Bernt Balchen – Colonel, United States Army Air Corps/Air Force

Famous as the first man to pilot a plane over the South Pole, he served with the British following the German conquest of his native Norway in World War II until September 1941 when he entered the United States Air Forces. For a time he commanded an airfield in Greenland and engaged in polar rescue operations, with most important work in connection with the Norwegian underground. He helped to set up and escape route between the United Kingdom and Sweden that enabled some 5,000 Norwegians and other people to flee the Nazis. He was also responsible for supplying underground in Scandinavia.

From November 1944 to August 1945 he commanded air operations that chased the Germans from Norway and Finlan. He was the Chief Pilot for Admiral Richard E. Byrd’s first flight over the South Pole in 1929.

He was born on October 23, 1899 and died on October 18, 1973 at Mount Kisko, New York. He was buried in Section 2 of Arlington National Cemetery.

His private memorial stone reads:


“Today goes fast and tomorrow is almost here. Maybe I have helped a little in the change. So I go on to the next adventure looking to the future but always remembering my teammates and the lonely places I have seen that no other man saw before.”



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