21 December 2009

Operation Christmas Drop: The longest-running humanitarian airdrop mission in Air Force history

"For most of us, Christmas falls on a specific day on our calendar, but this year, on 51 islands, Christmas will begin as it has for over half a century, when you, the (U.S.) Air Force, show up carrying Santa in the sky."

- Bill Hagen, long-time volunteer and supporter of Operation Christmas Drop
A bundle of donated goods drifts to an island after being dropped out the back of a C-130 Hercules Dec. 16, 2009, during Operation Christmas Drop. The operation, the longest-running humanitarian airlift mission in the world, delivers supplies to remote islands of the Federated States of Micronesia. U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Kimberly Spinner.

A heartwarming 58-year tradition started by a WB-50 crew in 1952.

Operation Christmas Drop is under way once again

by Senior Airman Shane Dunaway
36th Wing Public Affairs

12/18/2009 - ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam (AFNS) -- More than 12 months of preparation have gone into ensuring this year's four-day air drop mission, known as Operation Christmas Drop, goes smoothly, with countless fundraisers and many drop-off points made available to those wishing to donate supplies and help support Guam's island neighbors in the Marianas, Carolines, Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands and the Federal States of Micronesia.

Operation Christmas Drop's mission officially kicked off with a Push Ceremony held Dec. 15. Members of the Andersen family and representatives from the local community were on hand to assist in loading boxes onto a C-130 Hercules, in essence preparing the first sortie's load of donations for delivery.

Donated goods drop to a planned location on the Chuuk Islands Dec. 16, 2009, as part of Operation Christmas Drop. The operation, which began in 1952, is the Air Force's longest-running humanitarian mission. Airmen today continue the tradition delivering supplies to remote islands of the Federated States of Micronesia. U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Julian North.

This is the 58th consecutive year that Operation Christmas Drop missions will fly, making it the longest-running airdrop mission in the history of the Air Force. The concept of Operation Christmas Drop began in 1952 when locals on the island of Kapingamarangi waved to the crew of a WB-50 flying overhead. In the spirit of the holiday season, the crew gathered what they could, packed it into a canister, attached a parachute and dropped it to the islanders.

More at the link.

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