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Operation Toy Drop: A Tradition of Giving

  • Published
  • By Col. Timothy Zadalis
  • 43rd Airlift Wing Commander
It is again time for the Roy Olmer Memorial Operation Toy Drop, which is a wonderful opportunity to make a family's holiday a little bit brighter. Every year, Fort Bragg and Pope personnel plan an event to collect donated toys and provide Christmas gifts to military families and needy local charities. Army and Air Force personnel register to jump Dec. 16 and 17 to earn foreign jump wings -- a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for them. The cost of registration is one donated toy, which will benefit others.

This event is as much a part of Pope's holiday tradition as many of the other events that we have during the year. However, to make the event a success, we need help from active duty personnel, civilians, retirees and family members, not to jump, but to wrap donated toys in Pax Shed 3. Other volunteer opportunities include jumper registration, lottery drawing, toy collection and sorting, cooking hamburgers and serving as stand-by drivers.

The pre-registration and toy collection will take place Dec. 15 from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Toy wrapping will begin at 9:30 a.m. Dec. 16, and will last until every donated gift is wrapped. You can make a difference in a child's life by participating in this fantastic event. If you would like to help out, contact Harris Luther, our tremendous project officer, at 394-4839 or Master Sgt. David Christman at 394-1240.

Also helping to make Operation Toy Drop a huge success are Capts. Jason Reed and Todd Shugart, 2nd Airlift Squadron.

You will also have the opportunity to watch the drops on bleachers available at Sicily Drop Zone. Everybody is welcome.

I would also like to thank Ed Drohan and Tech. Sgt. Vicki Johnson, 43rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs, and Annie Niece, 43rd Airlift Wing Protocol Office, for ensuring our visit with seven Bulgarian mayors was a huge success. Pope excellence was on display to an international audience and Airman 1st Class Reni Angelova, 3rd Aerial Port Squadron, shared her inspiring story of coming to the United States and joining the Air Force -- if there were any remnants of the Cold War, she thawed them!

I want to congratulate Capt. Crystal Penney, 43rd Operations Support Squadron, Air Force Reserve IMA Intelligence CGO of the Year, and Ira Shaw, 43rd Medical Support Squadron, Air Mobility Command's 2006 Blacks in Government Meritorious Service Award.

I would also like to congratulate Master Sgt. Jason Baker and Senior Airman Rebekah Diky, 43rd Civil Engineer Squadron, for being selected as AMC's nominees for the prestigious Society of Military Engineers' Goddard Medal and the prestigious Maj. Gen. Eugene Lupia Award, respectively.

I would like to thank Master Sgt. Michael Reeves, 43rd Airlift Wing, for planning an outstanding Enlisted Career Bazaar -- it was an outstanding event.

Finally, I want to thank Lt. Gen. John Vines, XVIII Airborne Corps commander, for being such a tremendous supporter of Pope. The relationship between the Airmen at Pope and the soldiers at Fort Bragg is a direct result of his leadership. He is relinquishing command to Maj. Gen. Lloyd Austin III, who I look forward to serving with and continuing the legacy of jointness that defines Fort Bragg and Pope.

Our 43rd Civil Engineer Squadron firefighters deserve a huge pat on the back for the rescue of the man who was severely burned last week. They responded to a fire in Spring Lake and took control of a life-threatening situation. They administered aid and coordinated and set up a landing zone for the Cape Fear Life Flight helicopter, which transported the victim directly to Chapel Hill Burn Center.

Lastly, as we enter the holiday season don't forget those personnel who are deployed. Our 2nd Airlift Squadron and fantastic 43rd Maintenance Group personnel just closed out their first month and ensured the safe transport of 19,000 soldiers and 300 tons of cargo, and the successful completion of more than 600 combat sorties. They will be flying and maintaining aircraft through the holidays. We need to keep all our deployed personnel from the 43rd AW, 23rd Fighter Group and 18th Air Support Operations Group in our thoughts and prayers.

Remember, Be SAFE and ALWAYS be there for your WINGMAN.