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Operation Christmas Drop continues as Pacific tradition

ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam (AFNS) --

Base volunteers here will team up with Airmen from Yokota Air Base, Japan, to conduct humanitarian airdrops over the remote islands of Micronesia in the Western Pacific this week.

Volunteers here have been spreading the holiday cheer to surrounding islands since December 1952. Operation Christmas Drop is the longest running humanitarian airlift mission supported by the Department of Defense.

U.S. military service members, their families, and the people of Guam teamed up with the Christmas Drop Organization to ensure a successful mission.  The Christmas Drop Organization is a private organization of volunteers that directs fundraising efforts, coordinates the gathering of donated items, and oversees community involvement activities.

"The yearly success of this drop is a testament to the generosity of the civilian and military population of Guam," said Master Sgt. Bobby Lynch, the Operation Christmas Drop committee president. "We continue to do this to help improve the quality of life of the islanders. We may take it for granted that we can go to a mall to purchase our daily needs, but these folks do not have the same privilege from where they live."

Operation Christmas Drop packages aid the men and women of more than 50 islands, including Chuuk, Palau, Yap, Marshall Islands and Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Boxes contain toys, clothing, fishing equipment, sporting goods, food items, tools and other equipment that help people in the islands with their livelihood.

 "In the spirit of the holiday season, what we can do is help and share what we have," Lynch said.

In addition to collaborating with the community of Guam, Operation Christmas Drop demonstrates the inter-wing partnership between Andersen AFB and Yokota AB.

Each December, C-130 Hercules crews from the 374th Airlift Wing fly to Andersen AFB, which is used as a "base camp" to airlift the donated goods to islanders throughout Micronesia. Yokota AB aircrews find valuable training opportunities through the unique airdrop environment that Operation Christmas Drop offers.

Andersen AFB Christmas Drop volunteers stress the importance the packages have on the daily lives of the Micronesians receiving them.

"This drop cannot happen successfully without the participation of everyone, regardless of which branch you belong to or whether or not you're in the military," Lynch said.

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