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Published: August 7th 2011
Norwegian minesweeper following its escort ship
The committee visited a Norwegian naval base located in a large cave
1 June 1985 Saturday. The committee members, the NATO International Staff, and their spouses met at the military side of Zaventum airport to catch a C-130 cargo plane to Gaardemoen Air Base just north of Oslo. There we refueled for another long flight to Tromso, high above the Arctic Circle in northern Norway. It is as far to fly from Oslo to the North Cape as it is from Oslo to Rome. Tromso is near the North Cape.
We arrived late afternoon, but it could have been early afternoon judging by the sun's height above the horizon. We enjoyed walking around this seaport town during its best season, with 24 hours a day of sunlight.
2 June 1985 Sunday. We started the day with the official tour of Tromso. We got to know our escort officer very well; when he was ready for us to board the bus for the next stop he would yell "Embarcation!" That would be our insiders' code word for many future Infrastructure Committee visits to the other host nations.
Our first stop was to take a cable car to the top of a high mountain across the fjord from Tromso. There we got
a spectacular view of the city, and watched hang gliders launch themselves into space. We could see the city cathedral far below, which would be our next destination. It reminded me of the Air Force Academy Chapel, which is also A-frame and has a beautiful stain glass window. I wondered whether it also leaked. We learned about the conditions of living year around in Northern Norway where in winter there is 24 hours of darkness which causes severe depression due to the lack of daylight. The Norwegian government gives tax benefits and other incentives for people to live there.
By late morning we boarded a Norwegian Navy minesweeper to go to a naval base that had been carved out of a fjord mountain side. On the way there we were provided fishing poles to catch our lunch. Linda caught the largest fish...must run in her genes as her father was an avid fisherman. Fortunately, our hosts had not counted on us to be good fisherman, because when we went below to eat, they had prepared pots of steamed spice shrimp. After lunch we visited the naval base carved into the steep rock walls of a fjord. We then returned
to Tromso for the night.
3 June 1985 Monday. We flew on a C-130 to Evenes Air Base where we received a briefing on the plans to expand the base for hardened aircraft shelters. After a tour of the base we then took buses down the coast to a disembarcation facility where reinforcing forces could land. We then returned to Evenes and flew to Bodo Air Base. We toured the base that had originally been built by the Germans in WWII, including tunnels to hide their fighter aircraft. Now it was used to shelter NATO aircraft.
We then were taken to the SAS Hotel, a high rise hotel in Bodo. Linda was starting to suffer from morning sickness, despite the fact that it was evening. Perhaps the midnight sun was confusing her system. While the rest of us had a great dinner in the restaurant on the top floor, I had room service take something that she could stomach to our room. After dinner we took over the bar, and danced the night away...actually only to 1 pm so that we could witness the sun approach its lowest point and then start to rise again over the Lofoten
4 June 1985 Tuesday. We flew from Bodo to an airport at the far end of the Trondheimsfjord to visit a prepositioned storage facility, an extensive cave system also carved out of rock, to be used to store equipment for a division of U.S. Marines who would reinforce this area should Norway be attcked. We had a tour of the caves, and then drove along the fjord towards Trondheim, stopping at the train station in Hell for pictures. We arrived in Trondheim by late afternoon and checked into our hotel. We had the evening free to explore.
5 June 1985 Wednesday. We started the day with a tour of the town. Unfortunately, the tour guide was a little old lady who concentrated on telling about her experiences with the Germans during WWII. It soon got to be too much for Sylvia, the spouse of Frank of the German Delegation to NATO. She burst out crying. Our hosts were quick to rectify the situation and comforted Sylvia, who is absolutely the sweetest person in the world...as is Frank. (Note: We had been invited to their home for dinner, as is the custom among the committee members. What was
always confusig was the dress code...casual means many things. I called ahead to see what Frank was wearing. We were the only two wearing pullover sweaters. When Frank and Sylvia came to our home for dinner, he forgot to mention that he was alergic to fish. Linda had prepared Thai food, which if nothing else is full of fish sauce. We had to quickly come up with plan B for him).
Back to our tour. We ended up at the Trondheim Fortress and its vicinity which serves as a NATO headquarters, and were given briefings, and shown the museum. We stayed the night in Trondheim where we were hosted for dinner by the Norwegian command.
6 June 1985 Thursday. We flew to Oslo where the committee was given briefings at the Ministry of Defense. In the afternoon we all met at at he wharf in front of city hall to catch a Norwegian Navy boat to the Fram and Kontiki Ships Museums on the Oslo Fjord.
Upon our arrival we were greeted by peace demonstrators, who had obviously been tipped off by someone on the inside as to our schedule. We were all for peace, too. We
just happened to believe that our nations had to be prepared to fight for our liberty. As it turned out a few years later the Soviet Union decided they couldn't match us in defense spending so called a halt to the arms race.
After visitng the museums we had a tour of the West Fjord, before returning to our hotel for the evening.
7 June 1985 Friday. We visited other installations in the Oslo area along with Frogner Park and other cultural sights before returning to the hotel at mid afternoon to prepare for that evening. The committee and their spouses were invited to dinner with the Minister of Defense. Linda was feeling sick again, so declined the invitation. I made sure that she had something to eat provided by room service before I went to the black tie dinner.
8 June 1985 Saturday. We flew back to Brussels.
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