By Sean Casteel
*** Admiral Richard E. Byrd is thought of as an iconic American hero. But what was he concealing from the public, and why did he swear to secrecy a handpicked group from among the crews that accompanied him on his polar expeditions?
*** In 1938, the Nazis asked Byrd to join their expedition to the North Pole, which the admiral quite naturally declined. The Nazis went there without him, seeking to make contact with a hidden race of supermen by finding a doorway into the Hollow Earth that was believed to exist in the icy northern wastelands. Did the Nazis succeed in making that contact? Did they get alien assistance in building their own disc-shaped aircraft?
*** The admiral’s cousin, David Harold Byrd, was an oil-rich financier from Texas who funded some of Admiral Byrd’s earlier polar expeditions. By virtue of his wealth, Harold Byrd was part of the inner circle of the wealthy and powerful in Texas, which included Lyndon Johnson and John Connelly. Did the secret cabal somehow have a hand in the assassination of John F. Kennedy? Was the conspiracy of murder birthed in a Houston hotel room?
*** There is said to be a world beneath our feet, a civilization located at the innermost core of our planet. Some call it the Hollow Earth or the Inner Earth. It has been described as a virtual paradise by some and a horrifying, hellish nightmare by others. Doorways into this mystery realm have been sought for centuries, but has the actual opening been photographed from space by our modern day satellites?
TO many in the UFO and conspiracy theory communities, Admiral Richard E. Byrd is not merely some benign fatherly figure smiling at us from the pages of 20th century history. While Byrd is commonly thought of as a national hero and a courageous explorer of the forbidding wastelands of the Polar Regions, those who look a little deeper soon discover a disturbing darkness and subterfuge that entangles the American icon in many a wicked web.
The history of Byrd’s covert “dance with the demons” is covered most thoroughly in a 2017 book issued by Global Communications/Conspiracy Journal, Timothy Green Beckley’s publishing house. The book is called “Secret Exploits of Admiral Richard E. Byrd,” and is subtitled “The Hollow Earth, Nazi Occultism, Secret Societies and the JFK Assassination.” Beckley uses his usual “kitchen sink” method, employing several writers who attack the various subjects from a great many angles.
THE STORY OF BYRD AS AN EXPLORER BEGINS
In the interest of disclosure, I also contributed a few chapters to “Secret Exploits of Admiral Richard E. Byrd,” including a Q and A with Tim R. Swartz, Beckley’s resident expert on all things Byrd.
“Before he was Admiral Byrd,” Swartz told me, “he was Richard Evelyn Byrd, Jr. and he was born in 1888. Byrd graduated from the Naval Academy in 1912 and was commissioned an Ensign in the U.S. Navy. He volunteered to become a naval aviator.”
Along with a keen interest in flying, Byrd also had a fascination with exploration. By the time he came of age, there was little new left in the world to explore except the Polar Regions. Expeditions had been traveling to the areas at the North and South Poles since the 19th century, but Byrd believed he could do a more complete job of exploring there, especially with the added advantage of aircraft that would give his team the ability to view the icy regions from the sky.
“His first trip was in 1926,” Swartz said, “when, along with a pilot named Floyd Bennett, he attempted to fly over the North Pole in a tri-motor monoplane. It lasted about fourteen to fifteen hours, and they claimed to have reached the North Pole, covering a distance of about 1,500 miles. They encircled it and then managed to make it back safely. When he returned to the U.S., he was a national hero. Congress even passed a special act that promoted him to the rank of commander and awarded him the National Medal of Honor. From that point on, to the U.S., Byrd could do no wrong.”
In 1938, Byrd visited Nazi Germany. The Nazis were intent on exploring the Arctic themselves and invited Byrd to participate in their expedition. Times being what they were politically, Byrd quite naturally declined. So the Nazis went to the North Pole without him and probably established several bases in the region, beginning then and lasting through the duration of World War II, according to Swartz.
THE MYSTERY OF ‘HIGHJUMP,’ THE ABORTED MISSION
In 1946, in postwar America, Operation Highjump was conceived. Intended to be an exploratory visit of Antarctica, the huge number of ships, helicopters and other aircraft, along with 4,000 personnel, that were mustered for the project continues to arouse suspicion. Although the expedition was originally planned to last for six months, the mission was called off after only three weeks, with the team claiming they had done all the exploring necessary.
“Some people have speculated,” Swartz said, “that they went there in search of a secret Nazi base hidden somewhere along the coast of Antarctica. At the end of World War II, there were a number of German U-boats that had left the Canary Islands carrying personnel, equipment, supplies and things like that. They would later surrender in Argentina but without all the personnel and equipment on board. Now, one of the U-boat captains said that they had dropped off their people, equipment, etc. at a secret base in Antarctica. And declassified documents show that this could be one of the reasons why this expedition Operation Highjump had been established, to find out just what was going on in Antarctica.”
Swartz said that the Nazis had become interested in places like Antarctica because Hitler believed there might be an entrance there that would lead into the Hollow Earth. According to the occult lore that Hitler subscribed to, the Hollow Earth was the home of the Root Race, the Aryan people, supermen that Hitler hoped would aid him in his dream of world conquest.
FREEMASONRY, SECRECY AND THE ‘LOYAL LEGION’
Writer Tim Cridland contributes some chapters to “Secret Exploits of Admiral Richard E. Byrd,” including a discussion of Byrd’s ties to Freemasonry and his reputation for secrecy.
“Richard Byrd was a Freemason,” Cridland writes, “having joined a Washington, D.C., lodge in 1921. It seems being members of secret societies – and the Freemasons in particular – was a ‘thing’ for explorers of the day. The mainly volunteer crew at Little America, the base camp for Byrd’s 1928 Antarctic expedition, were so unruly that Byrd formed a secret society within the group. Eleven of the 42 men at the base were Masons like Byrd. Byrd’s secret society, which he called the ‘Loyal Legion,’ was obviously based on the Masonic systems of initiation and confidentiality.”
Byrd, in order to protect himself from mutiny in Antarctica and to guard his reputation when he returned to the U.S., made the initiates swear to divulge to no one the existence of the Loyal Legion. They further had to swear that they would not try to learn the names of other members of the group. Most importantly, they swore to do whatever Byrd asked them to do and not to tell anyone that Byrd asked them to do it.
“If Byrd needed people around him that were loyal and able to keep secrets,” Cridland explains, “and he found Freemasonry to be a system that facilitated this, his future actions were congruous. On his next Antarctic expedition, which took place in 1934-35, 60 of the 82 members were Freemasons. He established the First Antarctic Lodge, number 777, in February of 1935.”
It does seem as though Byrd was stacking the deck by surrounding himself with like-minded Freemasons who were willing to keep his secrets both inside and outside the lodge. Just the sort of thing that conspiracy theorists, such as ourselves, tend to find significant.
IS THERE PHOTOGRAPHIC PROOF OF THE HOLLOW EARTH?
Cridland also contributes a chapter about the “Hole-at-the-Pole Theory,” the same allegedly supernatural portal that had sent the Nazis scurrying to find a way into the Hollow Earth.
“The question most often asked by the uninitiated,” Cridland writes, “when discussing the Hollow Earth theory: ‘If there are holes at the poles, why aren’t there any satellite photos of them?’ The usual response is to pull out the photos uncovered by Ray Palmer in the June 1970 issue of ‘Flying Saucers Magazine.’ Palmer, the man that some claim was responsible for starting the public’s obsession with flying saucers, had started the modern-day Hollow Earth movement in an earlier issue of the magazine.
“Palmer, upon finding the photo taken by the ESSA-7 satellite on November 23, 1968, declared ‘The North Pole photo, lacking clouds in the polar area, therefore reveals the surface of the planet. Although surrounding the polar area, and north of such areas as the North American continent and Greenland and the Asian continent, we can see the ice fields of the eight-foot thick ice. But in the photo, we do not see any ice fields in a large circular area directly at the geographic pole. Instead, we see – THE HOLE!’”
But Palmer’s claims have been impossible to verify with follow-up photos. Cridland says that is likely because there have been a scant few other photos that claimed to show a polar void, and that even fewer are taken from a polar-orbiting satellite. Which makes photos relevant to this discussion hard to find. Later photos, which captured images using the relatively new capability of infrared satellite photography and taken long after Palmer’s enthusing over the 1968 satellite photo, did not prove the existence of the hole either. The expected heat signature of the supposed hole simply wasn’t there.
Cridland says this does not mean we should rule out the possibility of a Hollow Earth, however, since we are dealing with government photos that may have been doctored before being released to the public. We are already aware of a longstanding cover-up by the government as regards UFOs and the “aliens” who occupy them, so it requires no great leap of faith to believe this kind of secrecy may apply to the Hollow Earth as well.
BYRD’S COUSIN AND THE HOUSTON HOTEL ROOM CONSPIRACY
Speaking of government cover-ups, Cridland also contributes a chapter to “Secret Exploits of Admiral Richard E. Byrd” that closely examines the relationship between the admiral and his cousin as well as a strange connection to the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
“Byrd’s cousin, David Harold Byrd,” Cridland writes, “was instrumental in funding Byrd’s polar expeditions before the government took over. Harold Byrd promoted the expeditions quite literally like carnival attractions, having a replica of the Antarctic base Little America set up at the 1936 Texas Centennial Exposition. Richard Byrd showed his appreciation by naming an Antarctic mountain range after his cousin and benefactor.
“Harold Byrd’s oil wealth,” Cridland continues, “granted him entry into the inner circle of Texas power. He was a member of the 8F group, an elite organization named after the room number of the Lamar Hotel in Houston where they held meetings. The group of predominately right-wing business men had Lyndon Johnson and John Connelly in its ranks. 8F also coordinated political activities with other Southern right-wing politicians and businessmen, including Billie Sol Estes and Clint Murchison. These are names that are very familiar to researchers who have investigated Lyndon Johnson’s connections to the JFK assassination.”
Cridland sketches in further damning details, such as the fact that Harold Byrd was the owner of the Texas School Book Depository, the building that Lee Harvey Oswald worked at and the alleged location of the fatal shots. Harold Byrd bought the building in 1939. When he returned from a suspiciously-timed, two-month African safari in January of 1964, Harold Byrd had the window that Oswald allegedly fired from – the window of the sniper’s nest – removed and kept it as a souvenir.
“He morbidly decorated the bottom half of the window with newspaper clippings of the assassination,” Cridland writes, “and postcard pictures of Kennedy, Dealey Plaza and his Book Depository. He framed it and put it in the banquet room of his mansion, where it remained until the day he died in 1986.”
It is as though Harold Byrd took no small amount of covert pride in the fact that he was part of both the successful presidential assassination and the subsequent – and quite nearly impenetrable – cover-up. While there is no obvious direct link between the Admiral himself and the purported Texas-based conspiracy, his blood relationship with his deep-pocketed cousin Harold should raise a few flags of interest. If the long and tangled thread of subterfuge and collusion that surrounds the JFK assassination is ever publicly exposed, will it be possible to follow the thread back to a Houston hotel room and the oil-rich David Harold Byrd?
MICAH HANKS ON THE NAZI CONNECTION
From the darkness surrounding Byrd, his cousin and the JFK assassination, we move along to what may be even darker terrain, as described by author and podcaster Micah Hanks.
“It’s one of the most famous conspiracies,” Hanks writes, “associated with the end of the Second World War: that a group of Nazis escaped to Antarctica, where they had a secret base established to aid in the furtherance of their top secret flying saucer development program. Such tales have been the stuff of legends for decades now, and the persistence of rumors like these offer an alternative to popular theories about alien visitors that remain a hallmark of modern UFO lore.”
Hanks refers to a 2006 discovery by Ohio State University scientists who claim to have located some kind of “gravitation anomaly” located below Wilkes Land, Antarctica. It was later speculated in the tabloid press that the anomaly could be the long-sought “secret Nazi UFO base” in question.
There is some legitimacy to this idea, according to Hanks, stemming from the fact that the Nazis did mount an expedition to the South Pole in 1938-39, though there is no proof they attempted to establish a more permanent stronghold there. Ironically, according to Hanks, the idea of Nazi UFOs in Antarctica has less to do with anything the Nazis actually did than with what Admiral Byrd himself said about it.
Hanks quotes from a 1947 interview with Byrd, published in a Chilean newspaper, thusly: “The admiral stated that he didn’t want to frighten anyone unduly but that it was a bitter reality that, in case of a new war, the continental United States would be attacked by flying objects which could fly from pole to pole at incredible speeds.”
“As one can see,” Hanks continues, “such wording easily lends itself to the idea of a connection between the Nazi UFO mythos and something going on at the South Pole.”
Yet the answer is still not so simple, according to Hanks. But we’ll leave the rest of what he has to say to readers of “Secret Exploits of Admiral Richard E. Byrd,” who will no doubt approve Hanks’ thorough research and attempt to document the truth about a conspiracy theory that so far shows no sign of being abandoned.
THE TIP OF THE PROVERBIAL ICEBERG
“Secret Exploits of Admiral Richard E. Byrd” also includes the contributions of other writers, like Dianne Robbins, Richard Toronto and Dr. Raymond Bernard.
Among the chapters I wrote myself is one about the legends of “Agharta,” a paradise located in the Hollow Earth that is lit by a wondrous internal sun and is sometimes visited by spiritual seekers of truth, like the reincarnated Buddhist monk, T. Lobsang Rampa. I also write about the Hollow Earth as described by writer Richard Shaver, who says the interior of our planet is a virtual infernal hell occupied by a demonic race he calls the “dero,” who use their ancient technology to wreak a continual evil havoc on us surface dwellers.
“Secret Exploits of Admiral Richard E. Byrd” runs that gamut between the extremes of heaven and hell even as it places the often secretive Admiral – and various related conspiracies and secret societies – firmly in the context of known American history. The obvious Polar Regions pun is this: We are only seeing the tip of a dark and mysterious iceberg so far and must wait to learn whatever truth is ultimately revealed about Byrd and the secrets he so closely guarded.
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