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Santa's Helpers in the Pacific

  • Published
  • By Jerry Bynum, 624th Regional Support Group Public Affairs
  • 624th Regional Support Group

Reserve Citizen Airmen from the 44th Aerial Port Squadron supported aerial port operations mid-December with the 734th Air Mobility Squadron here during Operation Christmas Drop 2019.


Reservists loaded more than 190 bundles aboard U.S. Air Force C-130 Hercules and other partner aircraft for delivery to approximately 20,000 people living on remote islands spread across about 1.8 million square nautical miles throughout the Pacific.


“I’m proud of the work our 44th APS Airmen do to support our active-duty counterparts and this mission,” said Col. Athanasia Shinas, 624th Regional Support Group commander. “Their contributions in Guam and across the Pacific really make a difference for so many people.”


OCD is the Department of Defense’s longest recurring humanitarian mission with a long-standing annual tradition of packaging and delivering donated food, tools and toys to more than 56 remote Southeast Pacific islands, including the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, and the Republic of Palau.


“Operation Christmas Drop is a tradition for the 44th [Aerial Port Squadron],” said Staff Sgt. Jordan Mafnas, 44th APS OCD 2019 team chief. “It allows us to receive more training when it comes to real-world missions as well as this Christmas Drop mission.”


During the weeklong international effort, U.S. Pacific Air Forces airpower ambassadors from here, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, and Yokota Air Base, Japan, worked with partners from the Japanese, Australian and New Zealand air forces with observers from Bangladesh, Malaysia, Mongolia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. This effort provided low-cost, low-altitude training air drops. The aerial delivery served as valuable interoperability training for the partner nations while delivering various donations provided by private donors, charitable organizations and the University of Guam.


The tradition began during the Christmas season in 1952 when a U.S. Air Force B-29 Superfortress aircrew saw islanders waving at them from the island of Kapingamarangi, 3,500 miles southwest of Hawaii. 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. Today, air drop operations include more than 56 islands throughout the Pacific and has since been a U.S. Air Force annual tradition.