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Santa helps deliver fuel to remote bases in Afghanistan

SOUTHWEST ASIA – Santa Claus, portrayed by Tech. Sgt. Mike Morris, 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron Loadmaster Flight NCO in charge and native of Charleston, S.C., pushes a pallet of fuel onto a C-17 Globemaster III prior to a mission here Dec. 23, 2011. The 816th EAS airdropped 40 pallets of fuel to remote forward operating bases in Afghanistan. The fuel will be used for generators, heaters and vehicles. Morris is deployed from Charleston Air Force Base, S.C. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Nathanael Callon)

SOUTHWEST ASIA – Santa Claus, portrayed by Tech. Sgt. Mike Morris, 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron Loadmaster Flight NCO in charge and native of Charleston, S.C., pushes a pallet of fuel onto a C-17 Globemaster III prior to a mission here Dec. 23, 2011. The 816th EAS airdropped 40 pallets of fuel to remote forward operating bases in Afghanistan. The fuel will be used for generators, heaters and vehicles. Morris is deployed from Charleston Air Force Base, S.C. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Nathanael Callon)

SOUTHWEST ASIA (AFNS) -- Santa Claus paid a surprise visit to the 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron here Dec. 23 to assist in an airdrop delivery to remote forward operating bases in Afghanistan.

"I just wanted to bring a little holiday cheer to the men and women of the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing and help out with a very special holiday delivery," chuckled Santa, portrayed by Tech. Sgt. Mike Morris, 816th EAS Loadmaster Flight NCO in charge and native of Charleston, S.C.

The delivery - 160 barrels of fuel - was loaded onto a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft under Santa's command.

The fuel will be used for generators, vehicles and heaters to keep service members warm in the frigid mountains of eastern Afghanistan, said Staff Sgt. Mike Folk, 816th EAS loadmaster and native of Frazeysburg, Ohio.

"This fuel is going to help keep them warm and let them continue to accomplish their mission," said Folk.

Santa's precision as a loadmaster comes from years of experience configuring loads for his sleigh rides across the globe to deliver presents.

"Santa is sometimes a little hard to work for," Folk added. "His operations are generally more large-scale, so his work ethic definitely reflects that."

The 816th EAS transported about three million pounds of cargo and personnel to forward locations throughout Southwest Asia last month.

"It's a huge part of what we do around here and it's important that we sustain the warfighters," said Senior Master Sgt. Kevin Kloeppel, 816th EAS superintendent and native of Sante Fe, N.M. "With the fuel, water, food and supplies that we drop off, we can sustain their mission."

The 816th EAS works with the U.S. Army 421st Quartermaster Company Parachute Riggers and the 8th Expeditionary Air Mobility Squadron to get the job done.

"The Riggers build the pallets, the 8th EAMS brings the cargo to the plane, and we deliver the supplies," said Kloeppel. "It's truly a team effort to get the mission accomplished."

(Courtesy of 379th Air Expeditionary Wing public affairs)

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