My Life of Adventure
On December 16, 1994, three days shy of his eighty-ninth birthday, Norman D. Vaughan
fulfilled a life-long dream. He climbed Mount Vaughan, a 10,300-foot Antarctic peak
named in his honor by Admiral Richard Evelyn Byrd. It was his latest adventure in a
life dedicated to doing things that other people only dream of doing. In this book,
Vaughan looks back on that life, recalling the majestic highs and unimaginable lows
that he has experienced through the better part of the twentieth century.
What a life it is.
Born in 1905, when Theodore Roosevelt was president and polar expedition was in its
heyday, Norman Vaughan was weaned on tales of Robert Peary, Roald Amundsen, and Sir
Robert Falcon Scott. In 1925, he left Harvard to join one of his heroes, Sir Wilfred
Grenfell, in Newfoundland, bringing medical supplies by dog sled to isolated villages.
He left school again three years later to go to Antarctica with Admiral Byrd. His
experience driving dog teams through the vast white wilderness of the seventh
continent would stay with him for the rest of his life.
Not for Norman Vaughan the settled life of a corporate executive. As soon as the United
States entered World War II, he signed up for Army search-and-rescue operations: training
men and dogs for daring rescues ... saving the fighter pilots and the bombardiers of the
Lost Squadron in Greenland ... returning solo to the crashed planes to salvage a top-secret
bomb sight under enemy eyes ... persuading top brass to risk a brilliant scheme to evacuate
wounded soldiers by dog sled from the Battle of the Bulge ...
His military service over, Vaughan still craved adventure - and he found it. When his
business collapsed and his marriage shattered, he went with empty pockets to Alaska and
made a new start: shoveling snow for food ... building a dog team from scratch ... running the
long-distance Iditarod sled dog race, not once or twice but thirteen times ... crashing
President Carter's presidential parade ... teaching Pope John Paul II how to mush ... traveling
to Greenland to salvage the Lost Squadron planes from their prison of ice ...
Through it all Vaughan dreamed of one day returning to Antarctica to climb his mountain.
In December 1994, after years of preparation and financial wrangling and a near-disastrous
plane crash, he made that dream a reality, adding another grand accomplishment to his
amazing life of adventure. The maxim he follows is simple: "If you live young, you stay
Norman Vaughan and his wife, Carolyn, live in Eagle River, Alaska. Cecil B. Murphey, a
writer, lives in Atlanta. He and Vaughan also wrote With Byrd at the Bottom of the World.
Read a preview of "With Byrd at the Bottom of the World: The South Pole Expedition of 1928-1930"