The United States Antarctic Service Expedition (1939–1941), often referred to as Byrd’s Third Antarctic Expedition, was an expedition jointly sponsored by the United States Navy, State Department, Department of the Interior and The Treasury. Although a U.S.-government sponsored expedition, additional support came from donations and gifts by private citizens, corporations and institutions.
Description of expedition
Background, orders and goals
Rear Admiral Richard Evelyn Byrd donated many of the supplies that he had gathered for his own expedition, the largest item being the Bear of Oakland, commissioned as the USS Bear (AG-29) on 11 September 1939. A second ship, the USMS North Star, a 1434-ton wooden ice ship built for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, was supplied by the Department of the Interior.
A total of 125 men departed from the United States in the two ships of the United States Antarctic Service Expedition. Most of the men who made up the expedition were solicited from the military ranks, civilian agencies of government and scientific institutions. A few volunteers were employed by the Department of the Interior for $10 per month, food and clothing included. A total of 59 men, divided initially into three groups, wintered in Antarctica.
The objectives of the expedition were outlined in an order from President Franklin D. Roosevelt dated November 25, 1939. The President wanted two bases to be established: East Base, in the vicinity of Charcot Island or Alexander I Land, or on Marguerite Bay if no accessible site could be found on either of the specified islands; and West Base, in the vicinity of King Edward VII Land, but if this proved impossible, a site on the Bay of Whales at or near Little America was to be investigated, and delineation of the continental coast line between the meridians 72 degrees W., and 148 degrees W. In view of the broad scope of the objectives and the unpredictable circumstances that always arise in Antarctica, it is remarkable that most of the objectives set for them were met.
The expedition also took a M2A2 Light Tank, and a T3E4 Carrier, both of which performed well, but were too heavy for the terrain and were abandoned.
Accomplishments and noteworthy events
The visionary but ill-fated Antarctic Snow Cruiser, a vehicle having several innovative features, was used by the expedition but it generally failed to operate as hoped for under the difficult conditions and was eventually abandoned in Antarctica. It was rediscovered in 1958 but has since been presumed to have been lost due to the breaking off and eventual melting of the ice floe it was on.
Observations were conducted in every conceivable area: seismic, cosmic ray, auroral, biological, tidal, magnetic and physiological to name a few. All in all, it was an extremely successful expedition.
Mission termination and aftermath
With international tensions on the rise, it was considered wise to evacuate the two bases rather than relieve the present personnel with new men who would continue to occupy the bases. It was hoped that one day this base would be reoccupied, so much of the equipment and supplies were left behind as the two ships sailed from West Base on February 1, 1941. The evacuation of East Base was concluded on March 22 and both ships sailed immediately. The USMS North Star arrived in Boston on May 5 and the USS Bear on May 18.
On September 24, 1945, Congress directed (Public Law 79-185, 59 Stat. 536) that such number of gold, silver, and bronze medals—at the discretion of the Secretary of the Navy—be presented to members of the United States Antarctic Expedition of 1939-1941, in recognition of their valuable services to the nation in the field of polar exploration and science.
The following is a partial list of expedition members.
- Richard Black, USN - Base Commander (East Base) 
- Herwil McClure Bryant - Biologist, Radio Operator (East Base) 
- Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd, USN - Expedition Commander
- Arthur J. Carroll, USN - Chief Photographer (East Base) 
- Zadik Collier - Aviation Machinist (East Base) 
- Richard H. Cruzen - Commanding officer of USS Bear
- Leland S. Curtis - official artist 
- Harry Darlington III - General Duty (East Base) 
- Herbert Dorsey - Meteorologist (East Base) 
- Hendrik Dolleman - Dog Driver (East Base)
- George J. Dufek - Navigator of USS Bear
- J. Glenn Dyer - Cadastral Engineer, Surveying, Map Making (East Base) 
- Carl Eklund - Ornithologist (East Base)
- Felix L. Ferranto - Radio operator (US Marine)
- Roy Fitzsimmons, Magnetologist and Geophysicist
- George W. Gibbs, Jr., USN - Officer's Cook 3rd Class (West Base)
- Joseph D. Healy - Dog Driver (East Base) 
- Archie Hill - Cook (East Base) 
- Donald Hilton - Assistant Surveyor - Dog Driver (East Base) 
- Paul Knowles - Geologist (East Base) 
- Elmer Lamplugh - Chief Radioman (East Base) 
- Lester Lehrke, USN - Boatswain's Mate First Class, Sailmaker (East Base) 
- Anthony Morency - Tank and Tractor Driver (East Base) 
- Lytton Musselman - Dog Driver, Radioman (East Base) 
- Howard Odom - Assistant Radioman (East Base) 
- Robert Palmer - Assistant to Meteorologist, Supply Officer (East Base) 
- Charles F. Passel
- Earle Perce - Co-pilot, Radioman (East Base) 
- William Pullen, USN - Aviation Machinist Mate (East Base) 
- Harrison Holt Richardson - Dog Team Driver and Meteorological Observer 
- Finn Ronne - Chief of Staff, Transportation Engineer (East Base)
- Charles Sharbonneau - Carpenter (East Base) 
- Lewis Sims - Base Doctor (East Base) 
- Paul Siple
- Ashley Snow, Jr. - Chief Pilot (East Base) 
- Clarence Steele - Tank and Tractor Driver (East Base) 
- ^ "Biography of Richard Black". Retrieved January 31, 2013.
- ^ "Biography of Herwil Bryant". Retrieved January 31, 2013. Also "Herwil McClure Bryant Field Book, 1940-1941". Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved January 31, 2013. The SI reference features details from his participation in the expedition including lichen and moss species.
- ^ "Biography of Arthur J. Carroll". Retrieved January 31, 2013.
- ^ "Biography of Zadik Collier". Retrieved January 31, 2013.
- ^ U.S. Department of the Interior Museum
- ^ "Biography of Harry Darlington III". Retrieved January 31, 2013.
- ^ "Biography of Herbert Dorsey". Retrieved January 31, 2013.
- ^ "Biography of J. Glenn Dyer". Retrieved January 31, 2013.
- ^ Rejcek, Peter (October 1, 2010). "Making History, Gibbs first person of African descent to set foot on Antarctic continent". The Antarctic Sun.
- ^ "Biography of Joseph Healy". Retrieved January 31, 2013.
- ^ "Biography of Archie Hill]". Retrieved January 31, 2013.
- ^ "Biography of Donald Hilton". Retrieved January 31, 2013.
- ^ "Biography of Paul Knowles". Retrieved January 31, 2013.
- ^ "Biography of Elmer Lamplugh]". Retrieved January 31, 2013.
- ^ "Biography of Lester Lehrke". Retrieved January 31, 2013.
- ^ "Biography of Anthony Morency". Retrieved January 31, 2013.
- ^ "Biography of Lytton Musselman". Retrieved January 31, 2013.
- ^ "Biography of Howard Odom". Retrieved January 31, 2013.
- ^ "Biography of Robert Palmer". Retrieved January 31, 2013.
- ^ "Biography of Earle Perce". Retrieved January 31, 2013.
- ^ "Biography of William Pullen". Retrieved January 31, 2013.
- ^ Ravo, Nick (1999-08-01). "Harrison Richardson, 80, Joined Byrd's Expedition to Antarctica". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-04-13.
- ^ "Biography of Charles Sharbonneau". Retrieved January 31, 2013.
- ^ "Biography of Lewis Sims". Retrieved January 31, 2013.
- ^ "Biography of Ashley Snow, Jr". Retrieved January 31, 2013.
- ^ "Biography of Clarence Steele". Retrieved January 31, 2013.
- Byrd, Richard E. (1935). Discovery, the Story of the Second Byrd Antarctic Expedition. G.P. Putnam's Sons.
- Bertrand, Kenneth J. (1971). Americans in Antarctica 1775-1948. New York: American Geographical Society.
- Siple, Dr. Paul (1959). 90° South — The Story Of The American South Pole Conquest. G. P. Putnam's Sons.
- Antarctica; the Extraordinary History of Man's Conquest of the Frozen Continent, second edition. Reader's Digest.
- Headland, Robert K. (1990). Chronological List of Antarctic Expeditions and Related Historical Events. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-30903-4.
- Passel, Charles F. (1995). Ice: The Antarctic Diary of Charles F. Passel. Lubbock: Texas Tech University Press. ISBN 978-0896723474.