Face of Defense: ‘Santa’ Delivers Fuel to Overseas Troops
By Air Force Staff Sgt. Nathanael Callon
379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
SOUTHWEST ASIA, Dec. 27, 2011 It seemed like Santa Claus paid a surprise visit to the 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron here Dec. 23, to assist in an airdrop delivery to remote forward operating bases in Afghanistan.
Attired as Santa Claus, Air Force Tech. Sgt. Mike Morris pushes a pallet of fuel onto a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft in Southwest Asia, Dec. 23, 2011. The 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron airdropped 40 pallets of fuel to remote forward operating bases in Afghanistan. The fuel will be used for generators, heaters and vehicles. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nathanael Callon
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
"I just wanted to bring a little holiday cheer to the men and women of the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing and help out with a very special holiday delivery," chuckled ‘Santa,’ portrayed by Air Force Tech. Sgt. Mike Morris, the 816th squadron’s loadmaster flight noncommissioned officer in charge and native of Charleston, S.C.
The delivery -- 160 barrels of fuel -- was loaded onto a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft under Santa's command.
The fuel will be used for generators, vehicles and heaters to keep service members warm in the frigid mountains of eastern Afghanistan, said Air Force Staff Sgt. Mike Folk, 816th EAS loadmaster and native of Frazeysburg, Ohio.
"This fuel is going to help keep them warm and let them continue to accomplish their mission," Folk said.
Morris' precision as a loadmaster comes from years of experience configuring loads for his sleigh rides across the globe to deliver presents.
“‘Santa’ is sometimes a little hard to work for," Folk said. "His operations are generally more large-scale, so his work ethic definitely reflects that."
The 816th transported about 3 million pounds of cargo and personnel to forward locations throughout Southwest Asia last month.
"It's a huge part of what we do around here and it's important that we sustain the warfighters," said Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Kevin Kloeppel, the squadron’s superintendent and native of Sante Fe, N.M.
"With the fuel, water, food and supplies that we drop off, we can sustain their mission," he added.
The 816th EAS works with the U.S. Army’s 421st Quartermaster Company Parachute Riggers and the 8th Expeditionary Air Mobility Squadron to get the job done.
"The riggers build the pallets, the 8th EAMS brings the cargo to the plane, and we deliver the supplies," Kloeppel said. "It's truly a team effort to get the mission accomplished."