News>Alaska National Guard brings Operation Santa Claus to Wales
A C-130 Herucles from the Alaska Air National Guard 144th Airlift Squadron is unloaded Dec. 14, 2011, on the airstrip in the village of Wales, Alaska. The aircraft, along with about 35 volunteers from Anchorage, were in Wales for an Operation Santa Claus mission. Op Santa has been a tradition for the Alaska National Guard since 1956. Each year, it brings Santa, Mrs. Claus, along with gifts to some of the small, remote villages of Alaska. (National Guard photo/Master Sgt. Shannon Oleson)
Members of Alaska Brass, a brass and percussion ensemble from the U.S. Air Force Band of the Pacific play holiday music for an Operation Santa Claus mission, Dec. 9, 2011, in the village of Wales, Alaska. About 35 volunteers from Anchorage participated in the mission. (National Guard photo/Master Sgt. Shannon Oleson)
Jeanne Fox, a volunteer for the Bering Strait Native Corporation, serves green beans to Clyde Ongtowasruk of Wales, Dec. 9, 2011, in the village of Wales, Alaska. Fox, along with three dozen volunteers from Anchorage, was in Wales for an Operation Santa Claus mission. (National Guard photo/Master Sgt. Shannon Oleson)
Lucien Ongtowasruk, 5, and Kayden Komonaseak, 5, perform the igloo dance during the Alaska National Guard Operation Santa Claus visit Dec. 9, 2011, in the village of Wales, Alaska. (National Guard photo/Master Sgt. Shannon Oleson)
David Anungazuk, 7, visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus, Dec. 9, 2011, in the village of Wales, Alaska. The Clauses, along with about 35 volunteers from Anchorage, were in the Wales for an Operation Santa mission. (National Guard photo/Master Sgt. Shannon Oleson)
by Master Sgt. Shannon Oleson
176th Wing Public Affairs
12/16/2011 - WALES, Alaska (AFNS) -- Santa, Mrs. Claus and 35 helpers brought Operation Santa Claus and holiday cheer on an Alaska National Guard C-130 Hercules to the small, remote Alaska village of Wales Dec. 9.
The C-130 landed on the village's airstrip and was warmly greeted by community members on snow mobiles.
Operation Santa Claus volunteers and community members quickly off loaded boxes from the aircraft and onto sleds tied to the snow mobiles for the mile ride to the Wales school.
"It's a great time of year and unique way for us to get out and support Alaska citizens," said Col. Mike Bridges, the director of logistics for the Alaska Army National Guard. "I've probably been on at least 20 Operation Santa Claus trips, and each one is a special experience."
While boxes were unpacked in the school's gym, members of Alaska Brass, a brass and percussion ensemble from the U.S. Air Force Band of the Pacific, played festive holiday tunes while the gym filled with nearly everyone from the village.
Following the festive music, a prayer of thanks was given by Alaska Air National Guard Chaplain Brian Musselman before a warm meal, made and donated by Pentagon North, Inc. of Anchorage, was served. Ice cream sundaes were also provided by Tastee Freez, while village youth performed a dance for the audience and their guests.
And then the moment everyone was waiting for, Santa and Mrs. Claus arrived.
"I enjoy visiting with the elders and veterans of the community, while they see their kids interact with Santa Claus," Bridges said. "It's a great time for everyone involved."
One by one, each child had a chance to visit Santa and receive a gift. They were also given a new backpack filled with fresh fruit, books, a toothbrush and other incidentals.
"This event was incredible," said Roxie Quick, the Wales School principal. "It was a great way to show the children a lesson in sharing and about the volunteer spirit."
12/17/2011 2:52:42 PM ET how nice of you to do this
EthelLouise Kelsey, honeoye falls new york
12/16/2011 11:20:53 AM ET well if he can't play at home for his mom this Christmas might as well play for the good folks in Alaska