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NEWS | Dec. 5, 2023

International delegates unite for Operation Christmas Drop 2023

By Tech. Sgt. Taylor Altier, 374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

With smiles on their faces and Santa hats on their heads, crews from the U.S., Japan, Canada, Australia, the Republic of Korea, and the Philippines arrived at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, from Nov. 27-29 to kick off Operation Christmas Drop once again.

Dating back to 1952 as the world’s longest-running humanitarian mission, OCD provides a unique opportunity for U.S. and partner nation forces to operate side-by-side while delivering holiday cheer and essential supplies to remote island communities across the Pacific.

In preparation for the airdrops, Yokota Airmen and the multinational team conducted low-cost, low-altitude airdrop training that not only reinforced the technical proficiency of the aircrews but also fostered communication, trust, and interoperability among the forces, setting the stage for a successful 72nd annual Operation Christmas Drop.

“Each bundle embodies the goodwill and compassion of nations coming together to make a positive impact,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Michael Campos, 374th Maintenance Group commander. “Each year, as we prepare to reach out to the distant corners of the Pacific, our collective efforts resonate not only with the essence of the holiday season but also with the shared values that bind us together.”

Putting together an operation of this magnitude is no easy feat; tireless months of preparation go into making it a success, including coordinating with international teams, planning mission schedules, organizing donated goods collections, and sorting each year.

Those donated goods made their way into 210 bundles destined for the remote islands scattered across the Pacific.

Echoing with laughter and joy, volunteers of all ages and nations gathered at a hangar on the Andersen flightline for the annual bundle build event.

“The bundle build event brings the entire community together,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Zach “Badger” Overbey, OCD 2023 mission commander and pilot. “All of our international partners joined and had a great time while also truly understanding their impact on people’s lives.”

Each bundle was loaded with non-perishable food, fishing supplies, schoolbooks, and toys for the island’s children, bringing the joy of the holidays alongside the familiar roar of a C-130.