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NEWS | Nov. 15, 2022

Alaska National Guard to bring Christmas cheer to three remote villages

By 1st Lt. Balinda O'Neal

The Alaska National Guard and local community volunteers are gearing up to share their time-honored tradition of Operation Santa Claus by spreading goodwill and cheer to three remote Alaskan communities again this year.

Scammon Bay, Minto and Nuiqsut will soon celebrate with Santa, Mrs. Claus and dozens of elfin volunteers in the 67th year of the program.

In partnership with the Salvation Army, the event is part of the Alaska National Guard’s yearly community relations and support program that provides gifts and supplies to children in communities across the state.

This year’s operation will trade in Santa’s sleigh for an Air National Guard C-17 Globemaster III and HC-130J Combat King II aircraft from the 176th Wing, and Army National Guard UH-60 and HH-60 Black Hawk helicopters from 38th Troop Command.

Operation Santa Claus began in 1956 after spring floods, followed by a drought, impacted subsistence fishing and hunting, requiring St. Mary’s Mission to purchase food. This created a challenge for them to provide Christmas gifts for the children, so the National Guard flew in donated gifts and supplies.

The annual mission allows the Alaska National Guard to maintain its partnership with Alaskan communities and foster a positive civil-military relationship for security, prosperity and strength.