National Geographic : 1937 Jul
THE SOCIETY'S TO DR. SPECIAL MEDAL IS AWARDED THOMAS C. POULTER Admiral Byrd's Second-in-Command and Senior Scientist Is Accorded High Geographic Honor FOR his brilliant scientific achieve ments as director of research of the Byrd Antarctic Expedition of 1933-35, Dr. Thomas C. Poulter received on April 27 the National Geographic Society's Special Gold Medal-a distinction which has been conferred upon such outstanding contrib utors to geographic knowledge as Admiral Peary, Captain Amundsen, Admiral Byrd, and Amelia Earhart. Dr. Gilbert Grosvenor, President of The Society, presented the rarely bestowed award at a luncheon ceremony in the Geo graphic's Administration Building in Wash ington, D. C. Dr. Poulter and his fellow guest of honor, Admiral Byrd, greeted a notable gathering of scientists, high-ranking naval and military officers, Government offi cials, and other distinguished persons of the Nation's Capital. Near the speakers' table hung enlarged photographs depicting highlights of the his toric Expedition: an air view of Little Amer ica; Dr. Poulter's tractor party setting out to reach Admiral Byrd (page 108); and the Expedition's ship Bear of Oakland, homeward bound from the Antarctic, steam ing up the Potomac past Mount Vernon. Dr. Poulter's impressive career as a scien tist began at Iowa Wesleyan College, where he was graduated in 1923. There he later headed the Department of Chem istry and Physics and the Division of Phys ical Sciences, Mathematics, and Astronomy. He holds the degree of Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Chicago, and the commission of lieutenant commander in the United States Navy, where he serves in an advisory capacity connected with engineer ing research. Since his return from Ant arctica he has been appointed Executive Director of the Research Foundation of Armour Institute of Technology, in Chicago. Dr. Grosvenor, in presenting The So ciety's Special Medal, said: "On behalf of the Board of Trustees, offi cers, and members of the National Geo graphic Society, I have the greatest pleasure in welcoming this distinguished company to Explorers' Hall and thanking you for join ing with us in honoring one of the foremost scientists and most courageous and com petent explorers of America. "Dr. Thomas C. Poulter had achieved a notable record in education and research when Admiral Byrd chose him to prepare and direct the important scientific program of his most recent polar expedition. The confidence placed in him by the Admiral was rewarded by outstanding discoveries in many fields of investigation in the physi cal sciences. "But the most dramatic and the most re vealing demonstration of the unusual ability of Dr. Poulter was the extraordinary jour ney which he led to the advance base where Admiral Byrd had decided to pass the win ter alone to make important meteorological observations that he was unwilling to ask anyone else to risk making. "In the long history of heroic sacrifice for science, none so thrills the soul as the grim resolution of Byrd to stick it out, regardless of consequence to himself, and his deliberate concealment of his actual condition,* lest his men perish in the attempt to aid him at that dangerous season; and Dr. Poulter's equally dogged persistence and final success in trav ersing the ice in the blackness of polar night and storm, for the first time in polar exploration, thus saving the precious life of his leader and our beloved associate. "And now, Dr. Poulter, I have the honor to present to you this Special Gold Medal on which is inscribed: 'Awarded by the National Geographic Society to Thomas C. Poulter in recognition of his important explora tions and achievements and his tech nical researches as second in command of the Byrd Antarctic Expedition of 1933-1935.' " In accepting the award, Dr. Poulter said: "It is impossible for me adequately to ex * Before the middle of the winter night, Admiral Byrd was stricken down desperately ill from the poisonous fumes of a faulty burner on his oil stove and, for a number of weeks, there did not seem to be any chance of survival. He had made some slight gains when Dr. Poulter reached him, twelve days before the end of the long Antarctic night.