ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- The 68th iteration of Operation Christmas Drop is set to take to the Pacific skies, Dec. 9 hosted by the 36th Wing.
The Department of Defense’s longest recurring humanitarian mission is a long-standing annual tradition of packaging and delivering food, tools and toys to more than 57 remote islands in the South-Eastern Pacific, including the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, and the Republic of Palau.
During the week-long international charity effort, Pacific Air Forces airpower ambassadors from Andersen AFB, Guam, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii and Yokota Air Base, Japan, will work with their partners of the Japanese, Australian and, for the first time, New Zealand air forces and includes observers from Bangladesh, Malaysia, Mongolia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand to execute low-cost, low-altitude training air drops. The aerial delivery will serve as valuable interoperability training for the partner nations while delivering various donations provided by private donors, charitable organizations and the University of Guam.
The tradition began during the Christmas season in 1952 when a B-29 Superfortress aircrew saw islanders waving at them from Kapingamarangi atoll, 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. Operation Christmas Drop includes Airmen and assets from the 374th Airlift Wing, Yokota Air Base, Japan; the 36th Wing, Andersen Air Force Base, Guam; 734th Air Mobility Squadron, Andersen AFB, the 515th Air Mobility Operations Wing, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii; the University of Guam; and the 'Operation Christmas Drop' private organization which leads the fundraising and donations for the operation. Andersen is used as a "base camp" to airlift the donated goods to islanders throughout Micronesia.
Utilizing the Denton Program, which allows private U.S. citizens and organizations to use space available on U.S. military cargo planes to transport humanitarian goods to countries in need, the C-130J Super Hercules crews airdrop food, supplies, educational materials, and toys to islanders throughout the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas, Federated States of Micronesia, and Republic of Palau. These islands are some of the most remote locations on the globe spanning a distance nearly as broad as the continental U.S.
Months leading up the drop dates, volunteers create donation drop-off boxes and raise money from local businesses and citizens. A week before the drop, volunteer Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, civilians, contractors and families assist in picking up and sorting the donations. After the goods are sorted, riggers from Yokota and Andersen volunteers build dozens of boxes to hold the materials, most containing school supplies, clothing, rice, fishing equipment and toys.
Each year, the Christmas drops serve as a proving ground for the techniques used and shared with regional partners in preparation for response to natural disasters all too common across this region.
Air crews are linked to the village via ham radio as they fly overhead and drop supplies. The event provides readiness training to participating aircrew, allowing them to gain experience in conducting airdrops while providing critical supplies to 56 Micronesian islands impacting about 20,000 people.
Low-Cost Low-Altitude (LCLA) airdrop is cost-efficient and easy to apply across the global airlift community, utilizing readily available resources and repurposed personnel parachutes to build supply pallets at a fraction of the cost of other airdrop bundles. These pallets are dropped at low-altitude to improve drop accuracy.
Demonstrating and executing LCLA drops alongside regional allies is just one example of the USAF actively pursuing and participating in interoperability partner training to increase Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Relief operational capabilities while ensuring stability in the Indo- Pacific region.
Nearly seven decades and more than 1 million pounds of charitable goods later, the 2019 missions are set to carry on this tradition of international goodwill.
Media opportunities include:
On Dec. 7, media are invited to attend a bundle building and packing event, where service members and their families will load pallets with donated goods to be airdropped.
On Dec. 8, media are invited to fly aboard military aircraft to capture airdrop imagery.
On Dec. 9, media are invited to attend the Push Ceremony marking the start of OCD 2019.
Please RSVP specifying which events you request to attend by Nov. 30. In order to facilitate base access and flightline photography approval, media representatives are required to send a completed media credentialing application via email to the 36th Wing Public Affairs at firstname.lastname@example.org no later than Dec. 3. Non US citizens are also required to submit a foreign visitor questionnaire. Those wishing to fly aboard military aircraft are required to submit a health screening questionnaire.
1.US Citizens - Media Credentials Application Only
2.Foreign Citizens living on Guam - Media Credentials Application & Foreign Visitor Questionnaire
3.Health Screening Questionnaire – All wishing to fly aboard military aircraft
For more information on Operation Christmas Drop, please visit http://www.andersen.af.mil/ocd/.
If you are unable to attend, DoD captured imagery from the events will be made available on the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service (DVIDS) website https://www.dvidshub.net/feature/OperationChristmasDrop2019
To view Operation Christmas Drop photos, videos, and articles from 2018, visit: https://www.dvidshub.net/feature/ChristmasDrop2018 or http://www.andersen.af.mil/ocd/