Summit Treestands
Greenland Recollections
Contributors to this thread:
JL 26-Mar-18
Bou'bound 26-Mar-18
From: JL
One of my older USCG friends wrote the below yesterday in an email to someone else. He was stationed up there back in the 1950's at a LORAN station. He has many stories to share of his experiences. He is very knowledgeable of Greenland. I thought some my find this interesting.....

It is just past midnight here. Therefore, I will be brief.

YES, I am quite familiar (or was) with the transplant of 3 seed herds of musk oxen in the Thule District in July (or possibly early August) 1984 by the CG icebreaker NORTHWIND, of them at the site of the former USCG LORAN Station, Cape Atholl. I wrote a brief but detailed letter on this which I e-mailed to you and others about 2 or 3 or 4 years ago. They have long ago multiplied, and were being hunted by the local Inuit. The ones at the former LORAN station were quite aggressive and hostile when I was there in 1994.

This was done in cooperation with a Danish scientist, Dr. Vibe. (Christian Vibe ???) Two USCG helicopters were used to capture young male & female musk ox (one male per two females). A Dane flew in the helicopters and selected the victims, which were "darted" from the air to put them to sleep. The helicopter then landed, and retrieved each one, and deposited them aboard the CGC NORTHWIND,...where each one was placed into a plywood box, with the male or female symbol. The location was somewhere along the length of the 90 miles long Sondre Strom Fjord. I forget the total number captured. This took place in June as I recall. Next, the ship took them to the USAF airbase called Sondrestrom Fjord (ex-BW-8),.... where a cargo plane flew them to Thule airbase. They did not want to subject the young musk oxen to a long duration sea voyage to Thule.

As I recall, the NORTHLAND arrived at Thule on or about July 4, 1984...the usual first annual arrival date. The musk oxen were put back aboard the ship in their boxes, which then took them to the 3 transplant sites, and deposited them ashore by boat, one male to two females ratio. I do not remember the totals at each place.

The first place was in the valley of the former CG LORAN Station, called Qarautit. By boat. The site had been "returned to nature" (in 1975 or 76 ?), leaving only the station's separated "Survival Building" for the use of Inuit travelers & hunters, and a small shed. The station was located about half way between the Thule District's two major villages of Qaanaaq and Savigsavik ...."the place of iron" (Once world's largest nickel-iron meteorites, which were retrieved by Peary, and the three are in the Museum of Natural History in NY City). The next site was about 75 miles north of Thule airbase near the main village (Thule District capital) Qaanaaq. The third site was farther north at or close to the long ago village of Etah.

The two USCG helicopters were based at Mobile, and they have photos and records of this.

The ships BEAR and THETIS rescued USA's first North Pole seeking 3 years disaster expedition led by Army Lt. Greeley across the water, Smith Sound. from Etah,...and LCDR R.E. Byrd made his first attempt to fly to the North Pole from Etah in two seaplanes in 1925.

These musk oxen had been transplanted from the uninhabited NE coast of Greenland decades earlier into the Sondre Strom Fjord. (Sondre means "south"). I do not know when that was done, and if the USCG did it or not.

There was also a transplant of seed caribou from the south into the Thule district in about the mid 1960's. Local Eskimos and a Danish school teacher at Qaanaaq told me that a USCG icebreaker did it;...but I was not successful in learning if this was true,...if so, what ship,...and when ??? (A former XO of the WESTWIND told me that maybe the WESTWIND did it before his time aboard...retired RADM Applebaum. )

My English speaking Inuit host in 1994 (RADM Peary's grandson Sivsu Peary) told me a cute tale about this transplant. It is or was a "well known fact"....told in books, etc.... that the caribou had long been extinct in the NW Greenland...for reasons of repeated rain turned into ice on the ground, which caused the caribou to starve. Others blamed it on CDR R.E. Peary for supplying his Eskimos with guns, and they killed them all.

A couple years after the transplant was done, the Danish scientists (Dr. Vibe) returned to check on their progress....and found two different species of caribou there...the new ones and the extinct ones. Sivsu's punch line was: "They never asked us."


The Narwhal tusk that I had donated to the USCG Museum at the CG Academy in 1994 was presented to me by RADM Peary's grandson, Sivsu, when I was there as their invited house guest in August 1994. It was presented as a "Thank You gift to the US Coast Guard" for all the good deeds that USCG LORAN Station had done for them over a span of years. All of the Eskimos who had permanent homes at the village of Thule were "relocated' ("expelled" ) from Thule in 1953, to the newly enlarged village at Qaanaaq, when the airbase was built Thule,...and they were not allowed inside of the base's defense zone,... which was in the approximate middle of their coastal district. Most of them were subsistent hunters. It was a gross insult to them....and contact between the Eskimos and the American military personnel was not allowed by the USA-Danish agreement for the protect their health and culture.

The USCG LORAN station was built in 1953-54he one exception, because as best that I knew, the CG station had ignored the "no contact" rules from the start. The CG station had become the "Good Neighbor" and the Eskimos were welcome visitors....and good, tea, occasional meals, movies, use of its shops, indoor lodging (in our very large storeroom) in storms,...and most important: basic medical first aid. They helped us with our own dogsled team, which an earlier CO (LTjg Bob Cluett) had obtained from them. Some of us travelled with them. I visited their villages and camps. Our hospital corpsman assisted in two births. Their only doctor was located about 100 mile away at Qaanaaq.

I received "lectures" from the Danish Liaison Officer at the airbase about my violations of the "No Contact" rules,...and I took it upon myself to challenge those least in our unusual situation. I did it via civilian Danish administrator friends at Qaanaaq, the lady doctor, Dr. Givskud, and the Greenlander missionary-school teacher there. The USCG LORAN station was officially-locally exempted by both the Danish administration, and by the new Danish military Liaison Officer at the airbase.

A few years later, Greenland got a measure of Home Rule. RADM R.E. Peary's Inuit grand daughter, Pauline, (who was 2 years younger than me) became the elected mayor of the Thule District (which was a county). In 1994, "they" invited me to return as their guest, and the USAAF provided me with the air travel from USA to Thule airbase, and then flew to Qaanaaq in the local private Aero Club's little Cessna. and landed on the dirt road been the village and its cemetery. We spent days visiting house to house, and telling stories. As I was about to return to the Thule airbase, my English speaking host, Sivsu Peary, presented via me with the Thule District's logo symbol, the 4 ft. long Narwhal tusk, the USCG.

From: Bou'bound
Thanks for sharing

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