John Hunt's TDY tour in Greenland (1948-49)
This is the recollections of John J. Hunt from 1948 in Greenland.
I was assigned to the old 174th AACS I & M Squadron at Ft McAndrews Newfoundland in 1948. My first job was with a 32 man team to go to Greenland to rehabilitate tired communications facilities. The team was led by 1st Lt Jack Rutledge and S/Sgt Ernest Austin. The tour got off to a bad start, when BW-1 was socked in on the approach on the 3rd of July, so the alternate was BW-8 Sonderstrom. We arrived there a bit before midnight and the sun was shining bright. We stayed there until the next day and got into BW-1 and found an empty barracks for the team. It was very primitive. A day or two later we started the refurbishment of the antenna farm at Camp Corbett. The only way to get to Camp Corbett was by way of a cable car. I was new to the communications field, having spent 2 1/2 years in the U S Navy as an Electrician aboard a 173 foot Patrol Craft, so cutting and hanging three curtain rhombics so they would all have the same droop was really educational. After a week or two at this job five of us took the tug down to Narsak Point to rework the Communications equipment at the Danish weather facility. We stayed with the three Danes who collected the weather data and sent the information to BW-1 by Morse code, and the Eskimos for about four days. This was a very enlightening trip, to live this close to the Eskimos and watch them process their summer codfish catch the same way they have been doing it forever. Then back to BW-1 and more work at Camp Corbett. A little bit later we again took the tug, but al little farther down the Fjord to BW-3, where we spent about two weeks. Back to BW-1 and another tug trip to the southern extreme of Greenland, to the Danish weather station at Prinz Christian Sound. On this trip we were accompanied by a team from the Corps of Engineers, who did work on the buildings while we were working on the communications facilities. We stopped at Julianehab on the way down and back. Again we were introduced to the Greenland natives. Most of the team went back to Newfoundland in September, but I was left there with Howard E Cook, a radar technician from and two or three other fellows. We were doing routine maintenance in support of the 1935th AACS Sqdn.. WE were having trouble with the radio teletype circuit to Goose Bay Labrador, so our bright young Philco tech rep decided that we would move the receiving antenna, a double doublet 87 degrees, so that it would be vertical to Goose Bay. We chiseled a hole out of the rock at the receiver site in November and put in a new 85 foot pole. Then we swung the same antenna around to the new pole. The reception was worse. Our bright young tech rep had forgotten about the magnetic forces that Greenland holds. I can remember the tower folks talking about being able to see a plane on the approach to the runway, but couldn't talk to him, when they had been talking to him 50 miles down the fjord behind a mountain.
This was also the time they were ferrying Martin 202's and Convairs to Europe via BW-1. That was the first time I had ever saw a plane taxi backward. The mess hall was near the bottom end of the runway and I remember one day a 202 took off uphill towards the ice cap and he must have had 500 feet of altitude when he passed the mess hall. We had a good breeze that day.
My TDY ended the 16th of January 1949 when I flew out on the AACS B-17, 6900. We lost the cabin heat before we left the mouth of the Fjord. However it was all a very enjoyable and learning experience.
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