Thule Air Base, Greenland — Capt. Stephen Caple, 821st Support Squadron Civil Engineer flight commander at Thule Air Base, Greenland, has been defending the ice for the Air Force since 2008 when he enrolled at the U.S. Air Force Academy and played goalie for their National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I college ice hockey program.
Caple played hockey for four years at USAFA, starting in goal his junior and senior seasons, before graduating in 2012.
One of his biggest games came when he defended the ice against nationally ranked No. 5 Colorado College, Nov. 12, 2010, making a career-high 27 saves in a 2-1 win. It was Air Force’s first win in 10 tries against CC at the Colorado Springs World Arena.
“Our win over CC was huge in an in-state rivalry game,” said Caple about the upset victory. “We also had numerous wins in the playoffs that allowed our team a chance at the league and regional championships.”
Caple said defending the ice as a goaltender for the USAFA was a big honor. It gave him a chance to contribute to a tight-knit brotherhood as they endured the USAFA adventure alongside one another.
“As the last defender on ice, goalies know that if the puck reaches the net, the entire team is looking at you to come up big with a save and reverse the momentum of the game,” said Caple. “That shared trust and dependency is what bonds a team together.”
As a Thule AB flight commander, Caple has a team of six Airmen responsible for Air Force engineering operations as contracting officers’ representatives providing oversight to approximately 220 contractors, to include: fire emergency services, emergency operations management, utility systems and power plant operations, snow removal, resource management and housing programs, as well as project oversight and future plans integration.
“Everyone here at Thule Air Base plays an important role in securing Air Force Space Command, North American Aerospace Defense Command, Combatant Command, United States Northern Command, and North Atlantic Treaty Organization defense,” said Caple. “In addition, we have numerous other scientific defense partners such as the National Science Foundation, the High Arctic Institute, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration seeking to protect nature, wildlife, and the atmosphere 750 miles north of the Arctic Circle.”
Caple said he sees Thule AB as a strategic location while he willingly defends it. While no longer in net at USAFA he continues to defend 750 miles north of the Arctic Circle.