I got a kick out of this story describing how the army test soldiers and equipment in cold weather in Alaska, more specifically Delta Junction and Ft. Greeley. During my four years in Alaska as an Arctic Infantryman, I spent many a sub-zero day and night at Ft. Greeley on FTX. I remember seeing a lone M1 Abrams tank racing up and down the dirt roads at Greeley where they were conducting cold weather tests before deploying the tank. We were told by cadre that the tank was having issues with everything breaking free when firing the main gun in the sub-zero weather. Who knows if it was true but I do remember the incredible, biting cold of the Ft. Greeley, Delta Junction, Bolio Lake area. I recall going out on a movement to contact at 39 degrees below zero and having to use the restroom. Let me tell you, that was not fun! I also remember being at the airfield in a drafty tent waiting to be taken out and the wind chill outside was 70 degrees below. Hard to believe I ever had that in me.
More from the story:
That's why the Army established the test center in 1949, to develop gear that can hold up in the coldest regions of the world. It was a response to World War II, when thousands of U.S. troops sustained cold-weather injuries, such as frostbite, in Europe.
It's the frigid version of several testing sites operating under the Army Test and Evaluation Command in extreme natural settings, including desert and tropic environments, that can significantly affect the performance of soldiers and equipment. Winters here are consistently brutal because mountains to the north and south allow dense arctic air to settle over the landlocked region.
So that is the reason it was so cold. All I knew was that Bolio Lake was one of the coldest places in all of North America and that the nights at Ft. Greeley was often lit up by the sparks created by entrenching tools striking the permanently frozen ground as soldiers tried to dig foxholes. To all past, present and future Arctic Warriors, I tip my hat. I am proud to say that I was one of you.