News Release

Donation to "Operation Christmas Drop"

Dropping Christmas love from above

For seventy years Andersen Air Force Base in tropical Guam has continued its long running tradition of dropping love from above. Operation Christmas Drop is the Department of Defense’s longest-running humanitarian airlift operation which began unofficially back in December of 1951 when the crew of a WB-29 Superfortress bomber noticed people waving at them from Kapingamarangi in Micronesia. 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. A tradition was born.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints stays aware of humanitarian needs in their respective areas. Military Relations senior missionary couple Elder and Sister Richards, currently serving as part of the Micronesia Guam Mission, met with Captain Zobel to coordinate communications and donations between the AFB, Operation Christmas Drop, and the church. This gave opportunity to not only allow our donation of supplies, but to also give sixteen missionaries the chance to purchase and fill two of the two-hundred boxes that were dropped with parachutes. Through this missionary couple’s connection with the AFB, they were able to facilitate four senior missionaries, Elder Nickle, Elder Moir, Elder Green, and Sister Green, as well as the Micronesia Guam mission president’s wife, Christina Hicks, the rare opportunity to fly on the Santa 21 which delivered bundles to three outlier islands of Chuuk: Losap Atol, Piis Enwar, and Nama.

The Welfare and Self-reliance Department of The Church in Guam contributed to this year's Operation Christmas Drop by providing chainsaws, gas cans, gloves, water bottles, filtration systems, ropes, cords, and tarps. This is a great opportunity for the Church to aid these remote islanders. Barrigada Guam Stake members also contributed to the drop as they donated toys and other items in boxes located in meeting houses on the island of Guam. Two military airmen, James Zobel and David Hannon, volunteered to pick up the Church’s donations and take them back to the AFB hanger.

During this annual, weeklong operation, Military Air Crews flew C-130 cargo planes that airdropped 400-to 600-pound bundles of donated food, educational materials, tools, clothing, toiletries, toys, and other supplies to thousands of people living on tiny, palm tree covered islands in the South-Eastern Pacific including the Federated States of Micronesia, the Mariana’s, and the Republic of Palau totaling 57 islands throughout the Pacific which received bundles during this year’s drops, which ran through December thirteenth. Children run with excitement to greet the bundles as they hear the plane’s engines overhead. Once retrieved, the island chiefs lay out the supplies of the bundle then distribute it to their villagers.

The aerial delivery enables both USAF and partner nation aircrew the training necessary to develop and maintain combat readiness through aircraft generation and recovery, while delivering donations provided by private donors, charitable organizations, and the University of Guam, to over 22,000 residents across those remote islands in the region. This training mission is not only a tradition but provides relevant and real training necessary for the airmen and partner nations in the Indo-pacific region.

The primary participants are the 36th Wing at Andersen, the 374th airlift Wing out of Yokota Air Base, Japan, and the 515th Air Mobility Operations Wing from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii.

As the Church serves others, we are grateful to have worked side by side with AAFB, to meet the base commander of the 36th wing, Brig. Gen. Jeremy Sloane, and to be blessed with such enriching opportunities. The Church’s reach in serving and giving aid continues to expand to many corners of the world, to include those residing in the isles of the sea.

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