National Geographic : 1957 Jul
VOL. CXII, No. 1 WASHINGTON JULY, 1957 THE GEOGRAPC MAGAZEra COPYRIGHT @1957 BY NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC SOCIETY, WASHINGTON, D. C . INTERNATIONAL COPYRIGHT SECURED To the Men at South Pole Station BY REAR ADMIRAL RICHARD E. BYRD, USN Four days before he passed away on March 11, 1957, Admiral Byrd, a Trustee of the National Geographic Society, made final corrections in the following article for its Magazine and sent it to the Editor. In these, his last words written for publication, the great aerial explorer of both Poles pays tribute to Dr. Paul A. Siple, his protege of 29 years ago and staunch companion on every Byrd antarctic expedition since. In seven previous National Geographic articles since 1925, Admiral Byrd has greatly contributed to human knowledge of polar regions by recounting the results of his expeditions in fascinating firsthand narratives, classics in the annals of exploration. As Officer in Charge of United States Antarctic Programs, Admiral Byrd bore the over-all responsibility of establishing bases at the bottom of the world to add to scientific knowledge during the International Geophysical Year. It is appropriate that his last article should appear simultaneously with the beginning of that world-wide "symphony of science," the IGY, on July 1, 1957.-The Editor. AL Americans-for that matter, all peo ples everywhere-must share my ring ing pride that our Navy and Air Force have successfully built a scientific station at the geographic South Pole. This is a tremendous accomplishment, unique in polar discovery and exploration. Think of what it means, in terms of obstacles overcome and promise of scientific rewards! The base, now manned and operating, stands on a nearly featureless, 9,200-foot-high ice and snow plateau. Around it swirls the world's cruelest weather: early winter tem peratures there already have plunged to -72o F. and likely will drop lower than -100°. IGY Stations Encircle the Earth This South Pole Station, itself without counterpart, is, however, only one of more than 1,000 that will furnish data for the In ternational Geophysical Year-popularly, the "IGY." From July, 1957, through December, 1958, 58 nations will make concerted studies of the earth sciences in this global effort to enlarge man's knowledge of his physical en vironment. Highly skilled civilian specialists, selected with the approval of the U. S. Na tional Committee for the IGY, man the Amer ican bases jointly with Navy personnel.* As Officer in Charge of U. S. Antarctic Pro grams, I am proud to have a part in bring ing this ambitious conception to fruition. In January, 1956, I made a survey flight to scout conditions at 90° South, a year before the scheduled installation of the IGY station. For the sixth time in history, human beings were at the South Pole. For the third time, I was looking down upon it. At my side in the airplane sat Dr. Paul A. Siple, who had been with me on each of my four previous antarctic expeditions. Away back in 1928 a contest was held by the Boy Scouts of America to name one Scout to take part in my first expedition to Ant arctica. From thousands of candidates the choice was narrowed to six and then, with my full consent, to Paul Siple. That meeting comes back to me clearly. * See "The International Geophysical Year, Man's Most Ambitious Study of His Environment," by Hugh L. Dryden, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, February, 1956.