Ambassador Carmen G. Cantor joined H.E. President David W. Panuelo, First Lady Patricia Edwin, Vice Speaker Esmond B. Moses, and other key FSM National and State level dignitaries to witness the package drop for Pakin Atoll. Traveling aboard an FSM Surveillance boat, the FSS Independence, the group observed an American Air-Force C-130 (Callsign: Santa 31) drop packages at approximately 6:15 pm on Tuesday, December 7th.
Operation Christmas Drop (OCD) is a tradition that began during the Christmas season in 1952 when a B-29 Superfortress aircrew saw islanders waving at them from the island of Kapingamarangi, Federated States of Micronesia. In the spirit of Christmas, the aircrew dropped a bundle of supplies attached to a parachute to the islanders below, giving the operation its name. Today, OCD operations include more than fifty-five islands throughout the Pacific. The 10-day drop, which began December 5th, will include donated food, supplies, educational materials, and tools.
OCD is the Department of Defense’s longest-running humanitarian airlift operation. In addition to its crucial humanitarian aspect, Operation Christmas Drop is a multi-nation training event in which C-130 aircrews from the United States, Japan, and the Republic of Korea will airdrop food, fishing equipment, educational materials, and toys to islanders throughout the FSM.
According to the Anderson Airfield website, “Months leading up the drop dates volunteers create donation drop-off boxes and raise money from local businesses and citizens. A week before the drop, volunteer Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, civilians, contractors, and families assist in picking up and sorting the donations.”
Together, American Air Force Personnel are working with partner nations to execute low-cost, low-altitude training airdrops. Per Andersen Air Force Base’s Website, this is noted to be “a critical training event improving interoperability and communication for future real world humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions.”
Prior to departure from Pohnpei proper, the Office of the President consulted the Mwohnsapw of Sokehs. Prior to the drop, the group was received by Traditional Chief Sounirek Pakin and the community in Pakin.
President Panuelo, when asked what the significance of the drop to the People of the FSM is, responded with: “Operation Christmas Drop is arguably the premier example of our Constitution’s Preamble in action. We all know that the FSM extends to all nations that which we seek: peace, friendship, cooperation, and love in our common humanity. Is there any better example of peace than to drop food, equipment, toys, and supplies, instead of weapons? Is there any better example of friendship than to spend months of preparation to ensure that remote communities receive the things they actually need, such as fishing supplies and rice, and want, such as toys? Is there any better example of cooperation than to coordinate multiple Governments at the national, state, and municipal level, across dozens of islands, with multiple armed forces, for the explicit purpose of making Christmas absolutely amazing? Is there any better example of love in our common humanity than to appreciate that, at its core, Operation Christmas Drop began its life as a genuinely nice thing to do, and has continued on that same premise for 70 years?”
“Thank you to all the men and women who donated supplies, and who flew the planes,” President Panuelo continued. “Whether you are from Guam or the US mainland, or Japan or Korea, thank you so much for making Christmas 2021 so bright. My hope is that, in the far future where all of us alive are today are a distant memory, that Operation Christmas Drop continues as an annual event, spreading cheer and joy across the Pacific.”
Ambassador Cantor said about the OCD: “It was a great honor to join President Panuelo, the First Lady, and other FSM Government Officials for this historic 70th drop. It is a joyous example of people working together as enduring partners to contribute to the common good for so many holiday seasons. I want to thank our armed forces and everyone who contributed to making this 70th OCD event a success.”
For more information, please visit https://www.andersen.af.mil/ocd/, Embassy Kolonia’s Facebook Page (@EmbassyKolonia), and the Office of the President’s Facebook Page (@piofsm)