Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Stories From Red Cliff: Aloha

Red Cliff photo by the Conservation Corps Green Team 2007
Construction at the American Air Force Radar Station at Red Cliff started in 1951, and the base was operational from 1954 until 1962. The facility was one of a number of radar stations throughout North America and Greenland which were called the Pine Tree Line. The purpose of the Pine Tree Line was to act as a defence system against enemy aircraft. Gander, Goose Bay and Argentia were all part of this defence system. Their goal was to protect North America from potential invasion, and day-to-day operations at Red Cliff involved contacting and identifying all incoming aircraft to Newfoundland airspace, directing said aircraft to Gander or Torbay, facilitating distress calls and aiding the Coast Guard search and rescue efforts, and being at the ready in case of unidentified aircraft needing to be escorted or intercepted.
Red Cliff photo by the Conservation Corps Green Team 2007

Red Cliff was a semi-remote, self-sufficient base constructed on an exposed area of the coast in what is now Logy Bay-Middle Cove-Outer cove. When it was fully operational, Red Cliff had a contingent of between 120 and 160 military personnel and over one hundred civilian workers. Many of the military personnel came from much favourable climates, and found the harsh weather of Newfoundland to be a shock.
Red Cliff photo by the Conservation Corps Green Team 2007

This letter was found in our archives. It is from Jeremiah “Jerry” Alapai Pahukula who served at Red Cliff for 1 year and 8 months as a radar operator. During his time at Red Cliff, he met and married Ellen Margaret Roche. They were married on April 24, 1961. Since leaving Red Cliff in 1961, Jerry returned three times, and noted that “All of the buildings are gone now; site is now overgrown with bushes”.

My name is Jeremiah PAHUKULA. I am of Hawaiian-Japanese ancestry, and I live in the state of Hawaii, USA.
My wife is Ellen Margaret PAHUKULA, nee ROCHE, born and raised in Logy Bay and now living in Hawaii.
I was a member of the U.S. Air Force and my tour of duty at Red Cliff Air Force Station began on December 13, 1959. the date sticks in my mind because it was my 20th birthday.
Prior to coming to NFLD, I was stationed in California. When I got my orders to transfer to Newfoundland, I wondered, “where in the world is NFLD?” I had not heard of this New Found Land before that order to transfer there. When I did find out where it was, I thought, “wow that’s snow country.” I was not disappointed. There was snow on the ground the day that I got here. Later, throughout my first night on Red Cliff, a snow storm came. There was 6-7’ snow drifts blocking the front door of my barracks. Being the newest member of my work crew, I was assigned to shovel all the snow and clear the sidewalk to the barracks. What a cultural shock it was. From Hawaii’s sun, sand and sea to 6-7’ snowdrifts. And this was only my first full day in NFLD. I spend 20 months here.

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