Richard Evelyn Byrd

Richard Evelyn Byrd (1888 - 1957)

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Admiral Richard Evelyn Byrd
Born in Winchester, Virginia, United Statesmap
Ancestors ancestors
Husband of — married in Winchester, Virginia, USAmap
Died in Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts, United Statesmap
Byrd-964 created 28 Aug 2013 | Last modified
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Rear Admiral Richard Evelyn Byrd, Jr., USN was an American naval officer dedicated to exploration, focusing on polar regions and aviation.[1]

Richard Evelyn Byrd was born 25 October 1888 to Richard Evelyn Bird and Esther Bolling Flood in Winchester, Winchester City, Virginia.[2][1][3] He was a descendant many notable Virginians.[1] He was the brother of Democratic Virginia Governor and U.S. Senator Harry F. Byrd, and their father served as Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates for a time.[1][4]

Richard was married on 19 January 1915 to Marie Donaldson Ames, daughter of Joseph and Helen Ames, in Winchester, Virginia.[1][4]

The family lived in Boston, Massachusetts.[5][6]

Richard attended the University of Virginia, and later entered the US Naval Academy.[2][1] A gymnastics injury forced him to retire from the navy, but World War I opened a door for him to re-enter into the Navy's aviation branch.[2] Byrd and his best friend and co-pilot, Floyd Bennett, led an expedition to Greenland in 1924.[2] In 1926, they led another expedition to the North Pole which was riddled with issues at the end.[2] President Calvin Coolidge awarded both men with a Medal of Honor after their return from that trip.[2] They started planning their next flight-a transatlantic quest.[2] Bennett was unable to join him due to an injury, and Byrd took three other companions. They crash landed in France, after making the trip, and Byrd was named Commandant in the Legion d'Honneur.[2] In 1928, Richard sailed to Antarctica and established Little America, a base still there today.[2]

Following the death of his dear friend, Floyd Bennett, Richard made a historic flight to the South Pole, on November 29, 1929.[2] This feat initiated his promotion to Rear Admiral, after which he retired from the Navy.[2] In 1933, he led an expedition to explore and map Antarctica.[2] He attempted to spend time living there and observing in 1934, but had to be rescued after frostbite and carbon monoxide poisoning made him gravely ill.[2] He then devoted his time to writing his book, "Alone".[2] He would still lead three more expeditions and serve on the staff of the Chief of Naval Operations during World War II.[2] He took his last flight to the South Pole in 1956.[2]

Byrd's other honors included the Navy Cross, Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit with Gold Star, and the Distinguished Flying Cross.[2] He is also memorialized with a life-sized statue on Memorial Drive along the approach to Arlington National Cemetery.[2]

Richard died in his sleep on 11 March 1957 of a heart ailment at his Brimmer Street home in the Beacon Hill neighborhood in Boston.[2][1] He was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.[2]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Wikipedia contributors, "Richard E. Byrd," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, (accessed November 29, 2016).
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 2.16 2.17 2.18 2.19 Find A Grave Memorial# 156 for Richard Evelyn Byrd
  3. "United States Census, 1900," database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 29 November 2016), Richard E Byrd, Stonewall District (south & east part) Manchester town, Frederick, Virginia, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 29, sheet 1B, family 13, NARA microfilm publication T623 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1972.); FHL microfilm 1,241,709.
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Virginia Marriages, 1785-1940," database, FamilySearch ( : 5 December 2014), Richard E. Byrd, Jr. and Marie D. Ames, 19 Jan 1915; citing Winchester, Virginia, reference img 88; FHL microfilm 2,048,496.
  5. "United States Census, 1940," database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 29 November 2016), Richard E Byrd, Ward 5, Boston, Boston City, Suffolk, Massachusetts, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 15-204, sheet 2A, line 39, family 63, Sixteenth Census of the United States, 1940, NARA digital publication T627. Records of the Bureau of the Census, 1790 - 2007, RG 29. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2012, roll 1663.
  6. "United States Census, 1930," database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 29 November 2016), Richard E Byrd, Boston (Districts 580-690), Suffolk, Massachusetts, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 600, sheet 3A, line 41, family 47, NARA microfilm publication T626 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2002), roll 945; FHL microfilm 2,340,680.
  • "United States Census, 1920," database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 29 November 2016), Richard E Byrd in household of Eustace C Owen, Washington, Washington, District of Columbia, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 63, sheet 9A, line 33, family 205, NARA microfilm publication T625 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1992), roll 206; FHL microfilm 1,820,206.
    • Bound Away: Virginia and the Westward Movement. David Hackett Fischer and James C. Kelly. 2000. University of Virginia Press. p186.
  • "New York, New York Passenger and Crew Lists, 1909, 1925-1957," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 2 October 2015), Richard E Byrd, 1927; citing Immigration, New York, New York, United States, NARA microfilm publication T715 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).

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Admiral Richard Byrd
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