Operation Christmas Drop

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Operation Christmas Drop
Cargo drops from a U.S. Air Force C-130 Hercules aircraft over the Pacific Ocean toward a landing zone on the shore of Kayangel Island during the 62nd annual Operation Christmas Drop Dec. 11, 2013 131211-F-NA975-171.jpg
Supplies are dropped over Kayangel atoll in the Federated States of Micronesia, 2013.
Location Micronesia
Objective Distribute Christmas gifts in Micronesia, train American service men and women, provide a trilateral training opportunity for Pacific allies.
Date 1952 – present
Executed by  United States
Outcome Ongoing

Operation Christmas Drop is a tradition that serves as a training mission for the United States Air Force which started in 1952. It has since become the longest running United States Department of Defense mission in full operation, and the longest running humanitarian airlift in the world. Supported by the local communities of Guam, it is primarily conducted from Andersen Air Force Base and Yokota Air Base.


The operation was first conducted in 1952.[1] Then, the aircrew of a WB-29 aircraft assigned to the 54th Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, formerly assigned to Andersen Air Force Base in Guam, was flying a mission to the south of Guam over the Micronesian atoll of Kapingamarangi. When they saw the islanders waving to them, the crew quickly gathered some items they had on the plane, placed them in a container with a parachute attached and dropped the cargo as they circled again.[2]

A witness to the first drop on the island of Agrigan said "We saw these things come out of the back of the airplane and I was yelling: 'There are toys coming down'".[3] At the time the island had no electricity or running water, and the islands were periodically hit by typhoons. Some of the first containers failed to arrive where intended, and islanders swam out to retrieve some, while others were discovered months later some miles away.[3]

A resident of Mokil Atoll waves to the C-130 crew after receiving an air dropped aid package, 2012.

Today this unique Christmas tradition is continued with the donations from the residents and businesses of Guam.[4] Each box dropped from a C-130 aircraft weighs nearly 400 pounds and contains items such as fishing nets, construction materials, powdered milk, canned goods, rice, coolers, clothing, shoes, toys and school supplies.[1]

It is the oldest ongoing Department of Defense mission which remains in full operation,[5] and the longest running humanitarian airlift in the world.[4] By 2006, more than 800,000 pounds (360,000 kg) of supplies were delivered.[1] The operation gives troops the chance to practice humanitarian aid drops, as the troops will later be expected to conduct drops over Iraq or Afghanistan after deployment.[3][needs update]

Volunteers from Andersen Air Force Base, including 734th Air Mobility Squadron, and both crew and aircraft from the 36th Airlift Squadron at Yokota Air Base, Japan, participate in the operation. Members of the Guam community also help the operation.[1] Money is raised for the operation by sponsored activities such as golf tournaments and sponsored runs, as well as local businesses sponsoring individual boxes.[1]

The 2006 operation saw 140 boxes dropped to 59 islands.[1] The 2011 operation included dropping twenty five boxes of IV fluids to Fais Island in order to combat a local outbreak of dengue fever.[5] The containers are dropped in water just off the beaches in order to avoid them hitting any of the locals.[3]

In 2014, The Pacific Air Forces delivered 50,000 pounds of supplies to 56 Micronesian Islands.[6]

In 2015, the Japan Air Self-Defense Force and the Royal Australian Air Force participated in the operation with the United States Air Force. Japan and Australia each provided one C-130 Hercules to join the three C-130's provided by the United States.[7]

See also[edit]

WC-130 of the 54th Weather Reconnaissance Squadron out of Guam, circles around for the airdrop in 1986.


  1. ^ a b c d e f Griffin, J.D. (21 December 2006). "Volunteers complete annual Operation Christmas Drop". 'U.S. Air Force. Archived from the original on 12 December 2012. Retrieved 17 December 2011. 
  2. ^ Leslie, Carlin (13 December 2011). "Operation Christmas Drop, cheer from above". Pacific Air Forces. Retrieved 17 December 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c d Robson, Seth (9 December 2011). "Yokota resident recalls memories of Operation Christmas Drop". Stars and Stripes. Retrieved 17 December 2011. 
  4. ^ a b Morgan, Clarissa (10 October 2007). "Operation Christmas Drop delivers supplies to Pacific islands". Anderson Air Force Base. Retrieved 17 December 2011. 
  5. ^ a b "US troops conduct 'Operation Christmas Drop’ with care packages raining down on Micronesia". Washington Post. 16 December 2011. Retrieved 17 December 2011. 
  6. ^ Operation Christmas Drop 2014. 14 January 2015. Retrieved 8 February 2016 – via YouTube. 
  7. ^ "Australia, Japan join U.S. Air Force in Pacific island Christmas food, toy drop that started in 1952". The Japan Times. Retrieved 8 February 2016. 

External links[edit]