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Operation Julemand: The gift of giving

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Jazmin Smith
  • Space Base Delta 1 Public Affairs

As the U.S. Space Force’s northernmost remote installation settles into a new year, it carries on a tradition dating back over 60 years. 

Surrounded by a tundra of ice and snow in sub-zero temperatures, Airmen and Guardians gather as elves for Operation Julemand, Danish for “Christmas Man,” at Thule Air Base, Greenland.  

The nine-month endeavor involves fundraising, collecting gifts for children and joining in community festivities. This year, over 160 Greenlandic children received presents in the four villages in the Thule district: Qaanaaq, Savissivik, Siorapaluk, and Qeqertatin. 

The fundraiser begins as early as March when they get ready for Greenlandic Heritage Week and runs through end of summer. By fall, after the total for donations is calculated, the team meets with the school principal and designated village representatives to determine how many gifts they can order to supplement any donated items. In November, they hold the wrapping party and airlift the gifts to the villages. In December, the community holds a celebration where members at Thule are invited to join in.   

The council also supports children and youth charities, and purchases items for the community, but may expand as the executive council determines.  

“[The council] coordinates the gifts and organizes a base event with all active-duty members and contractors to wrap up the gifts to get them ready to be sent out to the villages,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jordan Belen, 821st Support Squadron NCO in charge of career development.  

“This year, we were able to fundraise more money to purchase gifts for all the kids in different grades, to include supplies for the schools and sport equipment for the villages,” added Belen. 

Thule AB is home to several units under Space Base Delta 1 at Peterson Space Force Base, Colorado. Each year, several members rotate out, however the tradition is kept alive by each succession to connect with one another and the locals. 

“It affords our Airmen and Guardians the opportunity to experience the pure joy of giving by seeing the happy faces of so many children in the local Greenlandic villages,” said USSF Col. Brian Capps, 821st Space Base Group commander. “This event also gives our members a stronger sense of connection both here at Team Thule and to the Greenlandic community as a whole. The need to give and the need to connect are so important to all of us during the holiday season.”    

Operation Julemand provides a great opportunity to share the holiday season with their friends and partners in the local community and only serves to strengthen the relationship going forward, added Capps. 

"I am very proud to be a member of such a selfless and dedicated Team,” stated Capps. “It is always an honor to serve, but these kinds of events only reinforce what makes serving here at Thule Air Base so very special.”