The year was 1976. I was a senior English major at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana. Like most of my colleagues, I had two distinct attributes; I was madly in love and I was unemployable. My Uncle, Rodney Gray, called me in early spring.
Do you have a job lined up? he asked.
No, I answered.
Do you want one?
Uncle Rodney was famous, or infamous, for a career that took him everywhere. Someday Ill post a small remembrance about him. His life was fascinating. The important things to note here are that his was my only job prospect and I agreed to go to Greenland in August 1976.
My title was console operator, shorthand for a civilian who monitors electronic surveillance equipment for hours, hoping nothing happens. My employer was Felec Services Inc. (FSI) of Colorado Springs. Uncle Rodney was president of FSI, which was owned by giant conglomerate ITT through its subsidiary, Federal Electric Corporation. The purpose of the DEW Line was to watch for Soviet bombers and monitor friendly air traffic north of the Arctic Circle. In Greenland, shifts lasted 12 hours, seven days a week, for three months. I served at two icecap stations - DYE 3 and DYE 2 - and coastal station DYE 4, on Kulusuk Island. The DYE Sector was named for nearby Cape Dyer, Canada, the location of our 'Main' Station, through which most of our communications flowed.
In 1977, after a month off, I was transferred to Alaska where I served at POW 1, POW 2, LIZ 3, LIZ 2 and BAR Main. The differences between Greenland and Alaska were huge. Not just the geography, but the cultures, weather, auroras, and work life were very different. I enjoyed both. I preferred Greenland.
The DEW Line was retired between 1986 and 1992. Tracking duties were assumed by more technologically capable automated systems installed at some of the old DEW Line sites and supplemented by the massive Ballistic Missile Early Warning System (BMEWS) stations, four in all, located in Alaska, Canada, Greenland and England. Except for those converted to automated duty, DEW Line stations in Alaska were sealed and abandoned. DYE 4 (and probably DYE 1) was torn down circa 1992. DYE sites 2 and 3 are slowly being buried by snow.
Three links greet you at the bottom of this page. The one called 'DEW Line' will take you to the web page of Retired Canadian Air Force Officer Larry Wilson, a great chronicler of North America's amazing arctic military presence from the 1950s forward. Photos I took of DYE 4 and accompanying commentary are there. You'll also find great DEW Line pictures and information from others.
The final two links take you to my pictures of the DEW Line
stations and places I served and visited in Greenland and Alaska.
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