49th Annual Andersen Air Force Base Christmas Drop in Micronesia
Mr. UNDERWOOD. Mr. Speaker, 49 years ago in 1952, over the tiny island of Kapingamarangi in Micronesia, the crew of an Air Force WB-50 aircraft assigned to the 54th Weather Reconnaissance Squadron in Guam quickly gathered a box of goodies they had on the plane upon seeing a number of islanders waving at them. Thus began the five-decade-old tradition.
For years, the residents of Kapingamarangi, Nukuoro and other remote islands have been receiving a variety of gifts such as machetes, hoes, snorkels, coloring books, soccer balls and toiletries--items they probably would not have been able to obtain otherwise due to their remote location in the Pacific. This year, four C-130 Hercules aircraft from the 36th Airlift Squadron based out of Yokota Air Base in Japan dropped 60 boxes of holiday gift items on the 54 islands and atolls in the Micronesia area. The operation lasted six days and entailed cargo planes descending upon sparsely populated islands and atolls. In addition to the goodwill spread among these communities, the aircrew involved also benefit from the opportunity of having their navigation and flight skills tested as they search out unfamiliar drop zones on remote and isolated island locations.
This year's organizers had a bit of difficulty in raising the necessary funding for this project due to Guam's current economic situation. However, the community has somehow managed to get together and, in the true spirit of this season of sharing, allow for another successful year. For the past several months the Christmas Drop committee has raised funds through several events. Three scuba diving boat trips, a 5k run/walk, a golf tournament along with T-shirt and commemorative coin sales generated a substantial part of the funds used for this year's operation. Despite a recent drop in tourism arrivals on Guam, donations steadily flowed from island residents and the local business communities. Also worth mentioning is the effort initiated by Jacob Jansen as part of his community service project in his effort to attain the rank of Eagle Scout. Through Jacob's efforts, a canned food drive was held at Andersen Air Force Base's middle and elementary schools as well as at Guam High School.
During these times of uncertainty and hardship, it is very gratifying to see that worthwhile projects such as the annual Christmas drop remains alive. This is a testament to our capacity to unite as a community and as a nation in the face of adversity. There is no better way to demonstrate our compassion and generosity than worthwhile projects such as this. I take this occasion to commend all those who participated and contributed towards the success of this year's Christmas drop. Let us keep this tradition going for many more years to come.