight to the North Pole in 1926.

Early Antarctic expeditions

In 1928, Byrd began his first expedition to the Antarctic involving two ships and three airplanes: Byrd's flagship was the City of New York (a Norwegian sealing ship previously named Samson that had come into fame as a ship some claimed was in the vicinity of the Titanic when the latter was sinking) and the Eleanor Bolling (named after Byrd's mother); a Ford Trimotor airplane called the Floyd Bennett (named after the recently deceased pilot of Byrd's previous expeditions) flown by Dean Smith; a Fairchild FC-2W2, NX8006, built 1928, named Stars And Stripes (now displayed at the National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center); and a Fokker Super Universal monoplane called the Virginia (Byrd's birth state). A base camp named "Little America" was constructed on the Ross Ice Shelf, and scientific expeditions by snowshoe, dog sled, snowmobile, and airplane began. To increase the interest of youth in arctic exploration, a 19-year-old American Boy Scout, Paul Allman Siple, was chosen to accompany the expedition. Siple went on to earn an doctorate and was probably the only person, other than Byrd himself, to participate in all five of Byrd's Antarctic expeditions.

Photographic expeditions and geological surveys were undertaken for the duration of that summer, and constant radio communications were maintained with the outside world. After their first winter, their expeditions were resumed, and on November 28, 1929, the first flight to the South Pole and back was launched. Byrd, along with pilot Bernt Balchen, co-pilot/radioman Harold June, and photographer Ashley McKinley, flew the Floyd Bennett to the South Pole and back in 18 hours, 41 minutes. They had difficulty gaining enough altitude, and they had to dump empty gas tanks, as well as their emergency supplies, to achieve the altitude of the Polar Plateau, but they were ultimately successful.

As a result of his achievement, Byrd was promoted to the rank of rear admiral by a special act of Congress on December 21, 1929. As he was only 41 years old at the time, this promotion made Byrd the youngest admiral in the history of the United States Navy. By way of comparison, none of his Annapolis classmates became admirals until 1942, after 30 years of commissioned service. He is one of only three persons, one being Admiral David Dixon Porter and the other being Arctic explorer Donald Baxter MacMillan, to have been promoted to the rank of rear admiral in the United States Navy without having first held the rank of captain.

After a further summer of exploration, the expedition returned to North America on June 18, 1930. Unlike the 1926 flight, this expedition was honored with the gold medal of the American Geographical Society. This was also seen in the film With Byrd at the South Pole (1930), which covered his trip there.

Byrd, by then an internationally recognized, pioneering American polar explorer and aviator, served for a time as Honorary National President (1931–1935) of Pi Gamma Mu, the international honor society in the social sciences. He carried the society's flag during his first Antarctic expedition to dramatize the spirit of adventure into the unknown, characterizing both the natural and social sciences.

To finance and gain both political and public support for his expeditions, Byrd actively cultivated relationships with many powerful individuals, including President Franklin Roosevelt, Henry Ford, Edsel Ford, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., and Vincent Astor. As a token of his gratitude, Byrd named geographic features in the Antarctic after his supporters.

On his second expedition in 1934, Byrd spent five winter months alone operating a meteorological station, Advance Base, from which he narrowly escaped with his life after suffering carbon monoxide poisoning from a poorly ventilated stove. Unusual radio transmissions from Byrd finally began to alarm the men at the base camp, who then attempted to go to Advance Base. The first two trips were failures due to darkness, snow, and mechanical troubles. Finally, Thomas Poulter, E. J. Demas, and Amory Waite arrived at Advance Base, where they found Byrd in poor physical health. The men remained at Advance Base until October 12. when an airplane from the base camp picked up Dr. Poulter and Byrd. The rest of the men returned to base camp with the tractor. This expedition is described by Byrd in his autobiography Alone. It is also commemorated in a U.S. postage stamp issued at the time, and a considerable amount of mail using it was sent from Byrd's base at Little America.

A CBS radio station, KFZ, was set up on the base camp ship, the Bear of Oakland and The Adventures of Admiral Byrd program was short-waved to Buenos Aires, then relayed to New York.

In late 1938, Byrd visited Hamburg, and was invited to participate in the 1938/1939 German "Neuschwabenland" Antarctic Expedition, but declined. (Although Germany was not at war with the United States at this time, Adolf Hitler had been serving as Führer of the German Reich since 1934, and invaded Poland the next year.)

Byrd's third expedition was the first one financed and conducted by the United States government. The project included extensive studies of geology, biology, meteorology, and exploration. The innovative Antarctic Snow Cruiser was brought with the expedition, but broke down shortly after arriving.

Within a few months, in March 1940, Byrd was recalled to active duty in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations. The expedition continued in Antarctica without him until the last of its participants left Antarctica on March 22, 1941.