Santa Maria Island Food Drop

by Daniel L. Haulman

Operation Name: Santa Maria Island Food Drop
Location: Azores
Date: March 15, 1963
Emergency: Six weeks of bad weather prevented supply ships from delivering food to Santa Maria Island.
Organizations: 17th Air Transport Squadron
Airlifted: 4.8 tons of food.
Aircraft Used: C–124 (one)

Six weeks of sustained high winds and waves during February and March prevented Portuguese ships from delivering food to Santa Maria Island in the Azores. Recalling that U.S. planes had transported food to the Azores as part of a “People to People” foreign aid policy, island authorities sought U.S. help.

In mid-March, the East Trpt AF diverted a 17th Air Transport Squadron C–124 Globemaster to Lajes AB in the Azores for an emergency airlift. On March 15, the plane airdropped nearly five tons of potatoes, onions, oranges, and other food to Santa Maria islanders, helping them to survive until shipping resumed.

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