A Story Told By Captain Sam Guill, USCG (Retired)

Extracted from We've Been There by Esther Stormer 1992 - Reprinted By Permission

In 1943 at Bluie One (Greenland) we needed a Coast Guard Radio Station so we could communicate directly with our ships without having to go through some Army frequencies that sometimes didn't come through or were not used on our ships. Admiral Willard Smith was Commander with Captain Von Paulson as acting Commander if Smith was absent. It was a communications SNAFU until we got our own radio station. We had maybe 200 Coast Guardsmen on the beach there. The Army Air Force had as many as 3,000 or 4,000 people. 

About that time the Coast Guard sent CDR Davy Cooper, a Public Health Service dentist to Greenland. Davy looked over the Coast Guard facilities and decided he had better identify with the Army. They were very happy to have a dentist and Davy served both the Army and the Coast Guard people in exchange for having facilities at the Army hospital. Davy lived with the doctors and dentists over there. But he would take the noon meal with us at Admiral Smith's quarters.

So on this particular day there was some conversation about the spars arriving for the communications and we'd have to make special preparations for them. As you knew SPARS were the women of the Coast Guard, and we, up in Greenland, had only heard about them. We hadn't seen them. This was a very plausible story, that there were eight SPARS coming to Greenland for communications duty.

On the day the ship came in, the commanding officer (who had been tipped off in advance) had an appointment with Davy. The CO with his mouth full of tools could only agree "..uhu...uh...uh.." Davy said he would sure like to see them. He'd been in Greenland for 18 months and hadn't seen a woman at all.

It was arranged he'd come for lunch. He got all spruced up in his blue uniform, borrowed a car, was driven down so he wouldn't get dusty on the way, and reported on board, identified himself and went on in with the captain.

Davy allowed as how he had really come down to see the SPARS and the Captain said, "sure, I had a report a little while ago that they are sunning themselves on the forward deck." I can't formally introduce you because they aren't commissioned." Davy said, "that's quite all right, I just want to look at them."

They went to the bridge where he could look down on them on the forward deck ...... And there they were; Eight spars.... eight telephone poles for communications.

When Davy got back to the hospital, he was questioned about the SPARS and said, "yes, the SPARS are down there, they are here for communications."

So the word spread.

Soldiers and sailors were drifting down this narrow road trying to get a glimpse of the SPARS. They finally had to put MP's down there to direct traffic.


Return to Coast Guard Stories