By Senior Airman Tiffany DeNault
21st Space Wing Public Affairs
THULE AIR BASE, Greenland — Approximately 750 miles north of the Arctic Circle and 946 miles from the North Pole, with temperatures typically ranging from 30 to 40 degrees below zero in the winter to 30 to 40 degrees in the summer, lies Thule Air Base.
Upon arrival and getting hit in the face with the frigid, cold air, a welcoming committee made up of senior leadership is on the flightline waiting to shake your hand and welcome you to Thule.
The area began as a Danish-American radio and weather station in 1946. Then in 1951 it became the Thule Defense Area under Operation Blue Jay. Today, Thule Air Base supports the missile warning and space surveillance and satellite command and control operations missions. With a population of approximately 700 people including U.S., Canadian, Danish and Greenlandic personnel, the base provides security, communications, civil engineering, personnel, services, logistics and medical support.
In addition to support and sustainment of the 12th Space Warning Squadron and the 23rd Space Operations Squadron Detachment 1, Thule supports Danish and Canadian resupply missions as well as scientific research missions. The Canadian resupply mission, Operation BOXTOP I (spring) and II (fall), Operation NORTHERN FALCON, a Danish resupply mission, and the Greenland Inland Transfer, where the National Science Foundation drives supplies inland in large tractors every two to three years, are example of these missions.
“Operating a base in an arctic environment comes with many challenges including extremely cold temperatures and daylight extremes from 24 hours of daylight for several months to 24 hours of darkness for several months,” said Col. Todd Diel, 821st Air Base Group commander. “In addition to the environmental extremes, we also receive most of our supplies through the seaport, which is frozen over nine months out of the year, which limits the availability of some of our supplies.”
Surprisingly there are several entertainment opportunities even though Thule AB is in a remote location with the closest town being about 75 miles away. In the summer there are boat tours, a three-hole golf course, a go-cart track and the very popular climb up Mount Dundas.
“I love it out here, I really enjoy getting to know everyone I work with,” said Tech. Sgt. Andrew Krausfeldt, 23rd SOPS Detachment 1 NCO in charge. “When it’s light outside, it’s great because you can just hop in a truck and go on a Thule trip at two in the morning and it’s still beautiful outside.”
Even though the people are in an arctic environment, the surrounding sites are beautiful and look different each day. The sunsets at the pier, miles of frozen water, the different sized icebergs, glaciers, arctic foxes and hares, all change daily.
“The year being here has been a great experience, I can see icebergs floating by the pier outside my window,” said Diel. “I am amazed by the Airmen and all members of Team Thule that come together to create a really special place, to make such an inviting place where everyone takes care of each other and everyone fulfills their role as part of the team.”