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    Jutba; a Spirit Remembered During Operation Christmas Drop

    Jutba; a Spirit Remembered During Operation Christmas Drop

    Photo By Staff Sgt. Gabrielle Spalding | An Airman with Yokota Air Base, Japan, writes a message on a bundle during a ceremony...... read more read more

    “This is for you, Jutba.” “Gone but not forgotten.” “Here’s to you.”

    Written messages like these and pictures of the late Senior Airman Jeremy Jutba-Hake, 36th Airlift Squadron, Yokota Air Base, Japan, instructor loadmaster, adorned bundles which were airdropped onto the remote island of Koror, Republic of Palau, during the last day of Operation Christmas Drop 2020, Dec. 10.

    As the world’s longest running humanitarian airdrop mission operating for the last 69 years, OCD has continued its efforts of providing critical items to the people who live on the islands throughout the South-Eastern Pacific region; a mission that has remained a positive aspect for the families on those islands.

    For Tech. Sgt. Lou Splichal, OCD 2020 senior enlisted leader, the foundation of OCD and who Jutba was as a person, the two have become synonymous.

    “Jutba was a consummate gentleman of the Pacific,” said Splichal. “He would literally give you the shirt off his back; constantly thinking about the group as whole, and not just about himself. He was the embodiment of the Aloha spirit.”

    Jutba unexpectedly passed away due to an unknown heart condition during OCD 2015. The following year, the 36th AS began this tradition of commemorating his legacy by holding a ceremony on a C-130 before airdropping bundles in his name, which continues to this day.

    “It’s important that we keep honoring him in this way, so that he is not forgotten,” said Splichal. “From day one he was a valuable member of the C-130 family. He worked so hard to get those wings and lost them doing something that we all love.”

    Splichal, who began his career as a loadmaster with Jutba, reminisced about his devotion to helping others. It was at the core of who he was as a person.

    “Him and I were together at Little Rock [Air Force Base, Arkansas],” recollected Splichal. “When I first arrived there, Jutba, for no other reason than because he was a good guy, came up to me and introduced himself to me, because he understood what it was to be the new guy.”

    While a part of the mobility section at Little Rock, Jutba made a name for himself as someone who could be relied on for more than just what was expected of him.

    “He was the go-to guy,” said Splichal. “People just knew he was the one who had the answers. And not because he was weaponizing his knowledge, he genuinely cared. People who care just for the sake of caring, they’re going to stand out, and he did.”

    Taking care of his peers and being an essential part of the community was just who Jutba was as a person, said Splichal. His legacy, as not only an integral part of the Air Force, but also his positive and compassionate personality is why this important tradition remains a significant part of the OCD mission.

    Honoring him in this way, Jutba’s spirit remains alive in the hearts and minds of those throughout the Air Force community who knew him and for those who will know him through stories and ceremonies held for him during Christmas Drops for years to come.



    Date Taken: 12.13.2020
    Date Posted: 12.12.2020 18:48
    Story ID: 384862
    Location: GU

    Web Views: 430
    Downloads: 1