ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- For 69 years, the Operation Christmas Drop (OCD) mission has demonstrated America’s goodwill to those with few material resources.
On Dec. 7, Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, also known as Base Camp during OCD, kicked off OCD20 with a “Push Ceremony.”
Due to COVID-19, this year’s operation looks different than in years past. The Department of Foreign Affairs of the Federated States of Micronesia came to a decision to forego their portion of OCD20 due to health concerns. With FSM deciding to forego their drops this year, there is a unique opportunity to provide aid to the citizens of Palau at unprecedented levels. Seven islands in the Republic of Palau will receive 60 bundles dropped by C-130 aircrews from the Japan Air Self Defense Force and the 36th Airlift Squadron.
“This global pandemic has hindered many things, but it could not stop the spirit of this season and the joy of giving,” said Brig. Gen. Jeremy Sloane, 36th Wing commander. “This year, nearly 30 tons of toys, food, clothes, supplies and love being packed into more than 130 bundles had to be gathered in unique ways, then packaged in an extremely safe manner and distributed like never before.”
Months leading up to the drop dates, volunteers from Team Andersen created donation drop-off boxes for collecting lifesaving supplies, non-perishable food items, educational materials and toys that will be air dropped to participating islands between Dec. 7 and 10. Donated items were sanitized and stored in a controlled COVID-19 free environment for more than 24 hours before being packed into bundles. The bundles were then left in a sanitized location for a minimum of 72 hours after packing to ensure a safe and COVID-19 free delivery of critical supplies to Palau.
This long-standing tradition of goodwill is a partnership between the 374th AW, Yokota Air Base, Japan; the 36th WG, Andersen AFB, Guam; the 734th Air Mobility Squadron, Andersen AFB of 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.
OCD is the Department of Defense’s longest-running humanitarian airlift operation. The tradition began during the Christmas season in 1952 when a B-29 Superfortress aircrew saw islanders waving at them from the island of Kapingamarangi, 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.
Since then, more than a million pounds of supplies have been dropped throughout the region.
“As 2020 come to a close, ending a year of great uncertainty, doubt and social and physical distancing, Operation Christmas Drop, serves as a beacon of hope and humanity, highlighting our community, regional and global connectedness,” said Sloane. “And although some of the islands remain unable to receive bundles, due to the pandemic, those supplies are still packed and ready to be delivered at a moment’s notice. The men and women of OCD, much like Santa, remain ready.”
For more information on Operation Christmas Drop, call the Andersen AFB Public Affairs Office at 366-2228.