71st West Pac Christmas Drop

We’ve talked about the long-running Operation Christmas Drop exercise several times in the past.

Besides its obvious humanitarian “hearts and minds” goodwill in stretches of the Western Pacific that often don’t get a lot of attention, it also provides a chance for C-130 units around the Rim to get some real-world training should they be needed to, say, handle low-key resupply for isolated company-sized Marine rocket batteries dropped off on random atolls with little infrastructure but within range of Chinese maritime assets.

Anyway, the 71st OCD just concluded, seeing a few interesting things including seven Herky birds from the U.S. Air Force, Royal Australian Air Force (No.37 Sqn), Japan Air Self-Defense Force (401st Tactical Airlift Squadron), Republic of Korea Air Force (251st Tactical Air Support Squadron), and Royal New Zealand Air Force (No. 40 Sqn) taxi in formation during a multinational “elephant walk” at Andersen Air Force Base, in Guam.

“Operation Christmas Drop 2022” graphic placed onto a C-130J Super Hercules assigned to the 36th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Nov. 16, 2022. The artwork celebrates the 71st annual Operation Christmas Drop which is the longest-running Department of Defense humanitarian and disaster relief mission. Each year, the USAF partners with countries in the Pacific Air Forces area of responsibility to deliver supplies to remote islands in the South-Eastern Pacific. (U.S. Air Force photo by Yasuo Osakabe)

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Jeffrey Furnary, 36th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron director of operations, uses a radio to communicate with C-130 pilots at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Dec. 10, 2022, during Operation Christmas Drop 2022. 

(Right to Left) A Japan Air Self-Defense Force C-130H Hercules assigned to the 401st Tactical Airlift Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force C-130J Super Hercules assigned to the 37 Squadron, Republic of Korea Air Force C-130H Hercules assigned to the 251st Tactical Air Support Squadron, Royal New Zealand Air Force C-130H Hercules assigned to 40 Squadron, and U.S. Air Force C-130J Super Hercules assigned to the 36th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron sit on the flightline at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam

Seven C-130 Aircraft from the U.S. Air Force, Republic of Korea Air Force, Japan Air Self-Defense Force, Royal Australian Air Force, and Royal New Zealand Air Force take part in an elephant walk to signify the end of Operation Christmas Drop 2022, Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Dec. 10, 2022. 

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Jeffrey Furnary, 36th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron director of operations, salutes to an Air Force C-130J Super Hercules’ crewmembers at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Dec. 10, 2022, during Operation Christmas Drop 2022. 

In all, the C-130 crewmembers delivered 209 bundles with humanitarian aid totaling more than 71,000 pounds of cargo to more than 22,000 remote Micronesian islanders on 56 islands throughout the Federated States of Micronesia and the Republic of Palau.

This broke last year’s record of 185 bundles.

These included snorkels, flippers and fishing equipment; rice, eskies, containers and cookware; and gifts including colouring pencils, books, sporting equipment and toys.

The box-build process gets a lot of involvement on base from the community, cumulating in a “Bundle Build Day” at Andersen.

After rigging, Andersen’s 734th Air Mobility Squadron and the 44th Aerial Port Squadron (Reserve Component) Port Dawgs partnered to load the 450-pound chute-rigged bundles and service the C-130s for continued sorties.

“It remains the longest-running U.S. Department of Defense humanitarian and disaster relief mission that is supported by multiple Herc fleets from across the region.”

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