Operation Christmas Drop volunteers pack bundles

by Airman 1st Class Juan Torres, 374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Stripes Japan

Andersen Air Force Base, Guam -- Getting into the spirit of the holidays, with smiles on their faces and Santa hats on their heads, hundreds of volunteers gathered to fill nearly 140 supply bundles for the start of the 66th Operation Christmas Drop, Dec. 9, 2017, at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam.

As volunteers from all over the region arrived at the 734th Air Mobility Squadron hangar, they were greeted by lines of boxes ready to be filled with critical supplies that mean so much to the islanders throughout the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas, Federated State of Micronesia, and Republic of Palau. The islands are some of the most remote locations on the globe, spanning a distance nearly as broad as the continental U.S.

Service members from the U.S. Air Force, Royal Australian Air Force, Koku Jieitai and Philippine Air Force teamed up with Operation Christmas Drop committee members, family members, boy scouts, booster clubs and many other volunteers to ensure that each box was filled to the top.

“We’re a part of something special that’s been going on for 66 years,” said Col. Sergio J. Vega Jr., 374th Airlift Wing vice commander. “It’s an amazing event seeing our partner nations and the community coming together and doing this to serve other folks.”

After each bundle is filled, it is inspected and weighed by members of the 374th Logistics Readiness Squadron combat mobility flight from Yokota to ensure they can be loaded and dropped safely to the 56 islands over the next 10 days.

The teamwork demonstrated during the bundle build is a representation of how Airmen and the community from across the region come together to lend a helping hand to our partners and allies in the Pacific.

For many Airmen participating in the operation, lending a hand has been a very rewarding experience in their career.

“It’s something special when you fly over these islands and you see the locals wave at you from the ground,” said Maj. George Metros, 36th Airlift Squadron evaluator pilot. “Seeing their expressions and just being able to give back a little bit is awesome.”

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