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ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- Airmen from Yokota Air Base, Japan, were joined by the University of Guam, the local community and charitable organizations to provide more than 39,000 pounds of humanitarian supplies to islanders during Operation Christmas Drop Dec. 11 to 18.
Since December 1952, Operation Christmas Drop brings together Airmen and volunteers to spread holiday cheer to surrounding islands. What began as a small crew packing what they could in a small canister and dropping it to islanders on a parachute has grown into numerous volunteers seizing the opportunity to spread holiday spirit by pushing tons of supplies from the back of a C-130 Hercules to create their own tales from the tail.
Fifty-four islands, which included Chuuk, Palau, Yap, Marshall Islands and Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, benefit from the drop that consists of toys, clothing, fishing equipment, sporting goods, food items, tools and other items that would make their day-to-day life easier.
"This gives us a chance to give them much needed equipment that they don't have access to," said Master Sgt. Cameron Leslie, the 36th Force Support Squadron career assistant advisor. "In a sense, these items are Christmas presents, but also helps their livelihood."
Long before the C-130 Hercules soars into the sky to execute Operation Christmas Drop, Airmen and volunteers come together for several packing sessions to prepare each box to be dropped.
"The time and dedication that people are willing to give is astounding," said Capt. Mitchell Foy, president of the Operation Christmas Drop committee. "It's amazing watching everyone come together to make this humanitarian effort happen."
"It's probably the most humbling experience of my life," said Foy.
Even in its 61st year, Operation Christmas Drop remains the longest-running humanitarian effort in the Department of Defense.
"When we all signed up to join the military, it was about service, not only service to our country, but service to the world," said Col. David Gould, 374th Operations Group commander. "There are a few operations on this planet that demonstrates as much commitment to service as Operation Christmas Drop."
Last year, Leslie took a 13-day trip to Falalop Island to get a perspective from the islanders' point of view.
"They're very much appreciative of Christmas Drop, and they value our relationship," Leslie said. "For them, the idea that we take time out of all the things we do to put something together for them is amazing."