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Stevenson Corey on: Rescuing Byrd From Advance Base
Stevenson Corey Q: What was the effect of the illness on Little America? Were people concerned or angry and was there a lot of debate about rescuing him.

SC: Well, when this condition was apparent, we first acknowledged that well we all said, he shouldn't have gone out there in the first place and that he was a lousy operator to start with and he was having problems. It was some time before it developed that he was having health problems. We didn't realize initially that it was just his inadequacy as a radio operator. That was our only contact with him. And, then they tried to work with him over the period of time but he didn't improve and they discussed with him, over the air, coming out and he advised against it because of conditions. Then, ultimately, oh I can't say this officially and ultimately he asked for help.


Q: Was there a lot of debate about whether people should risk their lives to go rescue him?

SC: There was a, discussion as to who should go and when, if at all, because they didn't know what they were going to get into. We don't know. We were assuming that he was in trouble, on the basis of his radio transmissions, irregularity and so forth, making allowances for his expertise, as a radio operator.


Q: But, didn't rescuing him require other men to risk their lives. Why was it so risky to go out and rescue him?

SC: The danger of going out at that time of year, storms, darkness, unfamiliarity with the trail, you're using tractors and the ability of, your dependence on those tractors to keep running, in the cold, to get the men and the equipment to where they're going. We not only would fail to take care of him but we could fail in the, in jeopardizing other men's lives in trying to get to help him. So, you had to very careful and be sure that you were covering all the aspects of such a situation.


Q: Were there many people who said, we shouldn't go, we shouldn't risk our lives and there were other people that said, we should go.

SC: The feeling in the camp was if the old man's in trouble, we should do everything we could to help him. He hasn't asked for it, that's all the more reason we want to go out and help him, to save him, not only from possible death or the embarrassment of having asked for help. Then, the question comes up, who's going to go. We tried to pick the ones to go, that would serve all purposes and have the situation be successfully completed.


Q: Did the rescue team have a lot of trouble getting back, getting to him, did they have to turn back several times?

SC: Well at first the effort to get out to advance base failed. Why I think there were two or three times that the men got out a distance and something would come up and they had to come back or the weather would stop them and they came back. There were two or three times that they tried before they successfully got through.


Q: And, what did they find when they got there? How did they make their way there and what did they find when they got there?

SC: Well, when they got there, ultimately they found that they had a sick man on their hands. So, it was determined that instead of picking him up and coming right back to Little America, that they would stay there with him and try to get him back into some form of readiness physically to travel. It wasn't determined how they were going to travel. He came by airplane because by this time, the weather is changed and we're getting daylight, out of darkness.


Q: What kind of shape was he in when they found him?

SC: When they got there, they found a sick man. So, they nursed him and instead of trying to bring him over the trail, in a tractor or anything, it was determined that under the conditions, of the weather and his physical condition, it would be better that they would wait and get some light and use a plane and make a quick trip, which they did.

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