HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. --
All Holloman Air Force Base Airmen have been called upon once more to aid Santa during his deliveries throughout the Southwestern United States.
Airmen prepare to help Santa on Christmas Eve with the base’s three primary aircraft; the F-16 Fighting Falcon, MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper.
Holloman has offered not only protection, but also logistic support to Santa Clause this year.
The recently re-designated 635th Material Maintenance Group offers packaging and storage for toys, as well as food for Santa’s reindeer.
“The 635th Materiel Maintenance Group’s part in Operation Assist Santa this year was delivering and packaging hundreds of thousands of gifts for the children in the Southwest,” said Airman 1st Class Juston, a 635th Materiel Maintenance Squadron BEARset Journeyman. “We organized and packaged the gifts by county for easier transport. This year, we also had the responsibility of storing reindeer food so they have an easier flight in the morning. We always look forward to having Santa around.”
While ensuring the protection of Santa is a key part of Holloman’s Support, reconnaissance also plays a major role during his flight around the world. For one night only, the Holloman remotely piloted aircraft are outfitted with special sensors to save Santa time from having to double check his list.
“It’s been a very busy holiday season this year for the 49th Operations Group,” said Lt. Col. Eric, the 49th Operations Support Squadron commander. “We’ve been busy providing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance to Santa. Another interesting tidbit – if you look at our tailflash, we’re the only unit in the Air Force that has HO as the tailflash. So, whenever he takes off and is flying around, you can hear him calling for our escort – saying ‘HO, HO, HO!’ This year, we’ve worked on two different sensors, one on the MQ-1 and one on the MQ-9. The MQ-9 has a sleep sensor, so we can constantly send Santa updates on houses – who’s up and who’s not up. On the MQ-1 is a naughty-or-nice sensor. Santa knows who has been naughty or nice, but once he packs up his sled, he doesn’t necessarily get the most updated list. We get that information, and if there are any last-minute changes, we can get him the most up-to-date information. Last but not least, the 49th OSS uses RAPCON to make sure there are no other aircraft around that could interfere with Santa’s flight plans.”
Finally, F-16 Fighting Falcons from the 54th Fighter Group provided security detail for Santa throughout his journey.
“This year the 54th Fighter Group executed Operation Noble Partridge,” said F-16 pilot, Capt. Daniel. “We provided three F-16s in support of Santa as he made his travels around the Southwestern United States. We provided security escort as part of the 49th Wing’s Operation Assist Santa. We flew escort and kept an eye out for Krampus, who (we received intelligence) was planning an attack. It’s always an honor to assist Santa, keep him safe, and make sure he gets presents to all the children on his list.”