US Stamps

‘A Christmas Salute’ handstamp pays tribute to the season

Dec 22, 2019, 9 AM

U.S. Stamp Notes by John M. Hotchner

The doctrine of separation of church and state combined with today’s level of political correctness would probably nix what was done on the 1963 Department of the Air Force cover shown in Figure 1. Handstamped onto the cover is “A Christmas Salute,” a fitting recognition of the season.

A later military recognition of Christmas is evident on the 1989 cover in Figure 2. It marked the annual 605th Military Airlift Support Squadron’s flight from Andersen Air Force Base on Guam to drop Christmas presents to isolated areas of Micronesia.

In 1989 six C-130 planes carried 70 boxes (with a value of $16,000 in donated material) airdropped to 36 islands between Dec. 11 and Dec. 15.

The Guam Stamp Club prepared the envelopes, and 300 of them were aboard the Dec. 12 flight.

The annual Operation Christmas Drop continues, though I know of no other years with commemorative covers. Started in 1952, it is the Department of Defense’s longest-running humanitarian airlift operation.

Having spent some time on Guam many years ago, I can testify that Andersen Air Force Base was a memorable experience. The main runways are southwest-northeast, and when taking off to the east, planes suddenly run out of runway as they fly off the top of a cliff that drops off into the Pacific Ocean.

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