Translate this web site to a different language.
Winter. When the night never ends . . .
I can't say that I enjoyed the winter season much. Here is a noon time snapshot of our Christmas "tree" in front of the base headquarters. Since the tallest tree in this area is about knee high, this "tree" was made from welded iron pipes. It officially marked the beginning of our dark season from November 22 to February 10. Our tree stayed lit all during that period and provided a bright spot on the base and some emotional warmth.
We still operated on a daytime 8 to 5 schedule but it really didn't make much difference. It always looked like midnight -- and I was always sleepy during the winter.
When the personnel replacement plane landed each week, the people arriving were shocked to find out that they had not landed at 2 a.m. in the morning. It was really 2 p.m., the temperature periodically was -30 F (-34 C.)., and both the temperature and the sun would not be coming up for months!
Once a week a C130 aircraft came from the U.S. with fresh vegetables and salad greens, the latest movies, and magazines. Even in the dark of winter we had a big and beautiful salad bar in the dining hall every day. The Danish cooks were excellent and took pride in their work. Good meals were one of the biggest morale boosters we had, as we lived and worked in the gloom of total darkness and sub-zero temperatures.
It really wasn't too bad of a life, if you made the most of it. We had well equipped hobby shops, clubs, a gym, and a general merchandise store. Shown at the right is our dinning room that served excellent food by the Danish staff. However, the milk was reconstituted from powdered milk and was not very good. I became a coffee drinker instead.
On the base there were approximately 60 U.S. military officers, 300 enlisted men, and 2000 Danish civilian workers. There was plenty of routine work that had to be done. After the routine duties were completed, there were many interesting things to do indoors and keep busy with until the sun started coming up in February!
My room was private, warm, and quiet. However, I spent very little time in it because there were so many exciting and interesting things do other places. The buildings were built to withstand extremely high winds and sub zero temperatures so I could never estimate what the weather was like outside. But that wasn't really important because it was always cold and we always dressed for the worst --which was often the case.
There were even college courses conducted on the base. The University of Maryland sent instructors to Thule Air Base for several months at a time. I wonder if that was used as a "threat" to keep the instructors motivated on the main campus down in Maryland?
© 2007 Larry Rodrigues. All rights reserved.