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Joseph Hill on: Admiral Byrd's Legacy
Joseph Hill Q: What do you think Byrd's legacy was? What do you think his major accomplishments were?

JH: Well, I think you can just go run right down the line. He had a heck of a life prior to any of his exploration work or record-establishing flights. His trip as a kid to the east and so on. He was just a remarkable young man. I think he had great visions of what he wanted to do from a very early age. And was a magnificent planner, and he just had a way of accomplishing his ends. I think he was a very sensitive man. He was a very loyal man. In one of his books he said about his planning. I believe he said something to the effect that he let planning take the place of worry, advance planning would take the place of worry. And I think the evidence of all of his expeditions, all of his trips and so on proved that point.


Q: What do you think the legacy of the expedition that you were on with Byrd was?

JH: Looking back after these many years we all have to wonder whether or not the contribution was as great as we thought it was at the time. But I think it speaks well to the fact that of the many scientists that we had, almost every one of them went on in life and became an eminent scientist in his field. The Al Lindsay's and so on, just great scientists in their own right. Take the advance base case alone, probably in judging that, I'm not sure what the psychiatrists and the psychologists and the so forth would judge with respect to his experiences, maybe not much now. I'm not sure that the weather observations and the astronomical observations and the aurora australius observations really amounted to much in hindsight. At the time though they really did. And remember that we were the first, he was a great visionary. He was the first that set up an expedition to study a large unexplored area from many scientific viewpoints. It was not a stunt in any sense. It was simply that way. It was to open up new territory and to study the flora, the fauna and so on. It was his visionary work, his vision for that kind of work bore fruit in what you see down at the Antarctic today, of the many, many bases manned by many scientists doing work around the clock and around the calendar. So I guess you can say that was our legacy because we were the first expedition that really took a group of scientists down there to do that job.


Q: There's a wide range of opinion about Byrd. Some people loved him and were with him from the North Pole flight. How do you account for the fact that many people adored him and found him a man of great integrity and others didn't?

JH: I've thought of that some. I don't know why anybody would dislike him, other than he did make the final decisions. Under certain circumstances that I wouldn't even know about, I don't know why any individual would not like him, but, I guess most all of us at one time or another incur a little enmity in someone. And I can't answer the question as to why some people so violently disagreed with him over some of his things.

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