Richard E. Byrd
Explorer - Aviator Masonic FDC
Richard E. Byrd (1888-1957) Polar Explorer,
Naval Officer, Pioneer Aviator. Born October 25, 1888 at Winchester,
Virginia, a brother of Harry F. Byrd, governor and senator. He graduated
from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1912 and advanced to Lieutenant Commander at
retirement in 1916 and later promoted to Commander after his flight over the
North Pole in 1926. He was given the rank of Rear Admiral in 1930.
During WWI he entered the Aviation Service and commanded U.S. Air Forces until
armistice. In WWII he served with Admiral King in Washington and Nimitz
in the Pacific, going overseas four times. He was highly decorated
including the Congressional Medal of Honor in 1926 and special Congressional
Medals in 1930, 37 and 46. He made his famous flight over the North Pole
on May 9, 1926 with Floyd Bennett. In 1927 he made he made a
trans-Atlantic flight of 4,200 miles with three companions--New York to
France. His first Antarctic expedition was in 1928-30 and his second in
1933-35. He discovered the Edsel Ford Mountains and Marie Byrd Land.
He spent five months alone near the South Pole. In 1939 he was made
commander of the U.S. Antarctic Service and again went to the South Polar
region, discovering five new mountain ranges, five islands, and more than
100,000 square miles of area. In 1946 he was named commanding officer of
the U.S. Navy Antarctic Expedition and again in 1956 headed the U.S.
Expedition in Antarctic exploration. He became a member of Federal Lodge
No. 1, Washington, D.C. on March 19, 1921 and affiliated with Kane Lodge No.
454, New York City, September 18, 1928. He was a member of National
Sojourner Chapter No. 3 at Washington. He and his pilot, Bernt Balchen
dropped Masonic flags on the two poles--Balchen also added his Shrine fez.
In the Antarctic expedition of 1933-35, 60 of the 82 members were Freemasons
and on February 5, 1935 established First Antarctic Lodge No. 777 of New
Zealand constitution. He died March 11, 1957.