Military Service Goose Bay, Labrador

Lou Kugell is the husband of friend of mine. Still I was a little weary about asking him if I could interview him for the OLLI Veterans Project. He readily agreed and told me he served in the USAF from 1959 to 1962 and he was last stationed at Goose Bay, Labrador working as a mechanic.

“When I took the placement test, it showed I had good interpersonal skills. The person who administered the test said that I would end up sitting behind a desk for four years.

“After all the training at Lackland Air Base in Texas and Portsmouth Naval Station in Virginia, I was sent to Goose Bay in the province of Labrador and Newfoundland and told to get a tool kit and start fixing. I wasn’t strictly on my own. There was supervision and training and I soon felt comfortable with what I was doing.

“This assignment was as part of the Strategic Air Command, 8th Bomber Division.”

This interview was held in early December. My mechanic friend said that the weather at Goose Bay was incredibly cold. I checked the weather for December 4, 2012 and it was -12 C or about 10.4 F. Remember winter officially begins on December 21st. It snows more than 16 days in January and total snowfall accumulation is 180 inches.

“Not surprisingly there was a high suicide rate and a good deal of drinking. Even those who rarely drank at home drank heavily here trying to live with both the desolation and the cold.

“While I was at Goose Bay, the eyes of the world were on Cuba and the failed Bay of Pigs invasion.

“I was lucky because while I was in Goose Bay, my term was running out. I qualified by one day! If I had more time to serve I would have been sent to another Air Force base. I’d count myself extremely lucky because I had a wife and a daughter living with my parents and waiting for me to come home.”

When I asked him about making friends in the service, he said that he still emails a friend that had taught at Seaton Hall College and he lost another friend last year, “Just think we have been friends for half a century”.

“My job at Goose Bay lead me to my current job of selling auto parts.”

Lou Kugell
Interviewed by Evelyn Marshak
Waterbury, CT © 2012

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