Service members from the U.S. Air Force, Japanese Air Self-Defense Force (Koku Jietai), Royal Australian Air Force, Royal New Zealand Air Force, and volunteers from the local community came together for a day of bundle building during Operation Christmas Drop 2019 at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Dec. 7, 2019.
With the event seeing to the packing of 176 Christmas bundles with the critical food, clothing, and vital medical supplies needed on 56 Micronesian Islands scattered across 1.8 million square nautical miles throughout the Pacific, the work that made this day of giving and cheer possible started right after last year’s OCD came to an end.
“We’ve been preparing for this event since January,” said U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Austin Miller, 374th Logistics Readiness Squadron combat mobility technician out of Yokota Air Base, Japan. “We pack the parachutes needed for these Coastal Humanitarian Airdrops, or CHADs as we call them, throughout the year and then getting here to cut the wood and compile these bundles over the last few days was all made worth it the second we started packing.
“Having been at Yokota for two years already and putting in the work back home for this event in years past, seeing the supplies that are going out to these islands really puts everything into perspective. The supplies I am appreciative to have every day we send out once a year to these islands. Knowing that, it’s incredibly fulfilling to know that work we do here is making such a difference in peoples’ lives.”
It is that belief in helping others and changing the world that has kept individuals volunteering their time to be a part of the Operation Christmas Drop bundle build team year after year.
“This is our second year here to be a part of the bundle building festivities,” said Sarah Kimbrough, who’s family is stationed at Andersen Air Force Base. “Last year was such a humbling experience that I wanted to share the joy that is helping others with my daughter and her troop.
“It’s important to teach our children that kindness and compassion for others is key. When we have the ability to help others, it’s the right thing to do so. That is exactly why we donated supplies and our time to the cause.”
Sarah’s daughter Elizabeth Kimbrough, age 5 and member of Girl Scouts of the United States of America Troop 126, left her mark on the build along with her fellow troop mates with a drawing on the side of their freshly packed bundle.
“Christmas is my favorite holiday because we get to open presents,” said Sarah. “I wanted the people getting our bundle to be happy with their present and that is why I drew a tree on the side with people dancing.”
From those who have volunteered over the years to those that were fresh faces, the event is always a humbling experience, even for those who provide airlift on a routine basis.
“I think it’s humbling to see exactly what we are putting into these boxes,” said RNZAF Flight Lieutenant George Hercus, 40th Squadron engineering officer out of RNZAF Base Auckland, New Zealand. “It is powerful knowing what we are providing to these people. With this being the RNZAF’s first year on the OCD team, knowing the aid we are providing, it’s crucial that we work with our allied nations to better ourselves and each other when it comes to our capability to support these types of missions. With 176 bundles to deliver, it’s going to take a team effort to make that happen and we are excited to do just that.”
Over the next week and half those 176 bundles will be out for delivery on C-130s flying over the skies of the Pacific providing aid to over 20,0000 people, all the while training the Operation Christmas Drop crews to respond to any disaster throughout the region.