Christmas Drop: 58 years of cheer and aid
Airman 1st Class Anthony Jennings
by Airman 1st Class Anthony Jennings
36th Wing Public Affairs
11/29/2010 - Andersen Air Force Base, Guam - -- In this region of the Pacific, Santa doesn't fly with 12 reindeer or climb down the chimney to deliver gifts. He drops them from hundreds of feet in the air from the back of a C-130 Hercules.
The Air Force plans to deliver 60 pallets of gifts to about 50 islands to help support Guam's neighbors during Operation Christmas Drop, a four-day airdrop mission which delivers donated supplies and gifts to those in need. Christmas Drop donation boxes will stay in place until Dec. 8 with flights scheduled to run from Dec. 13 to 17.
"Many people around the world anxiously wait for December in order to celebrate Christmas," said Col. Tod Fingal, 36th Wing vice commander. "However, for many men, women and children living across the Pacific, Christmas begins when they see the U.S. Air Force overhead. Many of the remote, Pacific islands have little to no contact with the outside world, and the islands' inhabitants depend on Operation Christmas Drop for much needed supplies."
"It is truly inspiring to see Team Andersen's and the local community's level of generosity in donating much needed supplies to people they have never met," he continued.
Operation Christmas Drop is a nonprofit organization powered by volunteers from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, and the local community that have to date dropped more than 800,000 pounds of goods throughout the islands since operation Christmas Drop's inception.
This year marks the 58th anniversary of Operation Christmas Drop, making it the longest-running airdrop mission in the history of the Air Force.
The Christmas tradition started in 1952 when WB-50 aircraft from the 54th Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, formerly assigned to Andersen, was flying a mission south of Guam. As the aircraft passed over one of the islands, the crew saw islanders waving to them. The crew gathered miscellaneous items from the plane, put the items in a container, attached it to a parachute and dropped the cargo as they circled around again.
That small gesture of kindness, which started with just one box, has now grown into an island-wide effort to help make Christmas merry for those less fortunate.
Today, the men and women of the U.S. Air Force, the University of Guam, media, local government, business, professional and charitable organizations work together to collect cash and merchandise to deliver toys, clothing, fishing equipment, food items and tools to remote islands and atolls in the area.