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NEWS | Jan. 21, 2021

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

By Staff Sgt. Solomon Navarro Task Force Oceania

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 noncommissioned 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.

COVID-19 remains a global challenge that no nation can face alone – our strong network of alliances and partnerships is critical to combating this virus. U.S. Embassies, U.S. Army Pacific, and the members of Task Force Oceania across the Pacific stand ready and prepared to operate responsibly in Oceania.