Operation Christmas Drop: Behind the scenes
ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- The longest running humanitarian aid/disaster relief has kicked off on Andersen Air Force Base, Guam on Dec. 6. In order for the mission to come to fruition, months of hard work went into making it happen.
Operation Christmas Drop has been ongoing since 1952 and has impacted more than 20,000 islanders annually.
This year, 376 volunteers assisted in gathering donations for islanders spread across it’s islands.
“We raised over $50,000 for the cause” said Tech. Sgt. Oliver Abraham, Operation Christmas Drop committee member. “It’s amazing that all of this time and effort is going to have a lasting effect on the folks we are pushing these boxes too.”
The Christmas Drop committee also partnered with local businesses to garner building supplies and other necessities.
“After we received the donations, we had teams from Andersen and Yokota sort items and rig each box with a parachute,” Abraham said. “All the boxes have a little bit of everything in them. That way, those receiving them will get a taste of everything.”
Once the boxes are ready, teams from the 734th Air Mobility Squadron and 36th Airlift Squadron load the boxes onto pallets to prepare them to be airdropped from a C-130 cargo aircraft.
The teams packaged 30-40 thousand pounds of clothes, rice, fish hooks and more. and over 200 people assisted in packing all of the items in a pallet.
C-130s from the 36th Airlift Squadron from Yokota Air Base, Japan and Royal Australian Air Force, the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force came to participate.
“This is a unique year for Christmas Drop,” Bowens said. “For the first time we are having three services and three nations participate. Christmas Drop is primarily known as a training exercise, but when you can give back in such a way by incorporating the training, I think it’s probably one of the best highlights of my career.”
All the preparation culminates to crews flying to over 50 plus islands throughout the pacific and drop boxes to the local islanders.
“I'm really excited to help preserve this 65 year tradition of extending help to our island neighbors,” said Tech. Sgt. Marc Spangler, Christmas Drop committee member. “Knowing that everything we collected over the year will help these people; makes everything worth the time and effort put forth by everyone involved."