44th APS bundles tons of love during Operation Christmas Drop

  • Published
  • By Mr. James Bowman
  • 624th Regional Support Group

During the holiday season, gifts come in all sizes, but when the 44th Aerial Port Squadron gets involved, there is one size: extra-large.

While on Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, the 44th APS worked with the Pacific Air Forces, the 36th Wing, and the 734th Air Mobility Squadron to prepare and deliver cargo for Operation Christmas Drop 2023.

Twenty-five Reserve Citizen Airmen from the 44th APS organized and built 210 humanitarian relief boxes (160,000 pounds) with donations of clothing, non-perishables, fishing gear, linens, and toys from the on and off-base communities. The six-day event provided critical supplies to 58 Micronesian islands, impacting about 42,000 people and covering 1.8 million square miles, making it the largest OCD in history.

Before loading cargo onto 85 C-130 aircraft missions from the U.S. Air Force and other nations, the 44th APS performed a joint inspection to ensure the payloads were safely secured and configured correctly.

"Operation Christmas Drop is sharing our inafa'maolek. In the Chamorro culture, inafa'maolek promotes harmony, cooperation, and mutual respect among individuals and within the community," said Senior Airman Joneen Terlaje, 44th APS. "It emphasizes the importance of maintaining positive relationships, resolving conflicts peacefully and working together for the community's well-being. Let's continue to share our inafa'maolek."

Citizen Airmen also worked with parachute riggers from Yokota Air Base and Andersen AFB, and eight of them had the opportunity to fly on U.S. aircraft as military personnel dropped the cargo onto remote islands.

"For me, Operation Christmas Drop represents the magic that happens when people come together to make a positive impact, no matter where they are in the world," said Senior Airman Ryan Pablo, 44th APS.

The annual humanitarian mission began in 1952 and is the Department of Defense's longest-running humanitarian airlift operation. Andersen AFB has participated in OCD for the past 72 years.

Each year, the Christmas drops serve as a proving ground for the techniques used and shared with regional partners in preparation for response to natural disasters across the Pacific region. The mission reaches remote islands across the Pacific, including locations in the Federated States of Micronesia and the Republic of Palau.