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By Lt. Col. Doug Hickey, 821st Air Base Group
/ Published December 10, 2021
The 821st Air Base Group hosted their annual holiday tree-lighting ceremony at Thule Air Base, Greenland, Nov. 12, 2021. Nearly 150 members of Team Thule gathered in sub-zero temperatures to see the lighting of the base tree and star. (U.S. Air Force courtesy photo)
U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Katherine Anderson and U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Zachary Knowles visit with elementary school children in Quaanaaq, Greenland, Nov. 27, 2021. Anderson and Knowles visited the school principal in preparation for Operation Julemand gift delivery during the holiday season. (U.S. Air Force courtesy photo)
U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Emma Weaver, 821st Security Forces Squadron Defender, and U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Nevaeh Steinmetz, 821st SFS Defender, work together to wrap a table filled with gifts for Greenlandic school children at Thule Air Base, Greenland, Nov. 6, 2021. These gifts will be delivered to nearby villages for the holidays as part of Operation Julemand. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. David Svendsen)
Team Thule members work together to organize wrapped gifts in preparation for delivery to local villages at Thule Air Base, Greenland, Nov. 6, 2021. Gifts will be distributed to four local villages and delivered to the local children. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Carlos Ferran)
Team Thule members join together to wrap gifts for local village children at Thule Air Base, Greenland, Nov. 6, 2021. Over 80 volunteers came together and worked in small groups to wrap age appropriate gifts to be delivered for the elementary school children in Quaanaaq, Greenland as part of Operation Julemand. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Carlos Ferran)
Airmen and Guardians of Thule Air Base, Greenland, entered the holiday season with a spirit of giving, exemplified through volunteer events focused on community outreach to local villages. The event provided an opportunity to continue to foster a sense of community across the installation with our Danish, Greenlandic, Canadian and U.S. teammates.
While many things have changed over the last 60 years, the selflessness and generosity of the men and women serving at the top of the world, remains constant and they are honored to continue the proud tradition of giving.
Operation Julemand (Yu-leh-mand), “Santa Claus” in Danish, is an annual Christmas outreach tradition at Thule AB that began in 1959.
Operation Julemand kicked off this season with an initial visit by two team members to the village of Qaanaaq. They met with the school principal and teachers to determine the needs of the children and school for the year.
The annual gift-wrapping party in preparation for Christmas gift deliveries to Qaanaaq and other Greenlandic villages was held on Nov. 6, 2021. The 82 volunteers wrapped gifts totaling $4,500 for 209 children from four villages. Gifts were divided and packaged according to age and gender to provide every child a gift.
Over the next few weeks, the gifts will be flown by helicopter with the help of Air Greenland to Qaanaaq for the children to open during their annual village holiday party. The 821st Air Base Group leadership and Operation Julemand Team will travel to the join the children at their village holiday party and connect with the local community.
In the spirit of the holiday season, the Operation Julemand Team also hosted the annual tree-lighting ceremony. Over 150 members of Team Thule came together in sub-zero temperatures for the annual event; which included an address from U.S. Space Force Col. Heather McGee, 821st ABG commander; readings from religious traditions represented on the installation; visits from Santa, Mrs. Clause and the Thule polar bear; as well as a collective singing of a holiday song.
After the lighting event, members enjoyed hot chocolate, glogg and aebleskiver (mulled wine and a Danish Christmas pastry) provided by Vectrus Services. There was also a table set up for members to write holiday cards to the children of local villages.
The Operation Julemand Team was able to add yet another successful event under their belts, with the hopes of continuing this tradition for many years to come.