Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd 1968 Signed Trans-polar Flight Cachet
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Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd 1968 Signed Trans-polar Flight Cachet:
Rear Admiral RICHARD E. BYRD 1968 SIGNED TRANS-POLAR Flight Cachet
It was canceled 8 Nov 1968. It is franked with stamp "Air Mail".
This cover is in good, but NOT perfect condition. Please look at the scan and make your own judgement. There is what looks like some fire damage in the upper left hand corner.
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Rear Admiral Richard Evelyn Byrd Jr., USN (October 25, 1888 – March 11, 1957) was an American naval officer who specialized in feats of exploration. 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. However, his claim to have reached the North Pole is disputed.
3 Early naval career
4 First World War
5 Post war
6 1926 North Pole flight
7 1927 Trans-Atlantic flight
8 Early Antarctic expeditions
8.1 First Antarctic expedition (1928–1930)
8.2 Second Antarctic expedition
8.3 Antarctic Service Expedition (1939–1940)
9 World War II
10 Later Antarctic expeditions
10.1 Operation Highjump (1946–1947)
10.2 Operation Deep Freeze I (1955–1956)
14 Military awards
14.1 Decorations and medals
14.2 Medal of Honor citation
14.3 Navy Cross citation
14.4 1st Distinguished Service Medal citation
14.5 2nd Distinguished Service Medal citation
14.6 1st Legion of Merit citation
14.7 2nd Legion of Merit citation
14.8 Distinguished Flying Cross citation
15 Dates of rank
16 See also
18 External links
19 Further reading
Ancestral Coat of Arms of the Byrd family
Byrd was born in Winchester, Virginia, the son of Esther Bolling (Flood) and Richard Evelyn Byrd Sr. He was a descendant of one of the First Families of Virginia. His ancestors include planter John Rolfe and his wife Pocahontas, William Byrd II of Westover Plantation, who established Richmond, and Robert "King" Carter, a colonial governor. He was the brother of Virginia Governor and U.S. Senator Harry F. Byrd, a dominant figure in the Virginia Democratic Party from the 1920s until the 1960s; their father served as Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates for a time.
On January 20, 1915, Richard married Marie Donaldson Ames (d. 1974). He would later name a region of Antarctic land he discovered "Marie Byrd Land" after her. They had four children – Richard Evelyn Byrd III, Evelyn Bolling Byrd Clarke, Katharine Agnes Byrd Breyer, and Helen Byrd Stabler. By late 1924, the Byrd family moved into a large brownstone at 9 Brimmer Street in Boston's fashionable Beacon Hill neighborhood that had been purchased by Marie's father, a wealthy industrialist. It would be Byrd's primary residence for the rest of his life. Noted naval historian Samuel Eliot Morison also lived on Brimmer Street.
Byrd attended the Virginia Military Institute for two years and spent one year at the University of Virginia before financial circumstances inspired his transfer to the United States Naval Academy, where he was appointed Midshipman on May 28, 1908. While at the Academy, he severely injured his right ankle while performing a gymnastics routine. While he was able to graduate from the Academy, the injured ankle was the reason for his medical retirement from the Navy in 1916.
Early naval career
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 and was later assigned to the gunboat USS Dolphin, which also served as the yacht of the Secretary of the Navy. While serving on board Dolphin he made the acquaintance of future Fleet Admiral William D. Leahy, then the Dolphin's commanding officer, and Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin D. Roosevelt, who used Dolphin for transportation. He was assigned to Dolphin when she was involved in the United States' intervention in Veracruz, Mexico in 1914.
On March 15, 1916, Byrd was medically retired for a foot injury he suffered on board the Dolphin. He was immediately promoted to the rank of lieutenant (junior grade) and assigned as the Inspector and Instructor for the Rhode Island Naval Militia in Providence, Rhode Island. On December 14, 1916, he was commissioned as a commander in the Rhode Island Naval Militia. On April 25, 1928, by act of the Rhode Island General Assembly, he was promoted to captain in the Rhode Island Naval Militia in recognition of his flight to the North Pole in 1926.
First World War
Richard Byrd in flight jacket, 1920s
Byrd served on active duty during the First World War. He had the foresight to realize that aviation was going to expand rapidly in the next few years. Byrd volunteered to become a naval aviator, took flying lessons and earned his pilot wings in August 1917. He developed a passion for flight, and pioneered many techniques for navigating airplanes over the open ocean including drift indicators, the sun compass and bubble sextants.
During the First World War, Byrd was assigned to the Office of Naval Operations and served as secretary and organizer of the Navy Department Commission on Training Camps and trained men in aviation at the aviation ground school in Pensacola, Florida. He then commanded naval air forces at Naval Air Station Halifax in Nova Scotia, Canada from July 1918 until the armistice in November.
He was promoted to lieutenant on September 2, 1918, and to temporary lieutenant commander on September 21, 1918.
After the war, Byrd's expertise in aerial navigation resulted in his appointment to plan the flight path for the U.S. Navy's 1919 transatlantic crossing. Of the three flying boats that attempted it, only Albert Read's NC-4 aircraft completed the trip, becoming the first ever transatlantic flight.
He commanded the aviation unit of the arctic expedition to North Greenland led by Donald B. MacMillan from June to October 1925. This position gave Byrd an appreciation for the benefits aircraft could bring to Arctic exploration. As a result, he employed aircraft in all of his future expeditions.
1926 North Pole flight
The Fokker F.VII of Byrd and Bennett in flight.
On May 9, 1926, Byrd and Navy Chief Aviation Pilot Floyd Bennett attempted a flight over the North Pole in a Fokker F.VIIa/3m Tri-motor monoplane named Josephine Ford, after the daughter of Ford Motor Company president Edsel Ford, who helped finance the expedition. The flight went from Spitsbergen (Svalbard) and back to its take-off airfield, lasting fifteen hours and fifty-seven minutes (including 13 minutes of circling the pole). Byrd and Bennett claimed to have reached the pole, a distance of 1,535 miles (1,335 nautical miles).
When he returned to the United States from the Arctic, Byrd became a national hero. Congress passed a special act on December 21, 1926, promoting him to the rank of commander and awarding both him and Floyd Bennett the Medal of Honor. Bennett was promoted to the warrant officer rank of Machinist. Byrd and Bennett were presented with Tiffany Cross versions of the Medal of Honor on March 5, 1927, at the White House by President Calvin Coolidge. The widespread acclaim from the flight enabled Byrd to secure funding for the subsequent attempt to fly over the South Pole.
The Fokker FVIIa/3M – "Josephine Ford", on display at The Henry Ford Museum
Since 1926, there have been doubts raised, defenses made, and heated controversy over whether or not Byrd actually reached the North Pole. In 1958, Norwegian-American aviator and explorer Bernt Balchen cast doubt on Byrd's claim on the basis of his knowledge of the airplane's speed. Balchen claimed that Bennett had confessed to him months after the flight that he and Byrd had not reached the pole. Bennett died on April 25, 1928, during a flight to rescue downed aviators in Greenland. However, Bennett had started a memoir, given numerous interviews, and wrote an article for an aviation magazine about the flight before his death that all confirmed Byrd's version of the flight.
The 1996 release of Byrd's diary of the May 9, 1926, flight revealed erased (but still legible) sextant sights that sharply differ with Byrd's later June 22 typewritten official report to the National Geographic Society. Byrd took a sextant reading of the Sun at 7:07:10 GCT. His erased diary record shows the apparent (observed) solar altitude to have been 19°25'30", while his later official typescript reports the same 7:07:10 apparent solar altitude to have been 18°18'18". On the basis of this and other data in the diary, Dennis Rawlins concluded that Byrd steered accurately, and flew about eighty percent of the distance to the Pole before turning back because of an engine oil leak, but later falsified his official report to support his claim of reaching the pole. Others disagree with Rawlins. In 1998, Colonel William Molett, an experienced navigator published Due north?; Molett maintained that Rawlins had put too much significance in erased navigational calculations which can be explained by any number of other reasons, including favorable wind speeds as well as simple human error due to stress and lack of sleep. None of Molett's hypotheses explain how Byrd could have observed two completely different sextant altitudes in the same second of time.
Accepting that the conflicting data in the typed report's flight times indeed require both northward and southward ground speeds greater than the flight's eighty-five mph airspeed, a Byrd defender posits a westerly-moving anti-cyclone that tailwind-boosted Byrd's ground speed on both outward and inward legs, allowing the distance claimed to be covered in the time claimed (the theory is based on rejecting handwritten sextant data in favor of typewritten alleged dead-reckoning data). This suggestion has been challenged by Dennis Rawlins who adds that the sextant data in the long unavailable original official typewritten report are all expressed to 1", a precision not possible on Navy sextants of 1926 and not the precision of the sextant data in Byrd's diary for 1925 or the 1926 flight, which was normal (half or quarter of a minute of arc).
If Byrd and Bennett did not reach the North Pole, then the first flight over the Pole occurred a few days later, on May 12, 1926, with the flight of the airship Norge that flew from Spitsbergen (Svalbard) to Alaska nonstop with its crew of Roald Amundsen, Umberto Nobile, Oscar Wisting, and others. Amundsen and Wisting had both been members of the first expedition to reach the South Pole in December 1911.
1927 Trans-Atlantic flight
Lt. Com. Byrd and aircraft
In 1927, Byrd announced he had the backing of the American Trans-Oceanic Company, which had been established in 1914 by department-store magnate Rodman Wanamaker for the purpose of building aircraft to complete non-stop flights across the Atlantic Ocean. Byrd was one of several aviators who attempted to win the Orteig Prize in 1927 for making the first nonstop flight between the United States and France.
Once again Byrd named Floyd Bennett as his chief pilot, with Bernt Balchen, Bert Acosta, and Lieutenant George Noville as other crewmembers. During a practice takeoff with Tony Fokker at the controls and Bennett in the co-pilot seat, the Fokker Trimotor airplane, America, crashed, severely injuring Bennett and slightly injuring Byrd. As the plane was being repaired, Charles Lindbergh won the prize by completing his historic flight on May 21, 1927. (Coincidentally, in 1925, Army Air Service Reserve Corps Lieutenant Lindbergh had applied to serve as a pilot on Byrd's North Pole expedition, but apparently his offer came too late.)
Byrd continued with his quest to cross the Atlantic non-stop, naming Balchen to replace Bennett as chief pilot. Byrd, Balchen, Acosta, and Noville flew from Roosevelt Field East Garden City, New York on June 29, 1927. Arriving over France the next day, they were prevented from landing in Paris by cloud cover; they returned to the coast of Normandy and crash-landed near the beach at Ver-sur-Mer (also known as Gold Beach) without fatalities on July 1, 1927. In France, Byrd and his crew were received as heroes and Byrd was invested as an Officer of the French Legion of Honor by Prime Minister Raymond Poincare on July 6.
After their return to the United States, an elaborate dinner in their honor in New York City on July 19. Byrd and Noville were awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross by Secretary of the Navy Curtis D. Wilbur at the dinner. Acosta and Balchen did not receive the Distinguished Flying Cross because at that time it could only be awarded to members of the armed services and not to civilians.
Byrd wrote an article for the August 1927 edition of Popular Science Monthly in which he accurately predicted that while specially modified aircraft with one to three crewmen would fly the Atlantic non-stop, it would be another 20 years before it would be realized on a commercial scale.
Early Antarctic expeditions
First Antarctic expedition (1928–1930)
Remains of Fokker aircraft in the Rockefeller Mountains, Antarctica in 1993
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 RMS Titanic when the latter was sinking); a Ford Trimotor 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 Virginia Aviation Museum, on loan from the National Air and Space Museum); and a Fokker 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.
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 Ford Trimotor 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, in order to achieve the altitude of the Polar Plateau, but they were ultimately successful.
Admiral Byrd (circa 1955)
As a result of his fame, 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. He is one of only three persons, one being Admiral David Dixon Porter and the other being arctic explorer Donald Baxter MacMillan, known 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. A 19-year-old American Boy Scout, Paul Allman Siple, was chosen to accompany the expedition. 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.
Second Antarctic expedition
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, which was powered by a Jacobs Wind 2.5 kW. A postal employee worked under extremely difficult conditions to cancel 153,217 envelopes for collectors. In 1934 a Miniature sheet showing six of the stamps was also issued.
Byrd Antarctic expedition Commemorative Issue of 1933
A CBS radio station, KFZ, was set up on the base camp ship, the Bear of Oakland ( USS Bear) and The Adventures of Admiral Byrd were 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.
Antarctic Service Expedition (1939–1940)
Main article: United States Antarctic Service Expedition
Byrd's third expedition was his first one on which he had the official backing of the U.S. government. The project included extensive studies of geology, biology, meteorology and exploration. 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.
World War II
As a senior officer in the United States Navy, Byrd served on active duty during World War II (1941–45), mostly as the confidential advisor to the Commander in Chief, United States Fleet and Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Ernest J. King. From 1942 to 1945 he headed South Pacific Island Base Inspection Board, which had important missions to the Pacific, including surveys of remote islands for airfields. On one assignment he visited the fighting front in Europe.
On February 10, 1945 Byrd received the Order of Christopher Columbus from the government of Santo Domingo. Byrd was present at the Japanese surrender in Tokyo Bay on September 2, 1945.
In recognition of his service during World War II, Byrd was twice awarded the Legion of Merit.
Later Antarctic expeditions
Operation Highjump (1946–1947)
Cover of Byrd's Autobiography
Admiral Byrd during Operation Deep Freeze I (Dec. 1955)
In 1946, Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal appointed Byrd as officer in charge of Antarctic Developments Project. Byrd's fourth Antarctic expedition was codenamed Operation Highjump. It was the largest Antarctic expedition to date and was expected to last six to eight months.
The expedition was supported by a large naval force (designated Task Force 68), commanded by Rear Admiral Richard H. Cruzen. There were thirteen US Navy support ships (besides the Flagship USS Mount Olympus and the aircraft carrier USS Philippine Sea), six helicopters, six flying boats, two seaplane tenders, and fifteen other aircraft. The total number of personnel involved was over 4,000.
The armada arrived in the Ross Sea on December 31, 1946, and made aerial explorations of an area half the size of the United States, recording ten new mountain ranges. The major area covered was the Eastern coastline of Antarctica from 150 degrees east to the Greenwich meridian.
Admiral Byrd was interviewed by Lee van Atta of International News Service aboard the expeditions command ship USS Mount Olympus, in which he discussed the lessons learned from the operation. The interview appeared in the Wednesday, March 5, 1947 edition of the Chilean newspaper El Mercurio, and read in part as follows:
"Admiral Richard E. Byrd warned today that the United States should adopt measures of protection against the possibility of an invasion of the country by hostile planes coming from the polar regions. The admiral explained that he was not trying to scare anyone, but the cruel reality is that in case of a new war, the United States could be attacked by planes flying over one or both poles. This statement was made as part of a recapitulation of his own polar experience, in an exclusive interview with International News Service. Talking about the recently completed expedition, Byrd said that the most important result of his observations and discoveries is the potential effect that they have in relation to the security of the United States. The fantastic speed with which the world is shrinking – recalled the admiral – is one of the most important lessons learned during his recent Antarctic exploration. I have to warn my compatriots that the time has ended when we were able to take refuge in our isolation and rely on the certainty that the distances, the oceans, and the poles were a guarantee of safety." 
Operation Deep Freeze I (1955–1956)
As part of the multinational collaboration for the International Geophysical Year (IGY) 1957–58, Byrd commanded the U.S. Navy Operation Deep Freeze I in 1955–56 which established permanent Antarctic bases at McMurdo Sound, the Bay of Whales, and the South Pole. This was Byrd's last trip to Antarctica and marked the beginning of a permanent U.S. military