English 8

English 8


After almost 3 months at home, I suddenly received a call from a man from the firm Greenland Contractors at Bomhusvej in Emdrup, performing work at the Thule base and Kangerlussuaq in Greenland.  I got the address from Henrik (Dorthe and Henrik in Brisbane) who have previously worked in Greenland. I had then sent a postcard from Australia to the company and told a little about myself, if they could use one as me at the airbase in the cold.

In fact I had not thought about it since the postcard was sent, but suddenly I was sitting here at Bomhusvej in Copenhagen and talked about possible jobs in Greenland. He offered me a job as supervisor at the Central Workshop in Thule, but I said nothanks the bid because I think my English in speaking is not good enough for such a position where there is more direct contact with the U.S. Airforce and therefore a greater need for English proficiency.  Shame I think , but then vanished the man straight out the door to come back with a fresh telex from Thule, who told that they needed a contractor mechanic at the air base.
If it was something?

If it was! And I was about 2 seconds to thank yea and had already start planning.
It was Monday today and the plane left Copenhagen already on Thursday against the Thule airbase and I was going through medical examinations and various other things prior to departure.

My conscience could be a very small place when I walked up to Chief Poul Villy on the Blue Buses in Holte and I told him that I had to leave the job immediately. I had not the best conscience, because just Poul Villy had helped me with fast job when I came home from Australia. But he knew me after all and we shook hands on a good future.
Thank you Poul Villy!

Then it went otherwise strong. Medical examinations and a lot of paperwork to be done. And get around and talking with family and friends again and they shook their heads.  Some  thought appeared that I was not quite right in the head with all the traveling around and then Greenland now! Well what?
I've since seen something new every day instead of sitting still.
November 1987

Thursday morning and out to the airport again, this time to find out gate to the long DC 8-chartered for the trip to Thule Air Base. It is very crowded during the day when there are many who must return to base after a holiday in Denmark. I was the only "newcomer", but I soon fell into conversation with the others when we all waited in the departure lounge at Copenhagen. It was 9 o'clock in the morning and several began to drink beer, but I kept myself to the water.
It was probably best to stay sober and not to appear on a slack line, already on the first day in the company.

Pleasant flight across the Atlantic, Iceland and Greenland ice cap, which looks very impassable down there below us.   5 hours northwest of Denmark and the climate is very different. Have just read that it is "First Night" at the Thule base 22nd of  November.  It is  the first day when the sun is not visible from the base and in the next 3 months when there is night on the base. Curious about how it now goes where I am so obsessed with the sun and heat. Correspondingly, the "First Light" on 22
February, when the sun returns to the base over the Southmountain.

Sitting here on the plane and look down at night while we fly around the base to prepare for landing. What the heck is it now I'm doing? It looks like something as a lie down there with the darkness that surrounds the gray metal huts and a few lights here and there. I wonder if anyone are living there? Well, this is probably right and it is too late to change what i'm doing. Then it goes down and the aircraft lands like a snowflake on the pitch, so I think that the driver tried it once before.  The DC-8 taxis over to a gray building that surely must be some kind of welcomehouse for new workers and returnees from leave.  I thought I was the only "newcomer", but there are some more with the same crazy idea as I, namely to start a new job here.
Thinking for a moment whether we prefer to have a mental examination?

Well, we go right in and being greeted by someone.  He mumbles his name (mmuytrvh and welcome) and we then take a bus that drives us over to a place called "Recreation Center" as the sign outside said.
Here we get seated at a table, offered coffee, tea and soft drinks as desired.

Welcome to the Thule Airbase! One is a little curious over what should happen today, so we all have to keep your ears stiff, as there are many safety information because it is storm season in the area. These are very powerful storms that can come from nothing in a short time - are told that a clear notice is required if the temperature rises rapidly (within 5-10 minutes),  from minus 30 to zero, it is best to be prepared for the storm. Everything here is very different from life at home by mother's protective arms and always warm cupboard.
There goes another hour of safety information about life in and around the base.

It was the most important thing for safety and so we move the focus to hunger (finaly).   Off to "Dundas Dininghall" where we go up and get a plate filled with some really good food.  Then  sit and eat and have a little chat about anything. To be able to eat here, you just write Your name on a list at the entrance to the well-equipped food stands where you can get all the food you can have in you.
There are plenty to choose from, so I see a future without hunger and pain in the knees of overweight.

After dinner we drove around the base and were shown and explained a lot of things and was told what the various buildings contained, as there is to know about. Including the gymnasium, where almost all training can be done.
The Danish club, cinema, several hangars and a little nip down near the port, but it's closed now because the water is stiff and vessels are gone.

The sun is gone, but there are street lights everywhere.  All buildings here resemble each other in confusion, because all are built of aluminum. Virtually no special features beyond number, who later turns makes the base relatively easy to navigate in. The same system as in the U.S., with street numbers that tell where we are in the rows of houses, so it will now probably go fine afterwords. I shall stay in Barak 326. So it will be third street, row two and sixth barrack.
How hard can it be!

I'm the only new mechanic, so there will be a short trip down to the workshop, referred to as #580 (fiveeighty called) for all rolling stock and vehicles are maintained and repaired. And then there's warehouses and offices. There is an over boss (Superintendent) at the workshop called Birger Jensen, but he has just taken on holiday. Then there are 2 Supervisors, Uffe ? and Erik Lisner. Besides these, there are a couple of Crew Chiefs, who takes care of some papers and screws cars simultaneously when there is time for it.
Total employed 28 people in #580, so there are many names to remember in the future.

Whew, it was a long day. Remaining in the barrack and have seen my room. Nothing special, but there is a bed, table, some chairs, a wardrobe and a TV. Had hoped for a refrigerator, but here are common fridge in trunk space. I go up in the BX, which is a supermarket where base residents can buy a little of everything and everything of little.
Think I want to give a few rounds of beer, water and some snacks for the other residents in the barrack, when they come home from work.

I also have emptied the suitcase and relax a bit down before the 12 other residents came home.  Quickly falls into conversation with a few pieces over a beer and we goes to the "Dundas Dininghall" together and eat dinner. Very fine and back home in barrack again we had a good evening with talk and socialize.  Are told that Barak has a joint fund with the sale of water and beer, where profits go to dinners and parties. Fine, so we do not buy drinks in BXen for ourself, but do it in unison. 
Although prices here are double, so it goes to a good cause with shanty festivitas and more.

Working time is from 600 to 1700, Monday to Friday and Saturday from 600 to 1200 and maybe there are overtime beyond the ordinary. On the first day in #580 I get work clothes, protective clothing and parka, thermal underwear, elephant hat and "mukluks" which are special canvas boots for use in the Arctic. Here after a tour of the workshop and have a little talk with each of my future colleagues.  And then a drive around the base, to see and see again what is the potential here. There is also a longer trip (about 25 km) up to the radar station, "BMEWS" (Ballistic-Missile-Early-Warning System) formerly called "J-Site", where the big radar are, looking down over most
of the world from this place far north.

On the return pass we also touched on DET-3, located just outside the base. The DET-3 (Detachment-3, 22.Space Operations Squadron) is a satellite tracking and control station where there are control over many of the different satellites, the U.S. has sent into space over time to protect us all, they say Also an exciting place with a myriad of wires and lights that flash and beeps constantly. Hear that one should not be pregnant and work here, because it can produce "different" kids. 
Comforting to know if I get pregnant someday.

Back in #580 I get a mega large toolbox on wheels that I spend a few hours to clean up and have supplemented with some new tools.  It was day 2 at the workshop and then it goes back to #326, out in the shower and find the dininghall and fill my stomach. An exciting day with many impressions and many new information.
In one way or another, I begin already to feel at home, incredible as it may sound after such a short time here.

The f irst time I work in the GP Department (GP - General Purpose) for repair of cars and vans. But after they found out that I also was a busmechanic, I almost decided by my self what I will repair, because most others preferably avoid the busjobs. There are no major fluctuations, but after a few weeks, they need a man in the SP Service department (SP - Special Purpose), which repairs heavy equipment such as bulldozers, loaders, snow removal equipment and vehicles, trucks, stone crushers, various machinery and .. .
Yes, I could go on.

Sounds exciting, so I put up and gets the job, so I move up in the heavyweight division, where I am a month or so until there needs a man in Hangar 6, where the new stone crusher are being assembled. This means that it has just come from the U.S. in disassembled form and must be assembled for use next summer to produce materials for the roads and other things.  There are
 also 2 landings crafts and 2 tuboatss here which is being renovated for use next summer.

Also here is a new long-sleeved mobile crane, which incidentally is later sold and shipped to Sweden for the buyer. Later I finds that it is my old friend Knut Jureen who bought it quite cheaply. There have you done a bloody good buy Knut, because although it is only5 years old, it has not been used as much as one minute.
Owe anyway just to say that Knut Jureen is one of the old founders of the Swedish Harley-Davidson Club  (HDCS).

We are only 2 blacksmiths/engineers here in Hangar 6.  T he first month or so, I work with Bjarne Bunk. For some reason, Bjarne went home to Sindal in Jutland and I get a new partner named Aksel Sörensen Schiødt.  Aksen  are also called "The cold smith".  A nickname he got because some colleagues would joke with him and set fire to the eternal tuft of twist that Axel had always in the back pocket. But instead of jumping up and rushing around, like most others would do, looked Aksel just at the fire that burned up along the back and said in his slow Jutland language, "Jaaaa, if You can light the fire, you can probably also turn it off again".  
And then he continued to work and there was some who scurried to extinguish the fire.

Aksel and I worked really well together and had resolved the many and diverse challenges that came up to us. At the same time we should examine the landing boats and the 2 tugboats, so they were ready for next season at the harbor.  And next year, the new 32 tons stone crusher also like to be ready work.  Besides assemple the stone crusher, all welds should be strengthened so they were twice as large.  An enormous task, which would be used large quantities of welding electrodes.
So if I not already had experience in electric welding , then I got it here.

Ooja,  I also get a little ekstrajob in the hangar. There should be a Crew Chief to the paperwork, so it become me to fix it, so it was uptodate all the time.  Not such a big task, but it took some time to collect parts from the store and write timesheets, in addition to working with Aksel also avoid becoming bored.  At the same time I also had the topjob to fetch drinks, coffee, bread and other super important things, which Aksel and I had our breaks covered with. This must never fail !!
Aksel and I took good care of ourselves. We usually had a visit only once a day by our Superintendent, Birger Jensen, who always came at fixed times.  A couple of times a day was our supervisor, Erik Lisner,  here to talk and get some papers on things we had repaired. 
Birger always came creeping silently from one or another reason, unlike Erik who always got high whistling and scrampling in through the hangar door from the flightline.

It was a really good time in Hangar 6, where we had done lots of work, possible and impossible. I also found an old abandoned bike down by the harbor, I repaired and painted with a blue US.Airforcecolor and "Harley-Davidson" written on the frame.  So Harley was not totally forgotten and I ran quite a few tours on the bike, instead of using the shopcar when I was at #580 to get parts for work.
Really well and I has also trained me a bit.

After a month I was invited to move to Barak 243, which suited me fine. Here lived some of my colleagues from #580 and it fits me really well with the social life, which were significantly better here in #243.   There was almost familial modesinf 243, with regular joint dinners and parties plus much more.
Fine with the move.

Actually we got a lot done in the workshop in Hangar 6.  Not least because the different departments sometimes had a good "buddy" system.  It was a pretty slow affair to order parts and others through the official channels. But around in the different departments and workshops, it was an incredible amount of new parts and new materials, which over the years had left the system and officially existed only in memories around because someone had saved them from the dumpster instead of throwing
them out. Afterall, they was brandnew.

Likewise, the "Buddy" system functioned really well, when it burned on to get things done faster.  Instead of waiting for new parts, there was almost always someone in a shop somewhere on the base, which possibly had something or could something so that the work was completed without papers, so the equipment came out and work again, instead of all stopped unnecessarily.
Well, know it was not correct, but it worked fine and US.Airforce got things done and running again so they could save the world.

It was often many long hours on the job 6 days a week.   And work and leisure flowed almost together, especially in winter months when darkness last 24 hours a day. The head was not thinking so much about what was day and night, but only that it was work or leisure.
Workshop from 6 to 17 Mon-Fri with repair and 6 to 12 on Saturdays, when most hours went to clean up and wash the whole floor of Hangar 6, before the weekend began.

Storm season is from September 15 to May 15.  It happened a few times that there is a bit more "free time" when we, because a storm were forced to close shop and go home in the barrack.  At the base divided storms in Phase 1, 2 and 3.   When it went into "Phase-1" stopped all welding, but otherwise functioned normally rest. But when there were reported "Phase-2" over the speakers, stopped all work and then all had to quickly go home in the barrack.  When the storm reported up in
 "Phase-3", all work stopped and we must be where you where and then call home to the Barrackforeman and tell where You were staying.

This is a security measure which the Barrackforeman should report to the "Storm Center" telling when all people are back in the barrack and if not, state where they were staying.  If there are missing people during a storm, there would be launched a search quickly. But it was not a weather that has just pulled one out on a hike. These arctic winds gets hurricanes around the world to look like a little windy. 
The arctic storms are very strong and often with blowing snow so thick that you are not in doubt it's best to be indoors, where you now are right now. You are lucky if You can see one meter forward.

I remember a time when there was reported a Phase-2. Aksel and I was start returning to Barak 243. We went from Hangar-6 and along the building, with Aksedl a few meters in front of me.  When  we just got clear of the building, grabbed the wind Aksel and he went down and rolled and slid down the road. But 20 yards away Aksel slashed into a pole and held on. It was certainly because that Aksel was a little slight man, he was an obvious target for the storm. Now I was ready to the wind after seeing Axle's one-man show, so I got down on all fours and crawl forward to reach Aksel, so we could crawl on all 4 back on the road like a couple of loving crabs do. But back to the hangar we came. Whew, that's not something you want to try 2 times, so it was just about to call home to our barrackforeman and tell where we were.  The foreman  phoned to the storm control and a couple of hours later we were picked up by a bus that drove around to pick up those who were stranded around in their workplaces. 
At home in the barrack, we heard the storm was reported up in Phase-3, so it shooked very well in the barrack and any desire for outdoor life was stopped automatically.

Whew, that was something of a storm we got today. I do not know how strong it blew today, but the arctic storms can in a little time get from zero and well above 300 km. per hour in wind speed. By comparison, an ordinary hurricane, have a windspeed of 120 km. per hour.
So there it's not something to play with up here - it does one probably only once.

Otherwise here are almost always clear blue sky in summer and a super starry night sky in winter months. Meteorologist says it actually happens very often that one can see the northern lights here, but unfortunately almost only visible to the instruments and not to the human eye here in the high Arctic areas, with the incredibly clear weather.
The weather does not much snow, but when the storms raging can snow in large quantities be moved inhere from the icecap where there is snow in large quantities lying on the ice.

But enough about the weather right now. Must also remember to tell a little about recreational activities where there are many opportunities of if you do not want to stay in the barrack and be lazy. If you like physical activity during leisure time, there is a well equipped gym with a large room with weight training, which I used 5-6 days a week. And yes, there actually came a lot of bubbles on the arms and legs then, so I had to buy new shirts.
Ball games and all forms of gymnastics are also here and if You like pleasure, there's also a great bowling alley here.

Christmas night 1987 was held in "Top of the World Club", which brought together many of the residents on the base. Elegant dinner and dancing afterwards. 
Also New Year's Eve 87-88 held at the club, with music, dancing and everything.

And then there is the Danish club, where it is possible to eat and enjoy a beer or water, or watch Danish TV. Haha, the Danish channels can be seen only on video, with a couple of weeks of delay because they were recorded in Denmark, only to be flown up to the base. But there were many who came every day to see old news and other broadcasts from home. Saturday evening is the highlight of the week, often with good quantities of good beer and maybe a nice dinner in the American club, "Top of the World Club" followed by the wise bartalk or in the banquet hall where there were often orchestral or band that played up to dance.
Often ends Saturday night here because it seems like a safety valve after a week of long hours, so you have to go a little crazy sometimes.

Continues in English 9


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28.11 | 21:46

And I have never experienced any problems myself

28.11 | 21:43

There are no problems dear Laila.., My site is secured through the company I have the website uploaded in... I've never heard of any crashes there. Take care

18.10 | 21:46

Enjoyed reading about your upbringing. I was a little concerned because I have a "Red Alert" that says your site is Not Secure so was afraid to stay longeer

20.01 | 14:17

Hej Sven, kig engang herind www.per-anne.dk find ferieture i menuen og Grønland 1989
Mvh. Per Skjødt, søn af den kolde smed

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