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13 of history's greatest polar explorers

By: Laura Moss on Nov. 16, 2011, 8:52 a.m.
Richard Evelyn Byrd

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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Richard Evelyn Byrd

Rear Admiral Richard Evelyn Byrd was a U.S. Naval officer and pilot who was the first person to fly to the North and South Poles — although there is some controversy over whether Byrd actually made it to the North Pole in 1926. Byrd undertook five Antarctic expeditions, and on his second one he became one of the first people to spend the winter on the continent, spending five months operating a meteorological station alone, which is described in his aptly titled autobiography, “Alone.” By the time Byrd died in 1957, he had amassed 22 citations and special commendations, including the Medal of Honor.