By Senior Airman James Sparks
821st Air Base Group
THULE AIR BASE, Greenland — Thule Air Base celebrated Armed Forces Day March 30-31 by inviting native Greenlandic residents to the base, some of whom traveled up to three days across the extremely cold environment by dog sled to attend the celebration.
Most of the activities took place on the frozen Arctic Ocean and included a modified ice hockey match and a dog sled race sponsored by Thule’s Operation Julemand private organization. The events concluded with a native craft sale provided by Greenlandic villagers.
While many of the hunters come to Thule each year for the celebration, it was a unique opportunity for the Airmen assigned to the Department of Defense’s northernmost and most remote installation to have such an experience. Thule Air Base is one of six installations operated by the 21st Space Wing and is located 750 miles north of the Arctic Circle.
These events also allowed the Airmen to learn about the local culture as well as share a special Easter weekend with their Arctic neighbors.
“New friendships, friendly competition and once-in-a-lifetime experiences were shared by everyone,” said Tech. Sgt. Michael Skonetski, the 2013 Armed Forces Day coordinator. “This event, and ones like it, provide an opportunity for the local and military communities to come together, work together and build relationships that will last a lifetime. It was an honor to be involved.”
Every event at Thule AB is undertaken with careful planning and involvement because of its unusual environment and location. The 2013 Armed Forces Day event was no exception.
The Armed Forces Day celebration is particularly special to Thule because it brings three distinct cultures from Greenland, Denmark and the United States together for one great event. Learning more about the Arctic natives and our Danish brothers and sisters has become a huge morale and cultural relations boost for all of “Team Thule.”
“It showed me how important it is to be a part of something bigger and how a small community could be so family-oriented,” said Staff Sgt. Theodore Burley, 2013 Armed Forces Day assistant coordinator. “It opened my eyes on another’s culture and the importance of the relationship between the U.S. armed forces, its host nations, and all the many working pieces it takes to maintain such a strong bond.”