Q: What's the significance of Byrd's drinking and what effect do you think
it had on his ability to get the job done?
ER: Byrd liked to drink. He often apologized to his wife, Marie, through
letters, which is how I knew about it, about drinking too much. At Antarctica
he drank on the way down. There was a birthday party for him on the ship on
the way down, and he got drunk. At Little America he and the rest of the men
drank laboratory alcohol which is 200 proof. They had to water it down, but it
was still potent stuff. And they all got drunk, Byrd included. This happened
frequently. However, I don't see Byrd ever getting so drunk that he couldn't
do, that he couldn't perform his mission. He got drunk at parties. I don't
think he drank alone. He drank too much. He drank at inappropriate times.
He'd drink on flights, but not where he was actually doing anything, where he
was essentially a passenger. So there's some question about whether Byrd could
be regarded as an alcoholic or not. He had problems with drink but I'll leave
that diagnosis to somebody else.