Operation Christmas Drop continues as Pacific tradition
ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- Base volunteers will team up with Yokota Air Base, Japan, Airmen to conduct humanitarian airdrops over the remote islands of Micronesia in the Western Pacific this week.
Volunteers here have been spreading the holiday cheer to surrounding islands since December 1952. OCD is the longest running humanitarian airlift mission supported by the Department of Defense.
Teaming up with the Christmas Drop Organization, a private organization of volunteers that directs the fundraising, gathering of donated items, and community involvement activities, U.S. military service members, their family members, and the people of Guam work closely together to ensure a successful mission.
"The yearly success of this drop is a testament to the generosity of the civilian and military population of Guam," said Master Sgt. Bobby Lynch, Operation Christmas Drop committee president. "We continue to do this to help improve the quality of life of the islanders. We may take it for granted that we can go to a mall to purchase our daily needs, but these folks do not have the same privilege from where they live."
OCD packages aid the men and women of more than 50 islands, including Chuuk, Palau, Yap, Marshall Islands and Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Boxes contain toys, clothing, fishing equipment, sporting goods, food items, tools and other equipment that help people in the islands with their livelihood.
"In the spirit of the holiday season, what we can do is help and share what we have," Lynch said.
In addition to collaborating with the community of Guam, OCD demonstrates the inter-wing partnership between Andersen AFB and Yokota.
Each December, C-130 Hercules crews from the 374th Airlift Wing fly to Andersen, which is used as a "base camp" to airlift the donated goods to islanders throughout Micronesia. Yokota aircrews find valuable training opportunities through the unique airdrop environment that OCD offers.
Andersen Christmas Drop volunteers stress the importance the packages have on the daily lives of the Micronesians receiving them.
"This drop cannot happen successfully without the participation of everyone, regardless of which branch you belong to or whether or not you're in the military," Lynch said.