Operation Christmas Drop brought joy to residents in one of the atolls of the Federated States of Micronesia over the weekend and continued to bring holiday cheer to more islands today and the rest of the week.
Operation Christmas Drop is the longest-running humanitarian airlift operation organized by the Department of Defense. The tradition began during the Christmas season in 1952 when a B-29 Superfortress aircrew saw islanders waving at them from the island of Kapingamarangi, in the FSM.
Over the weekend, aircrew continued the tradition by dropping supplies, food, educational materials, and toys attached to a parachute to the residents of this tiny FSM atoll. Aircrews are linked to Pacific island villages through ham radio as they fly overhead and drop supplies.
Andrew Clarke, from the Royal Australian Air Force 37th Squadron, said: “We are tasked to drop to the islands. Today, we are dropping to Kapiramarangi, which is the original, and then we are tasked in the next couple of days to the different islands.”
He added: “It is really rewarding. Especially knowing who we are dropping it to — these people in remote islands that are not often getting the items that we are dropping. So it is really rewarding seeing them running out and hearing them in the radio … the joy that this brings them for Christmas.”
Today, aircrews from the Pacific Air Forces and its partners from the region covered more ground by air-dropping supplies to more locations.
While bringing holiday cheer, the event also provides readiness training to participating aircrew, allowing them to gain experience in conducting airdrops while providing critical supplies to more than 50 islands in Palau, the CNMI, and of course, the FSM., bringing a positive impact to thousands of people in these remote islands.