Arriving at the giant Thule Airbase was quite an experience for a country boy from Tennessee, and my trip there got a little more involved than it was supposed to. I was the only member of my unit on a C-54 that left Westover Airbase. We landed at Goosebay, Labrador in the evening to refuel the plane and ourselves. As we took off for Thule, one engine quit, and we had to return to Goosebay. On the return, I could see fire engines and ambulances racing along an adjacent runway and wondered how they could get to us if we crashed. After several months of clearing snow, there was a large mountain of the stuff between the runways. We landed smoothly, but I was stuck at Goosebay. Another member of my unit on a different plane told my commander that he saw me take off for Thule from Goosebay. My unit started checking for aircraft crashes. They couldn't figure out how I could have gone AWOL from Goosebay. My dufflebag someway got to Thule, but I was stuck in a transient officer's quarters where it seemed that everyone spoke French. I hitched a ride on another worn out C-54 (most of them used in that run had been used in the Berlin airlift) to Sondrestromfjord (WW II designation - Bluie West - 8, shortened to BW-8). The landing there in the dark and dense fog was pretty scary. It was even worse when I could see what we landed on the night before. I finally flew from there to Thule and passed through the headquarters building shown in he picture. This building is typical of the "reverse refrigerators" used for everything except warehouses. I didn't realize it then that the base had just been constructed. There are other Greenland sites on the web that give the history of Thule base, or if you are interested in seeing how it was built over the permafrost, go to www.militaryvideo.com and order a video on the construction (entitled "Operation Blue Jay) - approx. $20.00. Greenland is owned by Denmark, and the picture out on the edge of the icecap where lunch is being served is of the Danish commander of the Thule district at that time, Cmdr. Pedersen. For more information on Thule and Greenland check out the last page for some great links!
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