Operation Christmas Drop 2023

As always at this time of the year, the United States Air Force has recently performed a humanitarian event known as the Operation Christmas Drop. Similarly to previous editions, the operation involved the United States and their partner nations and provided essential supplies to remote islands in the Indo-Pacific region.

The current edition of the Operation Christmas Drop began on 3rd December, when the first aircraft assigned to that humanitarian mission took-off from Andersen Air Force Base at Guam. As usual, the supplies were intended for remote islands across the Pacific Ocean, including locations in the Federated States of Micronesia and the Republic of Palau.

The support provided for inhabitants of the islands included non-perishable food, fishing supplies, schoolbooks and staple toys for the youngest.

´Operation Christmas Drop showcases our continued partnership and shared values´, said Maj. Zach Overbey, 36th Airlift Squadron, C-130J Super Hercules pilot and OCD23 mission commander. ´It is an absolute honour to come together with our Allies and partners to spread a little holiday joy and make a positive impact in the region´.

Supply drops were led by the 374th Airlift Wing of the USAF being based at Yokota AFB in Japan, and involved military personnel from the 36th Wing at Andersen AFB and the 515th Air Mobility Wing at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

This year´s edition of the Operation Christmas Drop was performed with assistance and effort of partner nations and their air forces – the Japan Air Self Defence Force, the Republic of Korea Air Force and the Royal Canadian Air Force, as well as the ground operations teams from the Philippine Air Force and the Royal Australian Air Force. The aircraft used during the operation were and C-130H Hercules and C-130J Super Hercules.

OCD23 elephant walk – USAF C-130J Super Hercules / RCAF C-130J Super Hercules / JASDF C-130H Hercules and ROKAF C-130H Hercules at Andersen AFB, Guam (USAF photo by Tech. Sgt. Taylor Altier)
Santa 73 – multinational formation flight during OCD23 (USAF photo by Yasuo Osakabe)

It should be underlined that current edition of the Operation Christmas Drop was marked with the debut participation of the RCAF, as well as with presence of international observers from Germany, Indonesia, Malaysia, the United Kingdom, Bangladesh, Mongolia, Nepal, the Netherlands, Sri Lanka, and Thailand.

´It was really a great experience here, I didn’t expect it to be such a huge event´, said Nepali Army Col. Bikram Gurung, Special Forces. ´The Christmas Drop main missions were amazing – just out of my imagination. The C-130 low-flying and airdrops landing at islands across Micronesia was my favourite experience. I would like to give my thanks to the USAF for the opportunity to come here, it felt like home´.

The Operation Christmas Drop was established back in 1952. It is currently the longest-running humanitarian and disaster relief mission led by the US Department of Defense. On annual basis, the operation provides the supply for over 20 thousand people across the Indo-Pacific region. This year, during six days of the OCD23 mission, the C-130 crews delivered a total of 210 supply bundles to fifty-eight islands.

More information about the history of the Operation Christmas Drop can be found here, in our article about the 2022 edition of the mission.

Bundles of humanitarian aid drop to an island in the Federated States of Micronesia, OCD 23 (USAF photo by Senior Airman Lauren Clevenger)
USAF Maj. Zach ´Badger´ Overbey, OCD 23 mission commander and pilot, holds up a peace sign on the ramp of a C-130J Super Hercules after airdropping humanitarian aid for the islanders of Koror, Dec. 3, 2023 (USAF photo by Tech. Sgt. Taylor Altier)

Cover photo: A USAF C-130J Super Hercules delivers humanitarian aid over Mogmog, Federated States of Micronesia Dec. 5, 2023 – OCD23 (USAF photo by Senior Airman Brooklyn Golightly).
All photos © U.S. Department of Defence (DoD). DoD information materials were used, in compliance with Public Domain licence. The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.