News: Big Drop: Lifeliners deliver pallets of food, gifts to troops
Story by Spc. Adam L. Mathis
BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan – Three days before Christmas Brian Burrell of Pensacola, Fla., wasn’t at home with his family or on vacation in a sunny locale, he was rapidly descending toward the ground in Afghanistan in a Casa 212 airplane.
The plane’s descent stopped roughly 150 feet above the ground and the back door opened. A buzzer sounded and Burrell, a civilian loadmaster at Bagram Airfield, pulled a lever and parachutes deployed as pallets stacked with food and gifts from the United States slid out the back of the plane, headed to the grateful servicemembers of Forward Operating Base Joyce.
“It feels good to deliver all of this stuff,” Burrell said.
The “stuff” was part of what the 101st Sustainment Brigade, Task Force Lifeliners, 101st Airborne Division calls the “Big Drop.” Service members and civilians took to the air, Dec. 22, and will continue through Christmas to deliver supplies and donated gifts to forward operating bases that normally do not have access to many of the items people use on a daily basis.
From almost the day they arrived in Afghanistan, Lifeliners were working on this project.
“People spent a lot of money, you know, not just on the items themselves, but they paid a lot for the postage because everybody just seemed to think that they wanted Soldiers to feel that what they were doing was important and that they were missed at Christmas at their homes,” said TF Lifeliners U.S. Army chaplain Maj. Tammie Crews of Fort Campbell, Ky.
Crews said the number of donations they received took days to organize. The 101st and TF Lifeliners donated items for the residents of the outlying FOBs.
“This whole project, I think, is an expression again of how much people appreciate what Soldiers do, regardless of if they understand it or regardless of what they think about the war, they care about the soldier,” Crews said.
Though the Big Drop ends on Christmas, the work of the sustainment brigade is not over. The post-holiday season is time for them to thank everyone who supported the Soldiers.
“What will happen after Christmas is the long task of writing to everybody to say ... how thankful we are,” Crews said.