Operation Christmas Drop 2017 comes to an end
By Airman 1st Class Juan Torres, 374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
/ Published December 20, 2017
Yokota Air Base, Japan -- After another successful year, U.S. Air Force, Royal Australian Air Force and Koku Jieitai Airmen helped deliver Christmas to 54 Micronesian islands during Operation Christmas Drop 2017.
Celebrating its 66th year, OCD is the longest-running Department of Defense humanitarian airlift training operation providing nearly 25 tons of critical supplies to approximately 20,000 people on these islands.
To make this event a success, Team Yokota brought 108 personnel from operations, maintenance, aircrew flight equipment, riggers, joint airdrop inspectors, and public affairs. This team, coupled with 3 of Yokota’s new C-130 J-models, worked tirelessly for two weeks while at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam to make sure that all of the 120 bundles were delivered and every training objective was met.
“100 percent”, said Maj Christopher Dolby, OCD mission commander. “We completed every one of our objectives successfully for Operation Christmas Drop this year.”
The U.S. Air Force and its partners flew a total of 27 sorties, accumulating approximately 150 flying hours, providing much needed supplies to people throughout the Micronesia region as well as enabling world-class trilateral training that these aircrews cannot get anywhere else.
The U.S. Air Force’s ability to interoperate with allies and like-minded partners is critical to address broader shared interests across the Indo-Asia Pacific region.
“Our goal long term is to see more of our allies participating in OCD,” said Col. Kenneth Moss, 374th Airlift Wing commander. “This is not just about the U.S. Air Force and America reaching out to people in Micronesia, this is about human connections and people who believe in the same goal; making the world better for everyone.”
The goal of OCD is to provide the Airmen from the 36th Airlift Squadron, the only active duty C-130 unit in the region, with tactical airlift training, which is a vital part of the U.S. Pacific Command's crisis response capability.
Yokota's 36th AS is the world's leader in advancing Low-Cost Low-Altitude airdrop capabilities. Each year, OCD serves as a proving ground for the techniques used and shared with our regional partners in preparation for response to natural disasters and possible contingencies across the region.
“The LCLA is a very flexible way to deliver supplies to locations that aren’t normally accessible,” said Moss. “Most of our airdrops go through a pre-surveyed drop-zone with Airmen out there measuring distances and taking a look at their surroundings, but that won’t always be the case and this type of mission allows us to use a very flexible set of techniques and procedures. That kind of dynamic delivery capability will be very important to have in a contingency operation where the battlefield is fluid and you need people to be able to make adjustments and this training prepares us for it.”
A few things made this year’s OCD mission different from past missions. Over the last year, Yokota’s 36 AS has transitioned from the C-130H model to the C-130J. Having the newer, more modern model here allowed the aircrews increased range and efficiency to complete the mission.
Also new this year, a third international partner, the Philippine Air Force, was on-hand to observe and plan for potential future participation. Two Philippine AF pilots and two loadmasters made the trip hoping to gain valuable insight into the training opportunities that this mission provides with hopes for coming back next year with their own C-130 aircraft.
Getting the honor of flying for the final bundle drop on the last day of Operation Christmas Drop, was Yokota’s wing commander, who got to see first-hand what this event means not only for the Airmen in his wing, but for all of the people impacted by these bundles.
“The best part of being here for that last flight is seeing the great results of OCD,” said Moss. “To know all these missions reached out to over 20,000 people spread out over an area as large as the continental U.S. and knowing that we made a difference in their life again this year is spectacular.”