Col. Norman Vaughan, Senior OAE aboard........
Greetings from Alaska and the senior living OAE. This is your friend
and compatriot of the ice, Norman D. Vaughan. I am the sole surviving
member of the First Byrd Antarctic Expedition and I am proud to be able
to be one of you and to be able to live into the next milenium.
God willing, my wife Carolyn and I , expect to return to Antarctica in a few years to summit Mt. Vaughan, named for me by the greatest of us, Admiral Richard Byrd. I hope to be sledded up to the top by some of Americas greatest climbers to celebrate my 100th birthday. You are all invited to come along.
My email internet access is not set up, so I thank fellow Iditarod musher
Fred Agree of Trapper Creek for forwarding this message.
My mailing address is:
Col Norman D. Vaughan
3807 Iowa Drive
Anchorage, Alaska 99517
God bless you all
"Only the bold, brave the cold"
He deserves real serious recognition. You have heard of him,
but just don't make the connection. I know you have heard his name because
Brian Shoemaker spoke about Norman Vaughan's exploits at Gus Shinn's
Norman is also a lifetime honorary member of the American Polar Society. For a start this came from my personal OAE list. Fred Agree is a friend of mine and a dog team driver, trainer and outfitter in Alaska and has his own web page. He was also on the ice back in 79 when Air New Zealand 901 crashed on Mount Erebus.
Norman Vaughan is who he claims to be. A dog driver for Byrd during the 1st BAE and much more. Norman was also involved in the rescue of the pilots of several US planes that crashed in Greenland in WW2. It was either a squadron of 7 P-38s and 2 B-17s, or a B-29. I think it was the P-38s. The Army used Norman's expertise in finding the crash site and getting the pilots out. In recent times the P-38s were dug up and brought back to the states by some salvage company or preservation group. Over the years they had became buried very, very deep in the icecap. I don't know if Norman was involved in the aircraft recovery phase or not but Fred Agree was. The B-29 crash was at a different location and a different date and had nothing to do with the P-38 crash. I am only mentioning it here in the event that Norman may have also been involved in the rescue of the B-29 crew or the recovery of the aircraft. When the B-29 was eventually dug up it was actually made flight worthy and they were going to fly it out of the crash/recovery site, but it caught fire and burned on takeoff. Then he is famous for racing the Iditarod dog races. I think Norman has won it several times. You may have seen him on the Discovery Channel when he went to the ice several years ago to climb Mount Vaughan. He had to get special permission to take a team of dogs because it was after the banning of all dogs in Antarctica. On his first attempt to reach his jumping off place in the Patriot Hills the aircraft landed seven miles short of the runway killing dogs and men and seriously injuring others. They had to be evacuated back to Punta Arenas and spent some time outfitting for another attempt and this time they made it and Norman climbed his mountain which was all documented in the Discovery program.
Norman has written two books about the ice:
WITH BYRD AT THE BOTTOM OF THE WORLD, and MY LIFE OF ADVENTURE. The second book being an autobiography about all aspects of his life. If you are interested in buying either of these books they are available at Amazon books. Just access Amazon through my web page please.
Norman Vaughan is a living legend, a real OAE and an inspiration to us wannabees and he is one of my heroes. In his message he has addressed us as fellow OAEs. However, in his presence I would not be so pretentious as to call myself an OAE.
Norman's message was correct. He is the Oldest OAE having traveled south with Admiral Byrd in 1928.
Norman, Larry Gould and others took a dog sled trip to the Trans Antarctic Mountains in 1929 while Admiral Byrd and others flew to the South Pole.
Their trip was over 1500 miles and they explored an immense amount of territory, but they never reached the pole. Byrd was the first to fly over the South Pole. The first Americans to stand at the South Pole were a group flown in by VX-6 in a plane flown by Gus Shinn. The group included Admiral George Dufek who was the first to step off of the plane and technically was the first American there.
For you OAE's and FNGs. Norman is for real. He was In Antarctica before any of us were born. He has done some great things including traveling to Mount Vaughan about six years ago and climbing it at age 89. The Mountain was named for Norman by Admiral Byrd in 1929. Norman was the first to reach its summit. There is a video out of him hiking up the slope - Email Norman if you want a copy.
He is a great man and I do not doubt that he will be atop his mountain again when he is 100.
If you have a chance to hear him speak - don't pass it up. He's great.
Subject: Re: The Name Game
Since posting the message for Colonel Vaughan, I have received several messages asking me if my posting were, indeed, a hoax. I assure you it is not, although it does seem so.
The OAE Onelist has been joined by Norman Dane Vaughan, one of the "three Musketeers" who went as dog drivers to the South with Admiral Byrd in 1929. Norman is in his 96th year,(or so), and lives part of the year in my village, Trapper Creek, at the base of Mt McKinley in the Alaska Range.
Fred Agree Trapper Creek Alaska
I have recently discovered your great site and thought I might add a bit to your knowledge, particularly with regards to Norman Vaughan. You seemed a bit confused about what kind of planes he "rescued" in Greenland. The story is deeper than that.
On July 15, 1942, eight planes from what was known as Operation Bolero made a forced landing on the Greenland ice sheet. There were two B-17s and six P-38s. Aside from the fact that they did not crash, and were only forced down when they attempted to backtrack from their original destination of Iceland, they intentionally landed on the ice shelf. The official designation of the units were Tomcat Yellow, and Tomcat Green, and each Unit consisted of one B-17 and 4 P-38s. The P-38s were under the command of Capt. Brad McMannus, who's original plan was to land on the iceshelf and have the B-17s transport fuel to them, then relaunch and resume their trip.
All of this was brought about by a decoding error, when the B-17s were issued the wrong decoding cards, and interpretted the weather to be favorable, which was the exact opposite of actual conditions. Capt. Brad McMannus was the only one to "crash land" because he attempted the first landing with a "wheels down" landing. The wheels bogged down and the plane flipped and caught on fire, but he managed to climb out. All other planes landed safely with a "wheels up" landing that damaged the propellers on all the P-38s except the last two to land. Then the B-17s were brought in. Norman Vaughan was called upon for rescue advice and he recommended sending in Freddie Crockett (also on Byrd's Little America Expedition) and dog sleds to resuce the 25 men. Crockett was successful.
However, one of the most closely guarded secrets of WWII was on the verge of falling into enemy hands because of this event. The two B-17s were both equipped with the highly secret Norden Bomb Sight. One bombadier carried out his orders and destroyed the precious bomb sight, but the other "forgot". Vaughan and the Navy's best skier, Max Demerest, were sent in on a "mission impossible" secret mission to get the bomb sight before the Germans did, by retreiving it if possible, and if not, to destroy it. The only secret that the US had that was more closely guarded than this bomb sight was the A Bomb. Terrible weather forced an extension in the travel time to and from the site of the planes. Max was sent back to rendevous with the coast guard vessel and persuade them to wait and return in a few days, while Norm went on ahead. He mushed his dogs to the point of exhaustion for both himself and them, nearly exhausted he returned to the point of pick up, met Max part of the way back and finally completed his mission. The day after returning the bomb site it was installed and on its way to Iceland aboard another airplane.
Finally in September 1988 United Technologies Norden Systems invited Norm to Atlanta to receive a miniature Norden Bomb Site and the only recognition he ever received for this task.
I just thought you might like to know these interesting facts, and perhaps correct some of the inaccuracies in your salute to Norm.
Date: Sun Jul 21, 2002 2:41 pm
Subject: Norman Vaughan Hospitalized
I just received the following from Brian Shoemaker. I think the only thing not mentioned is that Norman is the sole survivor of the first Byrd Antarctic Expedition. Norman also was essential in the recovery of the 26 crewmembers of the six P-38s and two B-17s squadron that crashed in Greenland in 1942.
In a message dated 7/20/2002 11:16:53 PM Central Daylight
Time, shoemaker writes:
Below is a letter from Carolyn about the latest on Norman Vaughan our oldest member of the American Polar Society and one of our original members. his polar career began with the Grenfel Mission in Labrador in 1927 as a dog sled driver. It continued on through the 1929 BAE I Expedition and continued to 1996 when he traveled to Antarctica and climbed Mount Vaughan that was named for him over 70 years ago.
She would like emails sent to the address below - she will read them to Norm.
Spread the word.
There are a lot of you who are friends of Norman but live outside of Alaska and I thought you'd want to know that Norman has now been in the hospital for 10 weeks. His big heart has gotten too big and now weak. He has end stage heart disease that is now affecting his liver and kidneys. The ideal ending would have been for him to go while on the back of a dog team on the Serum Run. But I guess we don't get to choose. Instead he is in a huge hospital room filled with pictures and a grand view of the Chugach Mountains. And friends pour in and share great stories although this is now beginning to tire him.
His spirits are great and mind sharp as ever. Just very, very tired. Pooped out. Not in a lot of pain, but uncomfortable. Like an old dog.
But he did perk up when I asked if he'd like to get a pass and go up to the cabin to see the fireweed. His favorite. I'm going to get a motorhome so he can lie down and off we'll go ( with a lot of help) next weekend. Even though he is very tired, it will give him a lot of pleasure.
And, you'll enjoy this - at one point he asked me if we ever have to have life support whether we would want it pulled at some point. I thought he said that he would want life support pulled, but then it seemed like he contradicted himself. He said, " Oh, no, I want life support, but I'd want it pulled when I get to be old and tottering."
The doctors today told him that there was nothing more they can do for him, but that he can have total control of taking pain meds as much as he wants to make him comfortable. And when folks come by or call, he asks me to tell them the "good" news!. Boy, talk about finding the positive in everything!! He doesn't talk about death. His indominable spirit thinks that he can overcome. After all, he doesn't believe in the word "no".
I live at the hospital now. The sofa in his room is my pull-out bed at night and my office chair during the day. My mobile office is my laptop on a tray table. I don't have a printer, but i can certainly read him any emails that are sent.
We take things a day at a time. Life, the way it should be, right?