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Greenland Heritage Week at Thule Air Base

U.S. Space Force Capt. Kimberly Garcia, 12th Space Warning Squadron operations flight commander and her dogsled team pass U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Trevor Derr, 821st Support Squadron transient alert technician and his team during the Greenlandic Heritage Week Dogsled Race at Thule Air Base, Greenland, March 29, 2021. Garcia and Derr were selected along with 15 other Thule AB members to take part in the Thule AB Dogsled Race. Thule AB hosts a variety of organizations with logistical support in the Arctic, including NASA, the Royal Canadian Air Force and the National Science Foundation climatic, seismic and deep space research.  (U.S. Space Force Photo by Master Sgt. Trevor Derr)

U.S. Space Force Capt. Kimberly Garcia, 12th Space Warning Squadron operations flight commander and her dogsled team pass U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Trevor Derr, 821st Support Squadron transient alert technician and his team during the Greenlandic Heritage Week Dogsled Race at Thule Air Base, Greenland, March 29, 2021. Garcia and Derr were selected along with 15 other Thule AB members to take part in the Thule AB Dogsled Race. Thule AB hosts a variety of organizations with logistical support in the Arctic, including NASA, the Royal Canadian Air Force and the National Science Foundation climatic, seismic and deep space research. (U.S. Space Force Photo by Master Sgt. Trevor Derr)

Four-month-old puppies take an afternoon nap on their dogsled during Greenlandic Heritage Week at Thule Air Base, Greenland, March 29, 2021. One the biggest events of Greenlandic Heritage Week is the annual dogsled race which has been held for 40 years. Thule AB provides for NATO partner trans-shipment and resupply of Canadian and Danish bases; and long-distance flight training and critical emergency medical support to the entire northwest landmass of Greenland, nearby sea-lanes and civilian aircraft. (U.S. Space Force Photo by Master Sgt. Trevor Derr)

Four-month-old puppies take an afternoon nap on their dogsled during Greenlandic Heritage Week at Thule Air Base, Greenland, March 29, 2021. One the biggest events of Greenlandic Heritage Week is the annual dogsled race which has been held for 40 years. Thule AB provides for NATO partner trans-shipment and resupply of Canadian and Danish bases; and long-distance flight training and critical emergency medical support to the entire northwest landmass of Greenland, nearby sea-lanes and civilian aircraft. (U.S. Space Force Photo by Master Sgt. Trevor Derr)

The sun peeks over a mountain onto Dundas village as one of the Greenlandic visitors during Greenlandic Heritage Week feeds his team of dogs at Thule Air Base, Greenland, March 29, 2021. Greenlandic Heritage Week is a multi-national annual event offered completely free to local villagers with support from the Danish Officer Liaison, Danish Police Inspector, Vectrus Services Corporation and 821st Air Base Group. Thule AB is located 750 miles north of the Arctic Circle, where it provides an important view of the northern hemisphere in order to defend our nation’s critical infrastructure, and maintain the safe and responsible use of space. (U.S. Space Force Photo by Master Sgt. Trevor Derr)

The sun peeks over a mountain onto Dundas village as one of the Greenlandic visitors during Greenlandic Heritage Week feeds his team of dogs at Thule Air Base, Greenland, March 29, 2021. Greenlandic Heritage Week is a multi-national annual event offered completely free to local villagers with support from the Danish Officer Liaison, Danish Police Inspector, Vectrus Services Corporation and 821st Air Base Group. Thule AB is located 750 miles north of the Arctic Circle, where it provides an important view of the northern hemisphere in order to defend our nation’s critical infrastructure, and maintain the safe and responsible use of space. (U.S. Space Force Photo by Master Sgt. Trevor Derr)

Qaerngaq Nielsen, a winner of the Greenlandic Heritage Week dogsled race, poses with U.S. Air Force Col. David Hanson, left, 821st Air Base Group commander and U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Micah Graves, right, 821st Security Forces Squadron chief enlisted manager, at the Dundas Dining Facility, Thule Air Base, Greenland, April 4, 2021. Nielsen, who lives in Savissivik, Greenland, has been attending Greenlandic Heritage Week for nearly 40 years and has won the dogsled race eight times.  (U.S. Space Force photo by Lt. Col. Christopher Ivarone)

Qaerngaq Nielsen, a winner of the Greenlandic Heritage Week dogsled race, poses with U.S. Air Force Col. David Hanson, left, 821st Air Base Group commander and U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Micah Graves, right, 821st Security Forces Squadron chief enlisted manager, at the Dundas Dining Facility, Thule Air Base, Greenland, April 4, 2021. Nielsen, who lives in Savissivik, Greenland, has been attending Greenlandic Heritage Week for nearly 40 years and has won the dogsled race eight times. (U.S. Space Force photo by Lt. Col. Christopher Ivarone)

Marcus Hansen, sled driver,  leads the dogsled rides during Greenlandic Heritage Week at North Star Bay, near Thule Air Base, Greenland, April 4, 2021. Despite two major storms, the base hosted its annual dog sled race, which awarded the top three winners with a rifle, sled tent and a generator, respectively. Thule AB is located on the northwest coast of Greenland, 700 miles north of the Arctic Circle and approximately 946 miles from the North Pole. It operates the Department of Defense's northernmost deep-water seaport as well as a 10,000-foot runway and associated airfield. (U.S. Space Force photo by Lt. Col. Christopher Ivarone)

Marcus Hansen, sled driver, leads the dogsled rides during Greenlandic Heritage Week at North Star Bay, near Thule Air Base, Greenland, April 4, 2021. Despite two major storms, the base hosted its annual dog sled race, which awarded the top three winners with a rifle, sled tent and a generator, respectively. Thule AB is located on the northwest coast of Greenland, 700 miles north of the Arctic Circle and approximately 946 miles from the North Pole. It operates the Department of Defense's northernmost deep-water seaport as well as a 10,000-foot runway and associated airfield. (U.S. Space Force photo by Lt. Col. Christopher Ivarone)

Nuka, middle, 11 years old, poses for a photo with U.S. Air Force Col. David Hanson 821st Air Base Group commander and William Womack, base contract director, after receiving a sled tent as one of the winners of the dogsled races held at North Star Bay, Thule Air Base, Greenland, April 4, 2021. Nuka was the youngest of 17 dog racers participating in Greenlandic Heritage Week and had a time of 25 minutes. The base invited families from local villages to stay and participate in several events that celebrate their cultural traditions. (U.S. Space Force photo by Lt. Col. Christopher Ivarone)

Nuka, middle, 11 years old, poses for a photo with U.S. Air Force Col. David Hanson 821st Air Base Group commander and William Womack, base contract director, after receiving a sled tent as one of the winners of the dogsled races held at North Star Bay, Thule Air Base, Greenland, April 4, 2021. Nuka was the youngest of 17 dog racers participating in Greenlandic Heritage Week and had a time of 25 minutes. The base invited families from local villages to stay and participate in several events that celebrate their cultural traditions. (U.S. Space Force photo by Lt. Col. Christopher Ivarone)

Marcus Hansen, middle, dogsled race winner, raises his new Savage Arms hunting rifle in victory after receiving it from Danish Police Inspector Fini Carlsen and U.S. Air Force Col. David Hanson, 821st Air Base Group commander, at the Dundas Dining Facility, Thule Air Base, Greenland, April 4, 2021. The base hosted Greenlandic Heritage Week, an annual international relations event spanning more than 40 years, which involves Thule AB and the neighboring villages. Thule AB is the United States’ northernmost and the Department of the Air Force’s largest overseas military installation. (U.S. Space Force photo by Lt. Col. Christopher Ivarone)

Marcus Hansen, middle, dogsled race winner, raises his new Savage Arms hunting rifle in victory after receiving it from Danish Police Inspector Fini Carlsen and U.S. Air Force Col. David Hanson, 821st Air Base Group commander, at the Dundas Dining Facility, Thule Air Base, Greenland, April 4, 2021. The base hosted Greenlandic Heritage Week, an annual international relations event spanning more than 40 years, which involves Thule AB and the neighboring villages. Thule AB is the United States’ northernmost and the Department of the Air Force’s largest overseas military installation. (U.S. Space Force photo by Lt. Col. Christopher Ivarone)

THULE AIR BASE, Greenland --

Far above the Arctic circle, the small community at Thule Air Base holds an annual festival to celebrate the end of their long, dark winter and the arrival of spring. For more than 40 years, the men and women of the 821st Air Base Group have welcomed nearby Greenlanders to “Greenland Heritage Week,” a chance for everyone in Greenland’s far north to get together and share traditions, handicrafts and meals during three days in April. 

Although storms hit Pituffik on Saturday morning, everyone participated in the Greenlandic craft sale on Sunday which generated over 25,000 kroner in profits to the local villages. But the biggest thrill was seeing the annual dogsled race. Marcus Hansen (pictured) won, traveling 10 km in 25 minutes. He beat the 16 other hunters and their teams of dogs, including the youngest participant ever at age 11.

This year, 63 Greenlanders made their way to the Thule AB at Pituffik, including 17 hunters who traveled over the ice by dogsled to compete in the race. 

At 78, the oldest guest was Qaerngaq Nielsen from Savissivik. He’s attended the event almost since the start and is still proud of his record eight consecutive wins in the dogsled race. How did he do it? By shouting “Nanoq!” (Greenlandic for polar bear) to his dogs to make them run faster. A hunter since childhood, he shot his first seal at six and has trained dogs since he was 13 years old. He gave special thanks to the Col. David Hanson, 821st Air Base Group commander, for making the event possible this year, highlighting that the children would have great memories of the event for years to come.   

Thanks to everyone for coming out to Thule AB this year. We can’t wait to see you again next year! 

 

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