Here is a sign in both Danish and English near a barracks telling everyone to "Keep Off the Grass". Grass was rather scarce, and this patch was prized as much as a park.
This little pine tree shown below is not typical for this region. In fact, this tree was the entire Thule "Forest" and was brought in from southern Greenland by a C-54 flight engineer. It is the tallest tree for hundreds of miles around. The chain is to keep it from being stolen. When guys get bored, they do mischievous things!
At most other USAF bases around the world, one does not see military vehicles at the base theater, as shown below. Thule is different.
If someone had a job in which he was assigned a vehicle to perform the job, then that vehicle was used for all his personal transportation, too. If a person was not assigned a vehicle, he was required to call a taxi for transportation when going anywhere more than one block. (Above there is a taxi dropping off a rider in front of the theater.)
There were Danish drivers in crew cap pickup trucks at various places around the base waiting for a radio call to transport people, often only for two blocks. This was for safety reasons because of the extreme cold and sudden wind. So unlike any other military base, it was strange to see all types of government vehicles used for personal transportation as well as very excellent taxi service to take anyone to the movie, club, dining hall or anywhere desired --of course for free in a government vehicle.
Vehicles were extremely important and had to be constantly protected from freezing. If they were parked and turned off, they had to be plugged into an 110-volt electrical outlet that operated heaters on the engine oil, transmission, and battery. These vehicles in this snapshot are all plugged in outside my barracks. If it was necessary to park somewhere without an electrical plug, then the engine had to remain running to keep from freezing.
The brown Chevrolet sedan on this end of the row was a topic of military humor. Here is the story: On most USAF bases there is an Office of Special Investigations (OSI). The people assigned to the OSI wear civilian clothes and drive an unmarked civilian car, so they are not noticed as they blend in with the many other civilian cars on the base. What is funny here at Thule, is that this brown OSI car stood out immediately everywhere it went because nearly every other vehicle at Thule was USAF blue!
The winds could roar down off the ice cap at any time --and often did. There was very little real snow fall at Thule, but the winds off the ice cap generally brought ice crystals that stacked up on vertical objects. This is a road-side marker with ice crystals on it from a pounding wind.
This bridge below had a sign (blue, right side)that once was obviously on a much larger and better-known bridge. The sign read: "Delaware Memorial Bridge". (Click image to see sign.)
On the other end of the bridge was a sign: "No Fishing Crabbing from Bridge".
This photo below was taken at the top of Mt. Dundas on a summer "night".
There are many pictures of Mt Dundas taken from the air base side of the Thule Harbor. Although Mt. Dundas was officially "off limits" to base personnel, some of us with vehicles drove over North Mountain road to Dundas Village during the spring or summer months when it was light, and no one was watching us around midnight. It was a steep climb up Mt. Dundas but someone had thoughtfully installed a cable at the steepest part at the top. The trail was well worn, and it was evident many people had been there before us.
Below is a picture of an igloo that a friend and I made for fun. It was interesting how easy it is to saw out the blocks of snow and stack them in place. This was just a fun project.
Inside the igloo the temperature was considerably less cold out of the wind with a candle for some light and a little warmth. It was furnished with a table and chair, and the drinks were plenty cold.
The local Inuits did not build igloos, but they did make hunting huts for temporary shelter like this one shown below. It is made of layers of sod dug from the nearby soil -- no doubt dug in summer when the soil was not frozen. This sod hut was at the base of Mt Dundas near the village of Dundas across the Thule Harbor from the air base.
This picture below was taken inside a hangar on Armed Forces Day 1968. I'm proud of this project I was assigned to do by my CO. The purpose was to show all the civilians and other base people what we were doing as the base communications squadron. Now this makes more sense in the U.S., but not so much at Thule. Anyway, this is the results of my creativity and direction, plus the fantastic spirit and efforts of all the squadron sections.
"1983 COMMUNICATIONS SQUADRON" "PROVIDING THE REINS OF COMMAND AND SERVICE TO YOU"
Amazingly both the military guys and the civilian workers on the base found our display very enlightening about what we really did at Thule. Most of our facilities were normally secured areas behind fences and locked doors. We received many supportive and admirable comments from our surprising number of visitors that day! And afterward, all the plywood was returned to base supply with no nail holes.
This picture below was a surprise when I developed the film, as I did not see the animal when I was out in the bright sun taking pictures. I guess it was an arctic hare that mutated from the high powered BEMEWS radar up on the top rim of this fjord. (Wink!)
This poem below was picked up at Thule by Bernard Reiner who spent four months at Thule from May to Sept 1953 as a member of the U.S. Army Transportation Arctic Group (TRARG). Here is what Bernard passed on to me in 2003: "A poem some unknown author wrote about that experience remains fresh in my mind 50 years later."
Let us worry not unduly,
nor dread the time you spend in Thule.
Be contented as you should,
you've never had it quite so good.
© Copyright 1999, revised 2014 by Lawrence Rodrigues
All rights reserved worldwide.