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ROK, US Airmen prepare for Operation Christmas Drop

  • Published
  • Seventh Air Force Public Affairs

The Republic of Korea (ROK) and U.S. Airmen joined forces recently to prepare for the 70th anniversary of Operation Christmas Drop, which dates back to 1952 and is the longest running Department of Defense humanitarian and disaster relief training mission.

Osan Air Base, ROK, hosted the training. Both nations’ aircrews met up for an academic session and together they conducted airdrop practice utilizing the installation’s runway for takeoff and landing.

“It was a valuable joint training event enabling the exchange of tactics, techniques and procedures improving interoperability between the forces,” said Maj Joseph Park, 607th Air Support Operations Group air mobility liaison officer, who facilitated the event. “It was a chance to learn from each other with a shared goal of maintaining trust, proficiency and readiness.”

This year is unique as it is the first year ROK Airmen had the opportunity to participate in the dual-hatted operation.

“This training mission is not only a tradition, but provides relevant and real training necessary for our Airmen and partner nations in the Indo-Pacific region,” said Gen. Ken Wilsbach, Pacific Air Forces commander.  “I want to thank our partner nations, whether they participate in the air drop or serve as an international observer, because together we’re working to strengthen our readiness and resolve for when the next disaster strikes in the region.”

Each year, C-130 Hercules aircrews airdrop food, fishing equipment and clothing to more than 55 remote islands in the South-Eastern Pacific, including the Federated States of Micronesia and the Republic of Palau.  The drop zones stretch across a 1.8 million square nautical mile operating area and the goods reach more than 20,000 people.

Additionally, the practice and execution of Operation Christmas Drop allows for training of low-altitude air drops of palletized items---a critical training event that improves interoperability and communication for future real world humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions. 

The Operation Christmas Drop team made every effort to minimize the risk to those we serve by ensuring all pilots and crewmembers are fully vaccinated, requiring that all packed boxes be left untouched and open for hours before closing, and requiring all participants handling donations to wear gloves and facemasks, as well as observe recommended hygiene habits such as hand washing and sanitizing and social distancing.