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After 50 years of dropping presents from the sky, the Air Force postponed its Christmas drop over Guam and Micronesia this week to allow the 36th Airlift Squadron to help rebuild the typhoon-wrecked island.

Super Typhoon Pongsona slammed Guam on Dec. 8, knocking out power, devastating the island and at least delaying the drops.

The Christmas drop will be rescheduled, possibly for January, said 2nd Lt. Jessica Martin, chief of internal information for the 374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs Office at Yokota Air Base, Japan, home of the 36th.

“Our focus right now is the recovery effort in Guam,” Martin said. “The 36th is standing by and ready to go whenever they get the word” that Andersen Air Base is prepared for them.

A special flight this year in honor of the 50th anniversary will go as planned.

“Candy Bomber” Gail Halvorsen, who dropped 23 tons of candy to German children during the 1948-49 Berlin Airlift, will accompany a flight on Dec. 21.

Air Force pilots have swooped across the Pacific dropping sealed boxes of goods and gifts since 1952, when pilots in a weather squadron spotted an islander waving to them and dropped him a box.

For the first 35 years, pilots from the 54th Weather Squadron made the trip. The 36th Airlift Squadron took over in 1987.

The sealed boxes of toys, sporting goods, gardening equipment and supplies donated by people at Yokota Air Base are dropped by parachute from C-130s.

The donated goods already had arrived on Guam when the typhoon hit and some of the goods where damaged, Martin said. The extent of the damage is unknown, but there should be enough for the drops or more donations could be raised.

“They’re still planning on doing the drops,” she said.

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Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.
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