Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS

Montage of images and link description. Alone on the Ice Imagemap: linked to kids and home
The Film and More
Imagemap(text links below) of menu items
The American Experience
The Film & More
Reference
Interview Transcripts | Further Reading

Joseph Hill on: Rescuing Admiral Byrd
Joseph Hill Q: Byrd never issued a direct order to Little America to come rescue him or he claims he didn't. Why didn't he? What do you think of Byrd's decision to do that. He never said, come get me, very explicitly.

JH: Well, Byrd didn't ask to be rescued in my opinion because it simply was not in his character to even think of asking for his men to risk their lives to rescue him. I just don't think he even thought of it, or never would.


Q: What were the dangers of a tractor trip to advance base in the winter night. I mean how would they have to proceed in these conditions?

JH: In the winter night with the conditions existent over a trail that marked with red trail frags about every 100 or 2 or 3 or 400 yards, some of which may have been blown down or gone or disappeared, difficult to find at night, although it isn't black night, it's starlight, they are hard to see. And then the ever present danger of a crevasse giving way under your tractor and losing it. The simple process of a tractor just plain refusing to run. And the crew being stranded right there and having to wake, make their way back to camp at night over that trail on foot, at temperatures ranging 65 to 70 below zero. It was a very dangerous program.


Q: How would the tractors, the rescue team make their way out to advance base? How did they?

JH: The tractors, any navigation at night, was simply from one trailer flag to the other, trying to retrace a trail. Little orange flags that had been set at the 100 yard, 200, 300, 400 yards apart, may have blown away, may have just disappeared. So frequently somebody had to get down on the skis in front of the tractor and travel along by hand and wave them on, and direct them. Other times and this happened on the final trip out to get him with, we were able to get with a spotlight up on the cab of a tractor, and spot the flags ahead with a spotlight. It seemed to be pretty successful.


Q: Can you tell us the story of the three attempts made to rescue him?

JH: I know there were three attempts made to reach him. The first one as I remember something went wrong with the tractor. The second one they had trouble with the navigation, finding the way, and the third one they were able to take it through.

back to Interview Transcripts | next


Program Description | Enhanced Transcript | Reference

The Film & More | Special Features | Timeline | Maps | People & Events | Teacher's Guide
The American Experience | Kids | Feedback | Search | Shop | Subscribe

©  New content 1999 PBS Online / WGBH

Exclusive Corporate Funding is provided by: