Task Force Oceania Supports Operation Christmas Drop 2020 in the Republic of Palau

By Solomon NavarroJanuary 20, 2021

The U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Palau, John Hennessey-Niland with wife Julie Hennessey-Niland, and Deputy Chief of Mission, Gwen Llewellyn with Task Force Oceania Team Palau, officer-in-charge, Maj. Gamble See assist retrieval efforts in support of Operation Christmas Drop 2020 in the Republic of Palau, Dec 6. Operation Christmas Drop is a unique aircrew training opportunity and operationally validated by Pacific Air Forces and the transport of donated goods is conducted legally under an approved Denton Program Humanitarian Aid Application. COVID-19 will change the way we organize, train, and equip for this event in 2020, but will not deter our ability to drive mission success and safely air drop humanitarian assistance supplies while showing our commitment to our partnerships.
1 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – The U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Palau, John Hennessey-Niland with wife Julie Hennessey-Niland, and Deputy Chief of Mission, Gwen Llewellyn with Task Force Oceania Team Palau, officer-in-charge, Maj. Gamble See assist retrieval efforts in support of Operation Christmas Drop 2020 in the Republic of Palau, Dec 6. Operation Christmas Drop is a unique aircrew training opportunity and operationally validated by Pacific Air Forces and the transport of donated goods is conducted legally under an approved Denton Program Humanitarian Aid Application. COVID-19 will change the way we organize, train, and equip for this event in 2020, but will not deter our ability to drive mission success and safely air drop humanitarian assistance supplies while showing our commitment to our partnerships. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
A U.S. Air Force C-130 Hercules from Andersen Air Force Base conducts a low-cost low-altitude air-drop in support of Operation Christmas Drop 2020 in the Republic of Palau, Dec 10. Operation Christmas Drop is an annual USAF tradition of packaging and delivering food, tools and clothing to more than 55 remote islands in the South-Eastern Pacific. We continue to ask our people to protect themselves and those around them by employing protective measures including wearing masks, practicing hand washing, social distancing, and restriction of movement where applicable, and taking appropriate actions if feeling sick.
2 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – A U.S. Air Force C-130 Hercules from Andersen Air Force Base conducts a low-cost low-altitude air-drop in support of Operation Christmas Drop 2020 in the Republic of Palau, Dec 10. Operation Christmas Drop is an annual USAF tradition of packaging and delivering food, tools and clothing to more than 55 remote islands in the South-Eastern Pacific. We continue to ask our people to protect themselves and those around them by employing protective measures including wearing masks, practicing hand washing, social distancing, and restriction of movement where applicable, and taking appropriate actions if feeling sick. (Photo Credit: Maj. M. Gamble See) VIEW ORIGINAL
Families on the island of Kayangel, Palau, welcome U.S. service members as they conduct a low-cost low-altitude air-drop in support of Operation Christmas Drop 2020, Dec 7. The capabilities employed during OCD are unique due to the inclusion of Coastal Humanitarian Air Drop (CHAD), which incorporates the low-cost and low-altitude (LCLA) capability to the types of environments we see throughout the Pacific. CHAD and LCLA represent a unique Humanitarian Aid/Disaster Relief or wartime capability that enables crews to respond rapidly anywhere in the area of responsibility. Every effort is being made to keep all participants and recipients involved safe and healthy so we can continue to carry out this amazing tradition of humanitarian assistance.
3 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Families on the island of Kayangel, Palau, welcome U.S. service members as they conduct a low-cost low-altitude air-drop in support of Operation Christmas Drop 2020, Dec 7. The capabilities employed during OCD are unique due to the inclusion of Coastal Humanitarian Air Drop (CHAD), which incorporates the low-cost and low-altitude (LCLA) capability to the types of environments we see throughout the Pacific. CHAD and LCLA represent a unique Humanitarian Aid/Disaster Relief or wartime capability that enables crews to respond rapidly anywhere in the area of responsibility. Every effort is being made to keep all participants and recipients involved safe and healthy so we can continue to carry out this amazing tradition of humanitarian assistance. (Photo Credit: Maj. M. Gamble See) VIEW ORIGINAL

U.S. EMBASSY KOROR — The 9th Mission Support Command’s Task Force Oceania Team Palau helped the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Embassy at Koror carry out Operation Christmas Drop 2020. The success of OCD 20 was the result of months of planning and coordination between the U.S. military, the State Department, and several Pacific island countries.

Task Force Oceania’s Team Palau worked closely with local government officials in Koror, Kayangel, Anguar, Peleliu, Tobi, Sonsorol, and Pulo Anna islands to ensure the local communities would be ready to receive the Christmas bundles of food, tools, clothing, and toys.

“Each year here in Palau, family and friends gather together to celebrate Christmas. It is a time of promise, hope and anticipation. One thing the people anticipate most are the bundles that the U.S. Air Force’s C-130s drop from above during this dual-purpose training and humanitarian mission,” said Maj. Gamble See, Task Force Oceania’s civil affairs team officer-in-charge. “This mission to ‘deliver love from above’ has been ongoing for 69 years and is an annual highlight for young and old alike across not only Palau, but also the Pacific.

To overcome the challenge of managing so many drop zones on so many islands, each of the two-person civil affairs team Soldiers traveled separately to a different island each day to provide maximum support across the four-day operation.

“Even in our tropical paradise, Christmas is an important time of the year,” said Sgt. Yangilmau, the team’s cultural liaison non-commissioned officer. “Everyone was very appreciative and excited but especially in the more remote islands of Anguar and Kayangel where supplies are harder to come by.”

This training mission is humanitarian in nature and involves low-cost low-altitude air drops from C-130 Hercules aircraft to deliver supplies to more than 20,000 people on islands spread out across 1.8 million square nautical miles.

"It was great to see how the kids were very excited and happy about the drops,” said Tramp Derbai, a local guard force member at the U.S. Embassy. “During this pandemic, people are struggling financially, and Operation Christmas Drop will help the people that need it the most, especially during this holiday season where families are trying to make ends meet."

Socially distanced teams wearing recommended protective gear on shift work prepared the donations into bundles that were disinfected prior to delivery across the islands, thereby ensuring the safety of everyone who received items from the drops.