By Lt Col Doug Hickey | 821st Air Base Group Deputy Commander
THULE AIR BASE, Greenland — At the invitation of the Mute Bourup Egede, Prime Minister of Greenland, Her Majesty Queen Margrethe II of Denmark paid an official visit to Greenland from Oct. 8 to 12, 2021. The visit was originally scheduled for July 2021, but was postponed due to a series of COVID-19 outbreaks throughout Greenland. During the trip, Her Majesty visited Illulissat, (the capital city of Nuuk), Pituffik (Thule Air Base), and Station Nord maintaining a theme of commemorating national history, while also paying tribute to the Danish and U.S. military partnership.
In Illulissat, Queen Margrethe attended the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the 5th Thule expedition by Knud Rasmussen by visiting his birth place, while also touring the recently inaugurated Illulissat Icefjord Center, a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site; which focuses on the Arctic environment.
In the capital city of Nuuk, Greenland, Her Majesty visited the national museum and unveiled a plaque at the memorial stone commemorating the royal visit by Christian X and Queen Alexandrine in 1921.
Queen Margrethe then paid a “private” visit to Thule Air Base where she engaged with United States, Danish and Greenlandic personnel during her first visit since 2015.
The final stop on her Greenland trip was a visit to Station Nord, the northernmost place in Greenland, with a permanent crew who is stationed there year-round supporting Armed Forces’ units across the country.
Thule AB was honored for the opportunity to host Her Majesty, The Queen of Denmark, a respected icon and public figure across both Denmark and Greenland, serving as Queen and Head of the Danish Armed Forces for nearly 50 years. Accompanying her to Thule Air Base was Mikaela Engell, High Commissioner of Greenland. In addition to affording approximately 20 United States, Danish and Greenland personnel the honor of attending two formal dining events with the queen, U.S. Space Force Col. Heather McGee, 821st Air Base Group commander, briefed the royal party on how Thule AB is now supporting the mission of the newly established United States Space Force. During this brief, she highlighted the fact that Thule AB provides significant strategic value for both NATO and U.S., remaining a collaborative space where the U.S., Denmark, Greenland and Canada cooperate on a range of issues including regional security, scientific research and support for our activities in space which includes early warning radar, facilitating communication with polar orbit satellites, and monitoring domestic and international space launches.
In addition to providing a mission-focused update to Her Majesty, McGee took great care in expressing our commitment to the mission at Thule and the continued alliance with Denmark as demonstrated through continued cooperation with the Danish Joint Arctic Command and the re-opening of the U.S. Consulate in Nuuk.
During the visit to Thule, Queen Margrethe received a personal tour of the Heritage Hall Museum by Michael Boe Nielsen, resident historian, who articulated the importance of preserving the collective history and heritage of Thule AB, celebrating the diversity and accomplishments sustained over the last 70 years.
Furthering this message of continued partnership, McGee described the long-standing community outreach efforts by Team Thule to the villages in northern Greenland which include the 62-year Operation JULEMAND providing annual holiday gift donations to the local kids and schools; the more than 30 year-old cultural exchange called “Greenlandic Heritage Week” where local village families travel by dog-sled to Thule AB for events and cultural engagement; the internships and apprenticeship sponsored by the base maintenance contract; and the hosting of Greenlandic school kids, providing them much needed exposure to various job opportunities.
The visit to Thule AB was a resounding success whereby members of Team Thule put their best foot forward during this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity leaving a lasting impression on the Queen of Denmark as evidenced by the publishing of photos taken by Thule military members on the Royal Danish website: https://www.kongehuset.dk/foto-video/besoeg-paa-pituffik-thule-air-base