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Richard Evelyn Byrd Passes Away

Today in Masonic history Richard Evelyn Byrd passes away in 1957.

Richard Evelyn Byrd was a United States Naval Officer who specialized in exploration, especially in polar regions.

Byrd was born on October 25th, 1888 in Winchester, Virginia. He attended the Virginia Military Institute for two years, one year at the University of Virginia and finally graduated from the United States Naval Academy on June 8th, 1912.

In May of 1926 Byrd claimed to have made to the North Pole. This has been argued back and forth as to whether he actually flew over the North Pole. One of his chief critics was Bernt Balchen who worked with Byrd on several South Pole expeditions.

In 1927 Byrd and his team tried to win the Ortieg prize for the first Trans-Atlantic flight. On a practice take off the plane crashed injuring the pilot and Byrd. While the plane was being repaired Charles Lindbergh won the price. After replacing his original pilot with Balchen, Byrd's team successfully flew across the Atlantic from New York to France. When they arrived in Paris heavy cloud cover prevented a landing. They returned to the Normandy coast and made a water landing, it was not a water equipped aircraft. The whole crew were able to walk away from the crash.

In 1928 Byrd would lead his first expedition to the Antarctica. His second came in 1934, a third in 1939, a fourth called Operation Highjump in 1946 and finally in 1955 he was part of a multinational collaboration. On the 1955 expedition permanent bases were established in McMurdo Sound, the Bay of Whales and the South Pole.

Byrd passed away on March 11th, 1957.

Byrd was very active in the masonic fraternity. He was a member of Federal Lodge No. 1 in Washington DC, affiliated with Kane Lodge No. 454 in New York, a member of the National Sojourners Chapter No. 3 in Washington D.C. and in 1935 he was one of the founding members of Antarctic Lodge No. 777 established under the constitution of New Zealand.

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March 2018