Members of the U.S. Air Force, Navy, and Coast Guard are bringing some Christmas cheer and much-needed supplies to people on remote islands throughout Micronesia during the 66th annual Operation Christmas Drop. Making passes over dozens of the small islands, Airmen push crates with parachutes out the back of C-130J aircraft. Inside the crates are items such as food, clothing, fishing equipment, toys for children, and even school supplies.
The humanitarian effort is conducted through a partnership with the U.S. Air Force, Navy, and Coast Guard, the non-profit organization Operation Christmas Drop and the University of Guam, as well as the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force and Royal Australian Air Force.
“Operation Christmas Drop is the Department of Defense’s longest-running humanitarian airlift operation,” says Andersen Air Force Base. “The tradition began during the Christmas season in 1952 when a B-29 Superfortress aircrew saw islanders waving at them from the island of Kapingamarangi, 3,500 miles southwest of Hawaii. In the spirit of Christmas the aircrew dropped a bundle of supplies attached to a parachute to the islanders below, giving the operation its name. Today, air drop operations include more than 50 islands throughout the Pacific.”
It’s a way for the Armed Forces bring Christmas and help to those who would otherwise be without.
“What started with one bundle and one island has grown into an immense tradition of goodwill and partnership that has impacted the residents of more than 50 surrounding areas,” said Col. Scott Hurrelbrink, 36th Wing vice commander. “Operation Christmas Drop goes well beyond the reach of this magnificent island, because it connects the military. It connects our civilians and communities, alike.”
With incredible precision, the USAF Airmen push the large crates out of the back of a flying C-130J and watch them parachute down to be opened by the native people on the Pacific islands. Members of the Navy and Coast Guard also help with the deliveries.
According to the Navy, Operation Christmas Drop 2017 will deliver packages to remote areas in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, and the Republic of Palau.
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“We are truly humbled with the relationship Andersen (AFB) shares with the men and women of Yokota Air Base, our Andersen (AFB)-based air mobility command unit, the 734th Air Mobility Squadron, and our international partners,” said Col. Hurrelbrink. “While the training missions are conducted by maintenance and operations, it’s important to emphasize that this is truly a joint endeavor that includes raising awareness and collecting donations from the local community right here on Guam.”
Whether fighting for freedom or providing humanitarian aid around the world, the members of the United States military never cease doing amazing things!
We at The Veterans Site hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!
Watch the kick-off of Operation Christmas Drop 2017 in the video below!
Click to the next page to see how the National Guard helped Santa Claus get to remote villages in Alaska!
Jacob H. is an award-winning journalist and photojournalist who currently resides is West Michigan with his wife. In his spare time, Jacob enjoys writing, photography, mountain climbing, and camping.