Holiday airdrop to reach dozens of islands

PUSH: From left, Bruce Best and U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Christopher Bence join Royal Australian and Japanese Self-Defense Forces personnel to push the first crate of humanitarian supplies into the cargo bay of a C-130J aircraft in 2017. The push ceremony marked the official start of the 66th Operation Christmas Drop. Post file photo

Alii, mogethin, mmi eguach, raninim, kaselahlia and Hafa Adai to all,

It has been a complicated year for the world and, yes, the pandemic has had its effect all the way down to our (still COVID-19-free) families in the outer islands of Micronesia (refer to link to the FSM president's note below).

But here, I wanted to emphasize that this year’s 69th Operation Christmas Drop is alive and well! We have not missed a year since the beginning in 1952 when that B-29 flew over, turned and returned to drop a quickly assembled box of supplies to the waving Kapingamarangi islanders: the first year of "Love from Above" from the U.S. Air Force crews.

Starting this Sunday four USAF C-130 planes , joined by a Japanese Defense Force C-130 Hercules plane will be dropping 50-plus boxes of tools, fishing gear, sporting goods, toys, schoolbooks, food, etc. across the Republic of Palau island chain from Tobi to Kayangel. It is unfortunate the FSM outer islands have opted out but they will be back on the list for the big 70th Christmas Drop.

Since then we have not missed a year, even when disastrous December typhoons cut short our full drop schedule, we were still able to get boxes dropped to a few islands as the USAF planes were getting out of harm's way. We will continue the world’s longest running humanitarian effort on Earth for many years to come thanks to the tremendous dedication to the region by the U.S. Air Force and now joined by their colleagues in Australia, New Zealand and Japan. The Micronesians are forever grateful - this is Christmas for the communities on over 55 of the most remote islands on earth.

This year the USAF Andersen Team, lead by Operation Christmas Drop President Brother Anthony, have been working feverishly over the last few months, amidst the pandemic barriers which restricted the standard 5K and golf fundraisers, to collect a massive amount of goods this year. Thanks to many generous supporters in the Guam community this year, we will have much food and supplies and, working through the FSM consulate office here on Guam, we are going to get the surplus goods to the many FSM citizens stranded here on Guam since the FSM borders have been locked down since March.

Si yu’us ma’ase, salamat, domo arigato and a FAS mesulang, kalmagar, keneso and kalangan to all Operation Christmas Drop supporters on Guam and we all salute the U.S. Air Force for the continuous support to our region.

Wishing a healthy Merry Christmas to all and long live the navigators and Operation Christmas Drop.

Bruce Best has helped coordinate Operation Drop flights for more than 30 years.


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