374th Airlift Wing and allies support the 70th Anniversary of Operation Christmas Drop

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Joshua Edwards
  • 374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

The 374th Airlift Wing stationed at Yokota Air Base, Japan, alongside its allied nations and partners participated in the 70th Anniversary of Operation Christmas Drop starting Dec. 5.

With roots dating back to 1952, OCD is the longest-running Department of Defense humanitarian and disaster relief training mission.

“It is important that we train to the highest and most respectable level, because we only get one chance,” said Tech. Sgt. Vincenzo Gallegos, 36th Airlift Squadron loadmaster. “If we go somewhere and there is a disaster, a tsunami, earthquake or typhoon, we need to get it right … so that people get the supplies they need.”

This year, private donors, charitable organizations and the University of Guam, collected enough food and supplies to provide aid to over 22,000 residents across more than 55 remote islands in the South-Eastern Pacific, including the Federated States of Micronesia and the Republic of Palau.

“The U.S. has a long history of providing aid in the Pacific,” said Capt. Alex Randall, 36th Airlift Squadron pilot and OCD mission commander. “Operations like Christmas Drop give us the unique chance to practice humanitarian aid and disaster relief, while actually helping people.”

Working alongside the 374th Airlift Wing are Airmen from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, as well as international partners including the Republic of Korea Air Force and Japanese Air Self-Defense Force.

“It is very important to work together with our partners,” said JASDF Capt. Shori Yamashiro, 401st Squadron pilot. “This gives us a chance to improve our humanitarian assistance and demonstrates our commitment to foster a free and open Indo-Pacific.”

Both the 374th AW and its partners utilized C-130J or C-130H Super Hercules to perform low-cost low-altitude drops to minimize cost and maximize safety.

“Our C-130s are uniquely postured to execute this mission set,” said Randall. “By far, the most satisfying part of Operation Christmas Drop is pushing that bundle out and seeing the look on the children’s faces as the parachute opens. To see the impact you are having on their lives, there is nothing like it in the world.”