Volunteers here have been spreading holiday cheer to surrounding islands each December since 1952. Operation Christmas Drop is the longest running humanitarian airlift mission supported by the Department of Defense.
Teaming up with the Christmas Drop Organization, a private group of volunteers that directs the fundraising, the gathering of donated items, and community involvement activities, U.S. military service members, their families and the people of Guam work closely together to ensure a successful mission.
“The yearly success of this drop is a testament to the generosity of the civilian and military population of Guam,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sergeant Bobby Lynch, Operation Christmas Drop committee president. “We continue to do this to help improve the quality of life of the islanders. We may take it for granted that we can go to a mall to purchase our daily needs, but these folks do not have the same privilege from where they live.”
Christmas Drop packages aid the people of more than 50 islands, including Chuuk, Palau, Yap and islands in the Republic of the Marshall Islands and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Boxes contain toys, clothing, fishing equipment, sporting goods, food, tools and other equipment that help people in the islands.
“In the spirit of the holiday season, what we can do is help and share what we have,” Lynch said.
Each December, U.S. Air Force crews fly their C-130 Hercules cargo aircraft from Yokota to Andersen, which is used as a base camp to airlift the donated goods to islanders throughout Micronesia. Yokota aircrews find valuable training opportunities through the unique airdrop environment that Christmas Drop offers.
Christmas Drop volunteers stress the importance the packages have for the daily lives of the Micronesians receiving them.
“This drop cannot happen successfully without the participation of everyone, regardless of which [military] branch you belong to or whether or not you’re in the military,” Lynch said.