Eagle Scout Paul Siple’s Antarctic Adventures with Commander Byrd

By Patricia Potter Wilson and Roger Leslie
Vantage Press, 2008

Eagle on Ice, by authors Patricia Potter Wilson and Roger Leslie, recounts the story of 19-year-old Eagle Scout Paul Siple’s adventures with Commander Richard E. Byrd in Antarctica between the years 1928-1930. It is a captivating and straightforward narrative for teens and adult readers alike who are interested in this exciting period of Antarctic exploration. The photographs throughout the book, along with the strong research and interesting stories, help bring this remarkable period of history to life.


Growing up in Erie, Pennsylvania in the early 1900s, Paul Siple was an intelligent, self-motivated young man who thrived on learning about the world around him. He was fascinated by the adventures of his hero, world-famous explorer Commander Richard E. Byrd.


After Byrd’s successful flight over the North Pole in 1926, Byrd set out to be the first person to fly over the South Pole, via the Antarctic. When Byrd announced that one well-qualified Boy Scout would be chosen to accompany him on the expedition, he caught the attention of thousands of scouts who applied for the expedition. After a rigorous nationwide competition, Eagle Scout Paul Siple was among the finalists who met all of the criteria. Exhilarated by the challenge and inspired by the opportunity to work and meet with his hero, Paul could not believe his good fortune when he was the scout selected.


Little did Paul imagine at the beginning of the expedition that he would be one of the 41 of men (out of hundreds involved in the expedition) selected by Byrd to actually “winter-over” in Antarctica in 1928-1929. This Eagle Scout had many of the skills that the expedition needed. Paul was able to put his special scout knowledge into practice as taxidermist, naturalist, sled dog trainer, and sled driver. This is the amazing story of Paul and the other 41 men and more than 90 sled dogs who spent over a year in Antarctica living under the snow at “Little America,” an expedition camp with tunnels and houses buried below the surface. From this remote and barren site Commander Byrd made his historic flight over the South Pole.