“Operation Christmas Drop,” the humanitarian effort to deliver supplies to the most remote places on earth, is the single-longest effort run by the US Department of Defense. Since 1952, The US Air Force has led the humanitarian effort to deliver supplies to the people that need it most.
Over the course of seven days, over 50 islands are visited by C-130 cargo planes to receive their yearly shipment of toys, school supplies, clothing, and other items. Most of these islands don’t have any place to land, so the packages are dropped and the planes return home without landing. The distance covered is incredible; imagine taking a flight from South Dakota to L.A. and back, nonstop. The area covered is nearly the equivalent of the entire United States; nearly 3 million square miles.
The people that live on the islands, including Micronesia, are among the most removed from the rest of the world. Ships visit the islands no more than once or twice a year. The islands are frequently the victims of intense storms and typhoons, and the assistance from the US goes a long way in making their lives just a little easier. The Air Force also honors special requests from the islanders; one year, they needed seeds to replenish their crops after destructive weather – the cargo dropped gave them what they needed to continue to feed their families.
According to Bruce Best, a Communication Specialist at the University of Guam, the drop is, “the most important day of the year for them; this is the biggest thing going on.”
Last year, the USAF was able to partner with the Royal Australian Air Force and the Japan Air Self-Defense Force to deliver more goods to more people. This was the very first drop in the history of the mission that was a combined effort from multiple countries. Check it out: