CHRISTMAS DROP BRINGS CHEER TO REMOTE MICRONESIA

By Katie Worth

HAGATNA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Dec. 26) - Some 40,000 pounds of food, water, clothes and toys were dropped on 42 remote Micronesian islands last week, the culmination of a year's worth of work by organizers.

Air Force Capt. Christopher Carmichael, the chairman of the Christmas Drop Committee, said the massive effort required full-time volunteer work by organizers, and that they collected about $100,000 worth of goods - about twice as much as they could use this year. The excess will be stored for next year's drop.

The effort will begin again in a few weeks, with organizers already beginning to plan for next year's drop, which will be the U.S. Air Force's 52nd Christmas Drop.

This year, airmen and women from Yokota Air Base dropped packages over three days. They had previously planned a four-day effort, but the first day was canceled because their C-130 cargo planes needed maintenance.

However, they were able to service most of the islands they missed the first day in the following days, said Lt. Col. Chuck Eastman, deploy commander for the Christmas air drops. He said only three islands originally planned for were not serviced.

In the past, the Air Force has dropped packages on remote islands for as many as seven days, Eastman said, but he said this year the drop was limited to four days because the air squadron had to complete training requirements to maintain its wartime capabilities.

Carmichael said he volunteered 30 to 40 hours a week of his personal time to the effort, going around to various organizations for donations through the year, and organizing other fund-raisers. Others contributed similar efforts, he said.

Since November, he said, about 40 collection stations were set up around the island and their contents had to be collected each day and taken to a warehouse on Andersen Air Force Base in Yigo.

Later, the contents were sorted, separated into boxes, and fitted with decommissioned parachutes.

From there, the air troops loaded the boxes onto the cargo planes and dropped them on the remote islands.

Carmichael said he devoted so much of his time to the effort primarily for altruistic reasons, but won't be able to chair the committee this year because he will be leaving island in May.

"I just enjoy volunteering. I volunteer a lot of my time for a lot of things. I do because it makes me feel good about humanity and myself," he said. "When the mission was successful and everything was done, it was tremendously rewarding that we actually did something like that. That it actually got done, especially since last year we couldn't get all the boxes out because of the typhoon."

December 26, 2003

Pacific Daily News: www.guampdn.com

 

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