News Release

 Love from Above - 2022

OCD and Andersen Air Force Base partner to send Christmas to the Pacific Islands

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For 71 years, Andersen Air Force Base in the tropics of 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 Phillips, currently serving in the Micronesia Guam Mission, participated with Operation Christmas Drop communicating and coordinating donations between the AFB and the church. This gave opportunity for missionaries and members to have the chance to purchase and fill five of the 209 bundles that were dropped by parachute. Through this missionary couple’s connection with the AFB, they were able to facilitate three senior missionaries the rare opportunity to fly on the planes which delivered bundles to outlier islands of Chuuk, Yap, and Palau.

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Elder Jenkins serving as a missionary in the Micronesia Guam Mission, flys on the Santa 31 to deliver Christmas bundles to the island of Yap in the Federated States of Micronesia© 2022 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

Elder Jenkins flew on the Santa 31 which dropped bundles over outlier islands of Yap. Excited about his experience he said, “Operation Christmas Drop was a huge effort to relieve suffering and bring joy. I am proud to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and to have served with many others from our Church along with hundreds of other like-minded Christians in remembering the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ, by serving those people on the islands of Micronesia. It was a thrill to ride on the Santa 31 and see the people below anxiously waiting to receive their packages.”

Elder Beck and Sister Hill flew on the plane which dropped bundles over the islands of Peliliu and Angaur in the southern part of the Republic of Palau.

Sister Susan Hill, a missionary in the Micronesia Guam Mission, on a flight to Palau to drop parachuted bundles.© 2022 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

Sister Hill tells of how the Marines and Navy Seabees were revamping the runways on both islands. The drop was made in the middle of the partially finished runways on each island. “What was supposed to be a five-hour flight turned out to be six. It was a long flight but it was a lot of fun! I loved watching the bundles go out of the airplane, drop down with the parachutes, land in the middle of their partially finished runway, and see the people running to the boxes to open them up.”

This is a great opportunity for the Church to aid these remote islanders. Barrigada Guam Stake members contributed to the drop as they donated toys and other items in boxes located in meeting houses on the island of Guam.

During this annual, weeklong operation, Military Air Crews flew eight 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 56 islands which received bundles during this year’s drops, which ran December fourth through the thirteenth. Children ran with excitement to greet the bundles as they heard the plane’s engines overhead. Once retrieved, the island chiefs laid out the supplies of the bundle then distributed 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 weeklong international effort allows U.S. Pacific Air Forces Airmen from the 374th Airlift Wing at Yokota air Base, Japan; the 36th Wing, Andersen AFB, Guam; Republic of Korea Air Force, Japan Air Self-defense Force, Royal Australian Air Force, and the Royal New Zealand Air Force to participate in this years 71st Operation Christmas Drop.

As the Church serves others, we are grateful to have worked side by side with AAFB, 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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