Operation Christmas Drop, Pacific Air Forces’ trademark yearly training mission that brings humanitarian aid to dozens of islands throughout the region, delivered supplies for 20,000 people in 2019.
This year’s iteration, the 68th annual drop, included C-130s from the USAF, Japan Air Self-Defense Force, Royal Australian Air Force, and Royal New Zealand Air Force based out of Andersen AFB, Guam. Operation Christmas Drop is the world’s longest-running humanitarian assistance airdrop training mission and covers 1.8 million square nautical miles, according to the Air Force.
The week-and-a-half-long exercise included airdropping 176 bundles totaling more than 70,000 pounds of cargo to residents of 55 remote Micronesian islands, according to an Andersen release. The bundles were filled with food, clothing, medical supplies, and toys. While the mission helped those in need, it also gave C-130 crews a chance to train for coastal humanitarian aid missions.
“From a tactical perspective, this is incredibly valuable training for our aircrews,” said Maj. Dan Moss, the mission commander for the operation from the 36th Airlift Squadron at Yokota AB, Japan. “This gives our aircraft commanders and their crews the opportunity to go out and determine where and how it is best to deliver these bundles to places they have never been to before.”
Crews have flown similar missions in response to earthquakes in Indonesia and Palau, Moss said.