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C-130 News: Operation Christmas Drop now a collaborative mission

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5670e098ced3f_2015-12-08Christmasdrop.jp

It's the Department of Defense's longest-running humanitarian airlift operation, and today marks the first time in history the operation was conducted in collaboration with international partners.  It's a mission that takes the spirit of giving to new heights.

Brigadier General Andrew Toth, commander of the 36th Air Wing said, "Operation Christmas Drop is truly a special mission on Andersen Air Force Base, and is certainly very close to our heart here in the 36th Wing.  Operating since 1952 the operation provides critical supplies, educational material, and toys to low-lying islands and atolls. The humanitarian aid and disaster relief operation also provides low-altitude air drop training."

Spearheaded by the 374th Airlift Wing out of Yokota Japan, the 36th Wing out of Guam, and 515th Wing out of Pearl Habror, Hawaii, this year's mission is the first in history to also include international partners from Australia and Japan. Commander Eaton said, "I'm truly astounded, truly grateful for the support provided by the Japanese Air Self Defense Force and the Royal Australian Air Force."

Beginning today C-130 airplanes will conduct one hundred drops to deliver an estimated 40,000 pounds of goods, every ounce of which Ayuda Foundation executive director Carlotta Leon Guerrero said is used and needed in these remote islands. She shared the story of a senator she met in Pohnpei, who was present at the very first Christmas Drop over 60 years ago.

"The senator from Kapingamarangi told me that the very first time he ever got clothes was when the box came, and he had t-shirts and he had a pair of shorts, but he'll never forget that," he added.

General Toth said, "Since then it has made an immeasurable ongoing difference in the lives of residents of more than 50 islands to include Chuuk, Palau, Yap, the Marshall Islands, the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands, and the Federated States of Micronesia." And Commander Colonel Douglas Delamater added, "Importantly, in addition to delivering critical supplies to those in need, Operation Christmas Drop provides invaluable training to US and allied air crews, bolstering theater wide preparedness to respond to crises, be they natural, or manmade."

In fact, the annual aerodelivery exercise goes to some of the most remote drop zones on the planet. "It is world class airlift training that you cannot get anywhere else," stated Colonel Delamater.

But aside from showcasing military strength and Indo Asia Pacific Region, it also shows the American tradition of giving back.  Chaplain Major Buddy Walker offered a blessing, saying, "May every drop hit the mark, may every heart zooming overhead or unpacking below find Christmas."

Operation Christmas Drop was made possible by fundraising, volunteers, and donations led by the Operation Christmas Drop private organization.

View original article at KUAM.com


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