By Lt. Col. Marc Peterson
821st Air Base Group deputy commander
THULE AIR BASE, Greenland — With the storm season of Greenland drawing near, the men and women at Thule Air Base, Greenland, took the time to deliver an early Christmas present.
A combined team of U.S. Air Force Airmen, Greenland contractors and Danish Navy personnel recently paid a visit to the village of Qeqertat, Greenland, as part of Operation Julemand.
Operation Julemand is an annual tradition at Thule. Throughout the year, funds are raised for projects to brighten the lives of children in several, nearby villages.
This year, following several survey and sight preparation trips, the team installed a new playground complete with tire swings, a slide and a see-saw for the children of Qeqertat, and culminated the project with a ribbon cutting ceremony Sept. 9.
In addition, the team delivered scores of winter coats and hats previously collected by the Thule chapel to the people living in the small village.
The playground was built at the end of the construction season because the below-freezing temperatures of December make construction virtually impossible. Now the children of Qeqertat can enjoy another set of healthy activities.
As part of the most capable Air Force on earth, the men and women of Thule Air Base know a lot about teamwork and partnership. A positive impact on the local villages of the Arctic is only possible through this very same type of teamwork. U.S. Air Force personnel, along with their Danish and Greenlandic contractor support, raised the necessary money and donations required to purchase the playground, and the Danish Navy provided transportation and labor to actually construct the playground in only a few days.
“It was great to see the children enjoying the playground equipment and realizing that all the teamwork it took to make this project a reality was worth it,” said Staff Sgt. Lindsay Seay, 821st Air Base Group knowledge operations manager.
The members of the U.S. and Danish military experienced the rich culture of native Greenland, while the villagers were exposed to the warm and giving nature of their protectors.
The multicultural exchange demonstrates the partnerships required for life 750 miles north of the Arctic Circle.
“This trip provided me with great insight into life in Greenland,” said Chaplain (Capt.) Wade Matuska. “I know we were here to present gifts, but we received much in return.”
(Thule Air Base, Greenland, is one of the six installations operated by the 21st Space Wing.)