Chicagoland/O'Hare Chapter 142

                             Air Force Association



The Air Force's Garden Spot

Thule Air Force Base in Thule, Greenland

Located more than 1100 km north from the Arctic Circle and about 1500 km away from the North Pole, Thule Air Base is the northernmost military base located of the United States of America. It is located in the eastern part of Greenland. Aside from its military purpose, the base is placed into a piece of paradise on Earth. The area is the only place on Earth where three glaciers get together, not to mention about the impressive sightseeings with icebergs and polar animals. The main mission of this unusual military base is to provide missile warning operations. At the same time, it deals with the general space control. Aside from being the northernmost base of the USA, the place is also the northernmost port in the world. It sees over 3000 flights every year.


Military forces have hung around this area even since it was discovered by the British explorers. Both the base and the mountain close to it were named after a popular British viscount – Robert Dundas. However, the first military construction was authorized in the summer of 1941, therefore the base was initially opened during World War II. The place was mostly used to provide weather information during the war through a multitude of stations. Many of them were run by the Danish forces and were intensively used during Operation Overlord.

After World War II ended, the Americans managed to observe the necessity of a more complete and advanced center in the area, especially when it came to carrying atomic bombs. In just a few years, the site became a very strategical point of the USA. But, it was without a clear owner – the United States of America or Denmark. In the end, NATO stepped in and asked for the new base to be part of the NATO defense system, while the Americans and the Danish had to deal with the operational issues on their own. The official construction of an advanced military base began in 1951. Due to the harsh weather conditions and the improper environment, it took the builders two years to finish it. They were living on the ships that transported them until the headquarters was up. It is said that building this base was at least as complicated as building the Panama Canal.


Spread over 14 time zones and six different countries, the 21-st Space Wing is currently the host unit at Thule Air Base. It includes three groups – medical, mission support and operations – and the staff agencies. Other than these groups, the base also houses the 721-st Mission Support Group and the 821-st Air Base Group.