Reader: Willie Knutsen

A reader writes in about her father, mentioned in a Gazette, hard-copy article, Willie Knutsen; a man who had lived a very interesting, life during the war in the Arctic.

Readers Letter 400x250Dear Ed,

A friend brought me the recent copy of the Seaside Gazette. vol 02 n• o8

A Witness-of-the-Golden-Age article mentioned my father, Willie Knutsen, (referred to as Willy )

Thank you, Martin! He was usually humble about his accomplishments…

Anyone interested in learning more about his explorations can read the book written with my brother, Will Knutsen, Arctic Sun on my Path (The Lyon’s Press) in English and Mitt Arktiss in Norwegian (Grondahl Dreyer).

The National Geographic Magazine May 1953 has an article about Willies’s Arctic Survival School.

Judith Knutsen

(Editorial comment: I have put a link to Willie’s book into Judith’s letter and I have also found this blurb on the back of his book:

ALM Willie KnutsenAs a boy in Oslo, Brooklyn-born Willie Knutsen dreamed of great ships navigating among massive icebergs, sled dogs straining eagerly against their leather harnesses, and the cold arctic sun glinting on vast stretches of inhospitable icy terrain. His dream was to one day become an arctic explorer – a polar man!

In 1936, at the age of twenty-four, Willie set off on an arctic journey that began during the era of wooden ships and crude dogsleds, and ended during the atomic age of nuclear-powered submarines gliding beneath the polar ice. Throughout those years, Willie lived according to his motto: “If you make plans and stick to them, the sun will always be on your path.”

Willie’s life story is filled with adventure. In 1940, a harrowing escape from Nazi-occupied Norway led him first to Greenland, then to America aboard an American coast guard icebreaker. The head of the U.S. Air Force personally invited Willie to join the search and rescue operations for the infamous “Crimson Route,” the World War II flight path from the United States to Europe via Labrador. When the Cold War was in full swing, the military asked Willie to participate in top-secret missions that included commanding “T-3,” an ice island the size of Manhattan that floated around the Arctic Ocean.

Over a period of five years, Willie’s son, Will, listened as his famous father recounted the numerous exploits of his younger years. Arctic Sun on My Path is the fruit of that collaboration. The book comes to life with vivid scenes and intimate insights into other arctic figures, many of them famous, such as Sir Ernest Shackleton; Vilhjalmur Stefansson; Peter Freuchen; Sir Hubert Wilkins; and Bernt Balchen, the first man to fly over the South Pole. Filled with suspense, humor, political intrigue, and human foibles, this is a story of mankind’s search to understand the unknown, and of one man’s realization of his childhood dream.

(Reader’s Letter)

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