Operation Christmas Drop: Tales from the Tail

By Senior Airman Robert Hicks

From 36th Wing Public Affairs

ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam  - The men and women from Team Andersen, Yokota Air Base, Japan, the University of Guam, the local community and charitable organizations provided more than 39,000 pounds of humanitarian supplies to islanders during Operation Christmas Drop from Dec. 11-18.

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PACIFC OCEAN (Dec. 18, 2012) - A bundle carrying humanitarian supplies and gifts drifts to the ground off the shore an island in Micronesia. C-130 Hercules crews from Yokota Air Base, Japan, flew missions out of Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, airlifting the donated bundles to islands in need as part of Operation Christmas Drop. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Samuel Morse)

Fifty-four islands, which included Chuuk, Palau, Yap, Marshall Islands and Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, benefitted from the drop that consisted of toys, clothing, fishing equipment, sporting goods, food items, tools and other items that would make their day-to-day life easier.

"This gives us a chance to give them much needed equipment that they don't have access to," said Master Sgt. Cameron Leslie, 36th Force Support Squadron career assistant advisor. "In a sense, these items are Christmas presents, but also helps their livelihood."

Long before the C-130 Hercules soar into the sky to execute OCD, Airmen and volunteers come together for several packing sessions to prepare each box to be dropped.

"The time and dedication that people are willing to give is astounding," said Capt. Mitchell Foy, president of the OCD committee. "It's amazing watching everyone come together to make this humanitarian effort happen."

"It's probably the most humbling experience of my life," continued Captain Foy.
As Christmas Drop operates on its 61st year, it remains the longest-running humanitarian effort in the DoD.

"When we all signed up to join the military, it was about service, not only service to our country, but service to the world," said Col. David Gould, 374th Operations Group commander. "There are a few operations on this planet that demonstrates as much commitment to service as Operation Christmas Drop."

Last year, Sergeant Leslie took a 13-day trip to Falalop Island to get a perspective from the islanders' point of view.

"They're very much appreciative of Christmas Drop, and they value our relationship," Sergeant Leslie said. "For them, the idea that we take time out of all the things we do to put something together for them is amazing."

Since December 1952 Airmen and volunteers have been spreading the holiday cheer to surrounding islands. What was a small crew packing what they could in a small canister and dropping it down on a parachute has turned into numerous volunteers having the opportunity to spread the holiday spirit by pushing tons of presents from the back of a C-130 and sharing their own tales from the tail.

This article was originally published at: http://www.andersen.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123330440

— USPACOM (posted December 19, 2012) —