FORT BRAGG, N.C. –
The U.S. Army Civil Affairs & Psychological Operations Command (Airborne) is hosting the 20th annual Randy Oler Memorial Operation Toy Drop, which is the largest international airborne operation conducted worldwide.
This year, eight countries are participating and they include Colombia, Canada, Latvia, the Netherlands, Sweden, Italy, Germany and Poland. Toy Drop is scheduled to run from Nov 30 to Dec. 8, 2017.
Coordinating an operation of this scale requires more than airplanes and airfields. USACAPOC(A) support personnel have been working diligently to keep our Soldiers and foreign counterparts well-fed, safe and comfortable.
“Our role here, from a food service perspective, is that we are going to provide food sustainment for 180 troops that are essentially part of the overall ground and air operations,” said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Richard Peregoy, a senior food services adviser. “We’ll typically support at least three locations and those locations get supported with a breakfast meal, a lunch meal, hot soup and coffee.”
USACAPOC (A) does not only prepare and serve food to Soldiers, but they also get to embark on the fun. Seventy-four percent of their support personnel are qualified paratroopers and will participate in the airborne operations from Dec. 4 through Dec. 8.
While part of the exercise is more light-hearted, Peregoy makes a point to mention the safety considerations while supporting the troops this time of year.
“You’ve got an extreme of temperatures when we do this operation every year. Some days it will get up to 80 degrees, other days we’re kicking snow off everybody’s boots. It’s critical that when you’re out in the field or in cantonment you make sure that your troops are nutritionally prepared and fully hydrated and it’s our responsibility to make sure that happens.”
Established in 1998, by then Staff Sgt. Randy Oler, a USACAPOC(A) Soldier, Operation Toy Drop started as a training event and airborne operation. The first Toy Drop had more than 1,200 Soldiers participate with 550 toys donated.
Today, the event allows Soldiers to train on their military occupational specialty, maintain their airborne readiness, and earn foreign jump wings. Soldiers also give back to the local community by contributing to a massive toy drive for local children in need during the holiday season.