Weekly insights into our crazy world.

Friday, December 18, 2015



We here at the DUNER BLOG wanted to finish off the year 2015 on a positive note. So we looked all over the world to find a heartwarming story. We finally found a uplifting item from the remote Pacific nation of Micronesia. As you read this blog, OPERATION CHRISTMAS DROP is already in full force. Spirited members of the US Air Force have temporarily converted their cargo into Santa's sleighs. Next, they fly to distant islands...slow down...and finally parachute down gifts to the folks below. Ten years ago, the Australian Air Force joined the mission. But this year... Japan will officially take part as well!

Here's how it all started: Back in 1952, an American Weather Reconnaissance Squadron was flying a mission along the Equator. They passed over Pohnpei, a member of the Federated States of Micronesia. When they flew over the atoll of Kapingamarangi, they noticed dozens of islanders waving and smiling at them on the beaches below. Since it was December, the airman gathered up some fun items on board, attached a parachute, and dropped them to the delight of all. Over the decades, the feel-good activity became an annual event. In fact, it's the longest running humanitarian airlift in the world!

Let's look at a specific example: Fais Island. It's small: Only one square mile. The 200 people who live there belong to the Yap Nation State within the Federated States of Micronesia. Their calendar is marked for the exact date and time when the Air Force C-130 cargo plane flies overhead. It slows to 130 knots and then descends to 300 feet above. Finally, a carefully choreographed team waits for the precise time to push the boxes out of the back. "You do feel a kinship with these folks when you see them on the ground waving," explained USAF Commander Doug DeLeMater.

Each year, the Air Force adds a new item to the box. This year, soccer balls will be included with the usual: Canned food, fishing nets, books, clothing, school supplies, rice, powdered milk and water. All toll, over 50,000 pounds of supplies will be distributed to 56 separate islands in Micronesia. (These are numbers Santa would be impressed with!) The airmen who get assigned the duty use it as training for future humanitarian and military air-drops, most notably in Afghanistan and Somalia.

Adding Japan makes the news item even more touching. Of course...in the world of geopolitical strategy...the US added Japan as a message to the overbearing Chinese Navy to stay out of Micronesia. But in today's already chaotic world, we here at the DUNER BLOG are viewing the additions to OPERATION CHRISTMAS DROP as purely humanitarian in aim. Now if only we could get to one of these remote South Pacific Islands in time for Christmas...

Wishing you and yours a Happiest of Holidays! Cheers. DUNER

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