Is the Plot of 'Operation Christmas Drop' Based on a Real Event?

Is 'Operation Christmas Drop' based on a real thing? The Netflix Christmas movie has already captivated viewers, and there's a real story behind it.

Shannon Raphael - Author

Nov. 9 2020, Published 6:52 p.m. ET

Source: Netflix

While 2020 has definitely been filled with uncertainty, one thing has remained steady — the influx of holiday films released on Hallmark, Lifetime, and Netflix. 

Whether you watch holiday films for the oftentimes heartwarming family dynamics, the love story between two unsuspecting and attractive people, or the cheer that comes with celebrating the festivities, there are plenty of reasons why viewers often tune in.

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Netflix's Operation Christmas Drop centers around a military base in Guam and its air force pilots who drop gifts and crucial supplies to those living in nearby islands for the holidays. The film stars Kat Graham as Erica, a workaholic political aide who heads to the base to decide whether or not the tradition can (and should) continue. 

Pilot Andrew (The Hunger Games actor Alexander Ludwig) shows Erica what the mission does for others, and how important the base itself is.

Source: Netflix
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Though the two are pitted against each other at the beginning of the movie because of their conflicted interests, they soon begin to fall for each other. 

While the plot of Operation Christmas Drop is somewhat unrealistic in a multitude of ways, one thing is very accurate — the supplies drop itself.

Is Operation Christmas Drop real? Keep reading to find out the true story behind the plot of the Netflix film. 

Is 'Operation Christmas Drop' based on a real event?

While the idea of an annual Christmas drop to help spread holiday cheer around the various islands surrounding the Andersen Air Force Base sounds like a made-for-TV plot, Operation Christmas Drop is based on a genuine tradition.  

According to the Andersen Air Force Base's website, the annual drop is the longest-standing humanitarian operation in the Department of Defense's history. 

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The event began in 1952 when the crew on a B-29 Superfortress plane saw a family waving at them from an island located thousands of miles away from Hawaii. Because it was the Christmas season, the crew decided to throw down supplies via parachutes. 

Over the years, the event has expanded, and more than 50 remote islands are given supplies and gifts during this time. 

Source: Netflix
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The Andersen Air Force Base is one of several bases from around the world that participates in Operation Christmas Drop, and it serves as a main base for the entire event. 

The supplies that are dropped during the event include food, toys, and objects for education. The function depends on fundraisers and boxed donations for the goods. 

The bases themselves benefit from the drop, as they can use the flights for training purposes. Because the islands are prone to devastation from natural disasters, the operation allows the crews to practice techniques in the case of an emergency. 

But, not all aspects of the Operation Christmas Drop film are entirely accurate. 

Though Erica visits the Guam base in the first place to determine if it should get shut down, that has never been a real, public issue for the actual Andersen base.

Where was 'Operation Christmas Drop' filmed?

In addition to the plot being based on an actual tradition, there's another level of authenticity in Operation Christmas Drop — the filming location. The Netflix movie was shot entirely on location at the real Andersen Air Force Base in Guam, and it was the first full-length film to be recorded there. 

Operation Christmas Drop is available to stream on Netflix now. 

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