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Holiday season arrives at McChord with annual Operation Turkey Drop

U.S. Air Force Airmen with Team McChord help distribute turkeys during Operation Turkey Drop at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., Nov. 18, 2021. The Air Force Association McChord Field Chapter and the Pierce Military and Business Alliance organized the drop of more than 300 turkeys to Airmen at Joint Base Lewis-McChord for the Thanksgiving holiday. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Julius Delos Reyes)

U.S. Air Force Airmen with Team McChord help distribute turkeys during Operation Turkey Drop at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., Nov. 18, 2021. The Air Force Association McChord Field Chapter and the Pierce Military and Business Alliance organized the drop of more than 300 turkeys to Airmen at Joint Base Lewis-McChord for the Thanksgiving holiday. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Julius Delos Reyes)

U.S. Air Force Airmen with Team McChord and volunteers from the local community help distribute turkeys during Operation Turkey Drop at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., Nov. 18, 2021. The Air Force Association McChord Field Chapter and the Pierce Military and Business Alliance organized the drop of more than 300 turkeys to Airmen at Joint Base Lewis-McChord for the Thanksgiving holiday. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Julius Delos Reyes)

U.S. Air Force Airmen with Team McChord and volunteers from the local community help distribute turkeys during Operation Turkey Drop at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., Nov. 18, 2021. The Air Force Association McChord Field Chapter and the Pierce Military and Business Alliance organized the drop of more than 300 turkeys to Airmen at Joint Base Lewis-McChord for the Thanksgiving holiday. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Julius Delos Reyes)

U.S. Air Force Airmen with Team McChord help distribute turkeys during Operation Turkey Drop at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., Nov. 18, 2021. The Air Force Association McChord Field Chapter and the Pierce Military and Business Alliance organized the drop of more than 300 turkeys to Airmen at Joint Base Lewis-McChord for the Thanksgiving holiday. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Julius Delos Reyes)

U.S. Air Force Airmen with Team McChord help distribute turkeys during Operation Turkey Drop at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., Nov. 18, 2021. The Air Force Association McChord Field Chapter and the Pierce Military and Business Alliance organized the drop of more than 300 turkeys to Airmen at Joint Base Lewis-McChord for the Thanksgiving holiday. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Julius Delos Reyes)

U.S. Air Force Airmen with Team McChord and volunteers from the local community help distribute turkeys during Operation Turkey Drop at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., Nov. 18, 2021. The Air Force Association McChord Field Chapter and the Pierce Military and Business Alliance organized the drop of more than 300 turkeys to Airmen at Joint Base Lewis-McChord for the Thanksgiving holiday. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Julius Delos Reyes)

U.S. Air Force Airmen with Team McChord and volunteers from the local community help distribute turkeys during Operation Turkey Drop at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., Nov. 18, 2021. The Air Force Association McChord Field Chapter and the Pierce Military and Business Alliance organized the drop of more than 300 turkeys to Airmen at Joint Base Lewis-McChord for the Thanksgiving holiday. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Julius Delos Reyes)

U.S. Air Force Airmen with Team McChord and volunteers from the local community help distribute turkeys during Operation Turkey Drop at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., Nov. 18, 2021. The Air Force Association McChord Field Chapter and the Pierce Military and Business Alliance organized the drop of more than 300 turkeys to Airmen at Joint Base Lewis-McChord for the Thanksgiving holiday. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Julius Delos Reyes)

U.S. Air Force Airmen with Team McChord and volunteers from the local community help distribute turkeys during Operation Turkey Drop at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., Nov. 18, 2021. The Air Force Association McChord Field Chapter and the Pierce Military and Business Alliance organized the drop of more than 300 turkeys to Airmen at Joint Base Lewis-McChord for the Thanksgiving holiday. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Julius Delos Reyes)

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. --

It’s the beginning of the holiday season, which once again means it’s time for Operation Turkey Drop.

Every year, members of the Air Force Association (AFA) McChord Field Chapter and the Pierce Military and Business Alliance (PMBA) donate hundreds of turkeys to Team McChord Airmen and their families.

“We do it every year to help support junior Airmen and their families who may not have otherwise been able to celebrate on their own,” said Mark Minickiello, AFA McChord Field Chapter secretary. “It’s a great opportunity for our community to give back.”

This year provided an additional challenge when the usual supplier for the turkeys decided to longer fill special orders. With less than a month before Turkey Drop, many of the big box stores required a month-out request to fill a large order. The AFA, PMBA and first sergeants were looking for an alternative when they discovered the McChord Commissary could handle the order.

Working with the Commissary team, AFA and PMBA were able to donate 307 turkeys this year to the 62nd Airlift Wing and Western Air Defense Sector.

An additional 150 turkeys had already been given to the 446th AW to provide to their Reservists on the drill weekend.

“This is a great chance to show how much the local PMBA community and AFA support our Airmen,” said Master Sgt. Derek Thompson, 627th Force Support Squadron first sergeant. “This has been a challenging year and sometimes families really need just a small gesture to make their holiday season that much better. This support does not go unnoticed by our Airmen and our local partners that support us to provide for events like this love to help our Airmen.”

Local businesses and tribes throughout the Puget Sound worked with AFA and PMBA to purchase and donate the turkeys for Turkey Drop.

“The AFA organizes the Turkey Drop, but we purchase the turkeys and hams through the support of our community partners,” Minickiello said. “These are individuals and groups who are very interested in supporting our men and women [in the military] throughout the year, but particularly around the holidays.”

Turkey Drop has become a McChord tradition and the AFA and PMBA will be back in December for Operation Ham Grenade, where they donate hams to McChord Airmen and their families.

“They’re our most attended events of the year,” Minickiello said. “We see a lot of interest from our members to participate each year and contribute financially so we have the resources to purchase the turkeys and hams.”

Despite some challenges, the AFA, PMBA and first sergeants working together were able to provide holiday support to Team McChord Airmen like they have so many times in the past.

“This was a particularly challenging year in sourcing the supply of turkeys, the dedication and hard work of our community partners and them going the extra mile was instrumental in the execution of this event and ensuring we put a smile and a happy holiday out there for 307 families,” Thompson said.

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