By 1st Lt. Alexandra Swanson
821st Support Squadron Civil Engineer Flight
THULE AIR BASE, Greenland — The 821st Air Base Group opened Thule Air Base April 4-5 for its Armed Forces Day celebration.
The event provided the opportunity for U.S. service members and the local Danish community to build relations with the local Greenlandic villages. Visitors from Qaanaaq and the surrounding villages Savissivik, Siorapaluk and Qeqertat attended the event. Most attendees either arrived by dogsled or helicopter because of their remote locations.
About 30 visitors and 150 sled dogs began to arrive March 30, staying at either Thule AB or in hunters’ huts in Dundas village next to the base.
“Being able to see a dog sled race and understand the preparation that goes into the race gave me more appreciation to the Greenlandic culture,” said Master Sgt. Jason Balolong, 821st Support Squadron, who assisted with the lodging accommodations for the Inuit villagers. “Interacting with the locals made me value more of what Thule offers, especially with the extreme climate.”
Though some outdoor activities were postponed due to bad weather, the weather revealed its best side April 5 making the dog sled race possible. The race was a top interest for the 13 hunters, with the teams competing for a rifle donated by Thule contractors.
After a drawing to determine starting order, the racers and their dogs lined up for the crowd of about 150 spectators. A separate drawing gave lucky passengers the experience of a lifetime, riding along with the dogsled teams across North Star Bay.
In addition to the dog sled race, other activities promoted interaction between base personnel and the visitors, including a buffet at the Top of The World Club and a crafts sale in the base’s community center.
Thule Air Base is one of the six installations maintained and operated by the 21st Space Wing.