Operation Christmas Drop focuses on Palau

Operation Christmas Drop is the Department of Defense's longest-running humanitarian airlift training operation. (File photo)

Everything is all set for this year’s Operation Christmas Drop. But this time, airdrop efforts are focused on Palau after the FSM declined to participate due to COVID-19 concerns.

Operation Christmas Drop is the Department of Defense’s longest-running humanitarian airlift training operation.

The program started in 1952 when a B-29 Superfortress aircrew saw islanders waving at them from one of the outer islands in the FSM. At that time, it was the holiday season, so the aircrew dropped a bundle of supplies attached to a parachute to the islanders below, giving the operation its name.

Bruce Best, also known as Brother Bruce, who is currently the station manager of the Telecommunications and Distance Education Operation at UOG, provided updates on this year’s Christmas drop in an interview with K57’s Tony Lamorena.

Brother Bruce has been providing support for Operation Christmas Drop as a volunteer island liaison and radio operator.

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“Operation Christmas Drop is alive and well on its 69th year this year. We are dropping a ton of boxes, Palau has turned out to be the big winner. The planes are in and they started practice drops so the U.S. Air Force has not given up on us in Micronesia and we are looking at the big 670 next year,” Best said.

Starting this weekend, USAF and Japanese Air Self Defense Force C-130s will be dropping 60-plus boxes across the Palau island chain from Tobi to Kayangel.

The boxes contain various items — from fishing gear, sporting goods, and toys, to school books.

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“Actually we have been doing dropping practice drops all over the Marianas but the crew are ready for the low-level drops. The actual drops start on Sunday, on the 6th. All next week, they’ll be dropping,” Best said.

Brother Bruce also appeared as himself in the Netflix produced movie “Operation Christmas Drop.”