||DYE 3, my first & worst assignment. I was 22,
independent, and the proud nephew of the president of the company.
Among his many failings, the DYE 3 station chief tried secretly
to organize the Greenland Sector for the International Brotherhood
of Electrical Workers (IBEW). A good ole boy from Alabama who enjoyed
too many carbo-loaded meals, this fellow also was a DEW Line lifer
with little patience for legality or rules that werent his.
The station, all 12 of us, was organized into cliques. One either
worked actively to support (and was rewarded for) whatever the
Chief wanted or stayed out of the way and meekly followed orders.
I did neither. The eruption came after I actively foiled an organizing
conference call among the four DYE Sector sites. After threatening
to have me hauled out of the station and onto the snow, the Chief
shipped me back to Sondrestrom and worked hard to have me fired.
Because of my Uncle, of course, the attempt at termination had
short legs. The Sector guys sent me to DYE 4, where people looked
sideways at me for awhile, then left me alone.
||DYE 2: I was transferred to icecap station DYE 2
from DYE 4 to provide console orientation to a new radician who
had recently graduated, as I had earlier, from the DEW Line training
center in Steator, Illinois. Streator was known only for a glass
bottle plant operated by DOW Corning and a thriving business in
24-hour bars. A rough spot, but I digress. I was reluctant to leave
the freedom and beauty of DYE 4 for a return to the ice, but found
DYE 2 a fun and different, if crowded, multicultural stew. The
station was full of Danish construction workers on hand to extend
our columnar stilts and jack up the station to the
required 30 feet above accumulating ice and snow, an operation
that took place at DYE sites 2 and 3 every 10 to 15 years. In the
picture, you can see plywood enclosures around the columns. The
rooms inside protected workers from the elements. The sheet metal
tube in the foreground was used to extend the vertical access tunnel
to the Station fuel depot buried deep beneath the surface. This
shot also shows the excavation bucket that descended regularly
to retrieve snow & ice for melting in the Station water chamber.
This was our only source of water. To the right, also attached
to the building, one can see the only entrance to the station -
a very long ladder descending diagonally to the surface. I contracted
frostbite on my ungloved (yes, this was dumb) right hand while
using the metal railing to haul myself and a mail bag into DYE
||Every night was a party, with massive Danish workers
(theyre seriously big people) crowding the Station bar to
guzzle an unlimited supply of Carlsberg. While in the bathroom
one night, I heard snores emanating from a nearby stall. Seated
there was a drunk Danish worker asleep on the commode.
||The DYE 2 generator room. Each icecap station was
a miracle, a self-contained universe sustained by the best 1950s
technology America could offer.
A C-130 turbo prop outfitted with arctic skis off-loads supplies,
including fuel oil in this shot, outside DYE 2.
||A Twin-Otter spins its props for take-off and my
return to Sonde from DYE 2.
||So desolate. DYE 2 fades into the distance as I say
goodbye from the window of a plane wisking me to Sonde.
Trackmasters like this one ferried personnel to and from supply
planes, the station and the maintenance garage in bad weather.