This is a peronal story sent to me by TL Pack on january 15. 2008
I severed at Cape Athol in 1971/72. My memory is a little vague on the specific dates, but suffices to say, as many have expressed, the experiences seem like yesterday. I was one of the engineers, tasked with keeping the engines running, lights on, heat working, vehicles moving, water available, and the shitsicle pipe warmer working there-by keeping said pipe from freezing, that if not successful would result in crap backing up into the grey water room. This never happened.
That summer we engineers built a second earth dam above the original. We modified our artic gear to hold 18 cans of beer. We managed to keep our Thiokol 5 person track vehicle moving by modifying the engine and adding a 3 foot ½ inch steel pipe as a shifter. The M-37 Dodge power wagons keep moving despite having only a portion of the recommend parts. And although Nodwell suffered a seizure and after extensive work, in the early morning hours, as the sun crested the horizon, sometime in April, she, unfortunately dies rather ignominiously, in garage number two, providing us with an opportunity for a three day wake.
On another equally mystical morning, the Chief Electrician conned Bill out of one of our old patched inter-tubes. He overfilled it with air and went outside to introduce the base to IT’ing. After a 25 minute hike up the dump hill he launched himself into local history and immediately broke the Greenland land speed record for sliding down an ice sloop on an old piece of rubber tube. He then capped off the event with a celebratory head cracking and concussion on one of the few rocks at the bottom of the hill.
We idled the summer days away sorting out tracer rounds from the 3000 rounds of M-1 ammunition we had on hand, re-depositing it all into a blue school bus we had stolen, sorry, borrowed from Thule AFB. It was all in the name of engineering science and we can now unequivocal testify that tracers will not light up gasoline quite the same way as well tossed electrician’s Zippo lighter. Two potential prosecutable indiscretions resolved with the flick of a zip.
No one ever questioned why we had access to all this fire power. Our arsenal included M14’s, M1s, shotguns, 45s and enough ammo to suppress even the most vigorous Air Force uprising. God knows the weaponry we had on hand; it would have done no good against our most frequent visitors, the Inuit.
The name Inuit means “people who can shoot a seal in the eye from an incredibly long way with a 30/30 that has its bore held to the stock with a bit of wire.” The Russians were not smart enough to avoid the Afghans, but were bright enough to avoid coming between the U S Coast Guard and our Inuit friends. So, invasion was not the reason for our stockpile of noise makers. Perhaps it was to protect ourselves from the one creature we knew, from practical experience, would require at least 500 rounds of various types of ammunition to bring it down, the artic fox.
Our bond with the locals was strengthen one day when at 3AM a local showed up at our door completely frozen, not cold but frozen. The doc stripped him, wrapped him in a warm blanket and we dried his frozen cloths and seal skin pants in the plenum. The smell still haunts me. From that day on we saw them at least once a month and the stolen Air Force paraphernalia keep them coming back. Truly a great people, the Inuit I mean. Don’t get me wrong the Air Force guys were great; bringing us USO shows, High Chaparral episodes and beer, but the locals had color. A nod to Sergeant Spivey, Deck Chief, of our favorite Jolly Green.
I could go on all night, but my bike rack is out of beer. The names that come to mind to lend credibility to my story are seaman Bell, an electrician named Altman and engineer Bill. I remember the faces better because I have quite a few pictures, but the other names elude me. I have a picture of the base. I will try to upload it on my computer and send it to you.