My story about Thule, Operation Blue Jay

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My story about Thule, Operation Blue Jay

Rather than reinvent the wheel, I am bumping this post from before, and adding the video of Operation Blue Jay.


Once again my apologies for being gone so long.  I was up at Thule which is located in the extreme north of Greenland.

It was cold.  Very cold.  The average temperature when I was there was about -20 with wind chills in the -30 range.  Thule isn't that big,  Here's a picture from wiki that shows the airbase:

Anyway, I don't want to give too much away, but did want to share a few of the videos I took, just so you can see what the acrtic tundra actually looks like.


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Just read great article on Thule Air Base Greenland in March 2015 Am. Legion magazine.
Thanks to Denmark for sharing their desolate tundra artic island with the U.S. a few years after the start of NATO in 1948. Hard to beleive such an airfield and defence system "Operation Blue Jay" could be built with such precision and speed secretly for a safer free world. Then-now-and fore the future. America working togeather can do anything!
Why me? 12 years in Air Force, orders come for Thule Greenland. Left wife & 3 children at Platsburg AFB, NY. (helped alot). At first a bit apprehensive & fearful of unkown assignment, but accecpted chalange to be part of 35 weather men providing weather support "on top of the world".
Our operations went on 24hr a day-every day, 4mo. of total sunlight & 3 mos of total darkness + everything in between. A place for wx records- Mar 72 180kts (205mph) wind at Phase shack #7,3mi from "j"Site. If you were ever at Thule, you know how quickly a white-out or Phases can wip up-Forecasting that was the chalange-since much of the SNOW was second hand off the ice cap. Observation we had plenty, on runway +10 other reporting instruments to include "P" Mountian. Had the fasest wx teletypes & fax machines of the early 70's. Our RAWIN ballon releases (wx data aloft) every 12 hours where the best in the entire world-on top of the world. We also released wx Rocked Sounds for upper atmosphere data (50 miles above the earth and downward) One of only a few in entire world. Our wx info. (Obs & Fcst) were disminated worldwide, plus throughout every building at Thule-even with Thule's AFRTS (FM radio & TV Station). Always Wx SAFETY & wx related articles were in weekly Thule Times (newspaper). Our duty included measuring the ice at dock area for resupply of precious cargo & fule near July 4 & again early Sept. Why so much about wx? If you were there- You Know! For sure Our Air Weather Service Had a Mission in the land of the "Blue Nose". In my 23 years of Air Force Service I feel all (military -scientific & civilians) were effected and appreciated what we did as the Thule Weather Team. All of our personnel to include addministration were the most uderstanding of each others job, needs, & responsipility . Such a congenial, corjugal, & considerate groupe of Officers, NCO's & Airman working togeather made that yeary pass quickly.
I also part timed in the BX - May have met some of you there, plus worked with or met so many wonderful Danes either through the BX or with DAC (Danish Artic Contract). You kept the base running smoothly. On Jul 1st, 1973, shortly after I left Thule- DAC & the Danish Govt. took over the wx station responsibilites.
I could write a book about all the other positive things I did or experienced while on top of the world
( I'm short on space-now) . The last few months of my assignment was made sweeter, as next tour was to Ramstein, Germany (only afew miles or klicks from my wife's home town.)
Shortly after reporting to a Weather SQ in Germany, An Air Force Commendation Metal followed.
We were all in the same boat doing our part for our Country.

I served as a radar operator on "P" Mountain 64-65. Wasn't thrilled to get orders for Thule when my new wife Lindy was pregnant, but will never forget some of the experiences that came our way on the search radar. Ended my four years of USAF time in Cape Cod.

Was wondering if you knew my dad he said he was watchijg the radar thought they was being attacked and it was a flock of birds

I was TDY to Thule from May to November 1967 from Dover, Del. Assigned to the 6th Weather Sq. (Mobile) for a special project. 179 days, one short to get credit for a tour so the following year I got shipped to Shemya, AK. I guess the Air Force thought I liked cold weather.

I spent one full year at Thule, I was assigned to Base Ops, as an airborne radio operator on one of the four goonie birds (c-47's} they used to supply the sites on the ice cap, and t-3. I would have gone nuts if I didn't get a chance to fly. Met a lot of intresting people, mostly those left over from the big war.

Two years after I got out (1956), I became an Air Traffic Controller, and retired from that after 30 years.

I have been living in Jacksonville, Fl for the last 57 years and love it! I've had enough cold climate to last 100 people.
Love to hear from anyone who remembers. My e-mail is

The year I spent at Thule was August 1953-1954.

I was rhere about the same time-August 53 to July of 54-was a radar operator with C Btry. 549th AAA Gun Bn. I remembe we could see P mtn. from our site and we could see the air field from our site-miss good old Thule !

He would go for about six mnths at a time.
Ran Heavy equipment(49er) or serviced it.
He was from NE Mpls,

Brother Pat McPherson
He would go for about six months at a time.
Ran Heavy equipment(49er) or serviced them..
He was from NE Mpls,

As a soldier, I was stationed in Thule from July 1955-June 1956, a one year tour. I was part of the 549th Anti-aircraft Group, before Nike missles. We had 75 abd 90mm anti-aircraft units stationed in the mountains to guard the base and runways. We were part of the First Army headquartered at that time at Governor's Island, New York. As I recall, the rumor was there were about 6000 Air force personnel and 1000 Army. Yes it was a lonely post and very depressing in winter with total darkness from about Thanksgiving until after Valentine's Day. And we did not have tanning beds or special lamps. Needless to say, there was a lot of drinking and alcoholism. I was a T I and E specialist and did the battalion newspaper and put the troop talks on the piimitive TV station as I was unable to travel to the isolated gun sites. This is probably more than you wanted to know. Ken G

I recently was chatting with an air force retiree that was telling me about his tour of duty in Greenland when he was younger. As a retired Army officer I was interested in his story as I had never heard of Thule. And then your March article in the Legion magazine but the story into proper perspective. Great job as our Air Force patriots. God Bless America-lets hope we can stay the course in the coming years of terror.

I was assigned by the Air Force to work at the Ballistic Missile Early Warning System (BMEWS) as the Site Space Surveillance Monitor. This was a 24/7 four shift responsibility and very taxing. I enjoyed all of the camaraderie of the people I worked with and there were many. The weather will never be forgotten! Most people who haven't been exposed to the temperatures and wind conditions at Thule, do not know what COLD means. I do not think I could live through it at my age today!

I was sent to Thule in March 1960 to March 1961. It was the worst experience I encountered in my almost 22 years in the military.

The cold was something else! A person could stand the cold with proper gear. Our detachment commander had to order our supply sergeant to issue the proper gear. He did not want to give out the gear. Why? Your guess is as good as mine.

The food was awful! I lost 52 pounds In my year at Thule. Why? I simply could not stomach the rations that were issued. The food in the mess hall was barely adequate but the survival rations were barely edible.

The barracks I lived in was shared with 25 other airmen. Small but adequate. It sometimes got so hot in the barracks (the temperature was always turned up to compensate for the cold outside) the "tar" used to seal the roof would drip on your bed and floors.

The recreation was playing cards, sleeping, and watching closed circuit TV. The programs would lull
a dead person to sleep as they had a habit of showing the same movie over and over. I counted one movie (a western) was shown at least 20 times.

I did see the movie Ben Hur at the base theater in that year. I almost froze. I wore my parka, iron pants, muck-lucks, gloves and still shivered through the entire movie. I compensate by stamping my feet to keep the circulation going. From the cadence of the other movie goers, there was much stamping in the audience. The University of Maryland did a live performance for the troops during that year and it was basically the same.

We had a weather forecaster that was so depressed that he could not take it any longer. After he briefed a crew departing for the United States, he walked over to the coat rack, put on his hat and simply walked to the aircraft and took a seat. No one noticed him until the aircraft landed at Goose Bay.

I can see how some military members suffer from PTSD. I would wake up in the middle of the night and believe I was still in Thule. This went on for years after I left Thule.

I spent almost 22 years in the USAF and enjoyed every minute of it with the exception of Thule. I spent a year in Vietnam and it was preferable to Thule. And I hated Vietnam!

I was at Thule from June of 1963 until Oct. 3rd of 1963. My unit, the 565th Transportation Company, 10th Transportation Battalion (STRAC) from Fort Story in Virginia, unloaded cargo ships during the shipping season.
I'm mystified that the American Legion Magazine's article did not have a picture of the BMEWS radar.
Four Screens, each as large as a football field. I was impressed.

Went to Thule from Westover in Feb. 1953. Was in passenger service at Thule until Fed. of 1954. For a 19 year old kid it was hell. Was planing on doing 20 years in the AF but after Thule I did my 4 and got out. Did my last 2 years at Travis AFB in the 1501 Air Transportation Sq (MATS).

I was with the C124 project at McChord AFB, Washington with the first two C-124's we flew to Westover AFB Mass and flew the radar gear and supplies to Thule AFB Greenland. Almost lost one to icing of props caused by short in blade caused by rocks on runway. Little information is available about our


In early 1960, I was awaiting assignment to Ft. Benning jump school when I was alerted for Thule assignment. A few days later, I received my notification for Ft. Benning. Went to CBPO and asked what I should do. They queried Headquarters TAC to ask about options. In 1977, I retired as a Combat Control CMSgt with MASTER PARAHUTIST wings on my chest.

Was there Aug 64 - Aug 65' worked in Wing Hq and drove the "Thule Stagecoach" at night.
Freaking worst year of my life. The ossifers lived like kings while us enlisted trash lived in the aluminum hot boxes, ate crap in the mess hall, and basically "barely existed". However, I went to Wisbaden, Germany, for the best three years of my life, after surviving The Tool .

We flew all the radar gear into Thule from Westover AFB Ma We TDY from McChord AFB Wa. Our role is sadly left out of the records. We almost lost an aircraft due to icing of the props. Seems gravel damage shorted one engine prop and the design of the system prevented the others from de-icing. It was a wonderful project that deserves recognition for its accomplishments evaluating the C-124. Got two stripes in six months for being a part of history

I visited Thule AFB in July 1985 as part of USO tour with my band The Kid from , Columbia, SC . I have very warm memories of a very cold place . Played some fantastic shows during our stop there

I have some written material and memorabilia you may want.

I was an enlisted radio operator and was stationed at Thule AB from Sept. 1951 until Sept. 1952. I worked on South Mountain in a small metal building that was guyed down because of the winds. I worked cw point to point and voice ground to air. We also had a direction finder to direct air craft to the base. If anyone remembers me please contact me at:

As a teen-aged Airman Third Class, just graduated from the vehicle repairman technical school at F. E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming, I was sent to do a one year tour in the maintenance shop at Thule. This was in the mid 1950s during the Cold (literally) War. Although straight off a farm in New Hampshire, where winter temperatures and snow drifts were some of the reasons why I joined the military, conditions above the arctic circle were, of course, worse. Besides the below freezing temperatures and hard to endure winds, it was dark for 24 hours a day. However, we all bundled up in bunny boots and other issued gear...and gritted our teeth...and made the best of it. Exploring the area under bright sunshine in the middle of the night during the summertime was, in contrast, a treat. In addition to gaining work experience on the grease rack during my 12 months there, I learned touch typing while on charge of quarters (CQ) duty ...and how to give haircuts to fellow service members while off duty. All have proven to be of value to this day. I wouldn't go back for anything, but I also wouldn't take anything for the knowledge gained there.

Lots of gym time. I was Deputy Accounting & Finance Officer in charge of account payments and officer and enlisted club finances. When off duty especially on Fridays a few of us would drive up to P-Mt. radar station for pizza and listen to the B-52 pilots talk to their counterparts as they all circled overhead. Learned to play handball and bowled a lot. Army Nike missile personnel numbered about 2000 and had to be paid in cash of which a lot of it ended up in the clubs coffers and BX. They shipped out in the Spring of 1965 so I think the Nike sites were shut down at that time. Great Danish food, crazy "phase" conditions with winds up to 130 mph. One time put a room temp Coke bottle on a string out the window and pulled it back in in less than a minute frozen! Lots of good folks up there during my stay. Duty was better than Vietnam which was really heating up back then. My main hardship was the separation from a 4 month old daughter and a wonderful, loving wife back in Illinois at the time. I heard the the gym at Thule burned down sometime in the late 60's. Do not know if was every rebuilt.

Ray Davis, Ex 101st Airborne/327th, 1956-1959. From 1960-1962 I was in Thule as a "Civilian RCA Sub Contractor." They were still building the last two to four Radar Screens. IE: Under various stages of completion. I watched them complete the Geodesic Radar. Got to travel up the mountain from the base every day. The NCO Club was much better than the Officers Club!

Just for the hell of it I thought I would post here as my father was over in Thule approx. 1951 to 1954 I think. He passed away when I was just 1 1/2 years old and never really got to know him, if anybody knew him please email me at thanks in advance.

I served at Thule from about august of 53 to june or july of 54-we went to Thule on a ship as a whole Bn.-the General Stewart Heintzelman-I was a member of the 549th AAA Gun Bn.-we arrived there in August-our barracks were not ready so we had to stay on the ship till our barracks were ready-we went up to the mountain daily and back to the ship at end of day-we also had to ready our anti-aircraft guns etc.-when the ice started to build we had to get off so that the ship could go back to the states the ship and double up in the air force barracks-till or site was completed-when it was time to rotate to the states-we started to go to nike missiles-am proud to have served at Thule even though it was no picnic-my dd214 proves I served at Thule and my memories are fond memories-am 86 yrs. old now and like to see things about Thule on computer -what changes !!!


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News from the World of Military and Veterans Issues. Iraq and A-Stan in parenthesis reflects that the author is currently deployed to that theater.