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Operation Holiday Wagon continues traditions

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- As the holiday season approaches, the Operation Holiday Wagon aims to take care of base personnel working during the holidays.

Operation Holiday Wagon is a program that delivers free lunch and dinner to shift workers on duty during Christmas Eve, Dec. 24.

"The purpose of Operation Holiday Wagon is to provide meals for Airmen working on Christmas Eve, but there is more to it than that," said Tech. Sgt. Kevin Joseph, 614th Air and Space Operations Center defensive duty technician. "As we all know, our missions don't pause for holiday breaks. This means someone has to work. The true purpose of this program is to show those individuals they are not forgotten, and the time they spend away from friends, family and loved ones to keep Vandenberg's mission going is appreciated."

The program has been a long standing tradition on Vandenberg and has been passed down from generation to generation of Airmen.

"Operation Holiday Wagon was originally started by the 30th Civil Engineering Squadron in the 1970s," said Juan Cruz, 14th Air Force missile warning program analyst. "Jim McLean took over the 'Ho Ho Wagon' in 1982 with the support of his daughter, Stacey, and wife, Reta. Together they served hundreds of meals during 31 years of service.  The first deliveries were from the back of a step van and are now done by individual volunteers. Using 1982 as a starting point, this is the 33rd year of Operation Holiday Wagon."

Operation Holiday Wagon is operated by an all-volunteer force that packages and serves meals directly to each worker. 

"It is an honor to serve all the young men and women of Team Vandenberg," said Cruz. "One of our goals is to support the total Air Force family and promote their wellness, and all of this could not be possible without our volunteers who bag and deliver the meals to the different work centers on base."

As long as there is a mission to accomplish, Operation Holiday Wagon will continue to uplift the spirits of junior Airmen during the holidays.

"It is important to take care of our Airmen who work shifts so others can enjoy their time with their families," said Cruz. "With 24-hour operations, it is not always possible to spend the time you want with your own family and we must make sacrifices.  This is a small way to thank those who work crew shift day in and day out."

For more information or volunteer opportunities, contact Staff Sgt. Nadine Hose at 606-5595, Master Sgt. Rex Martin at 605-0794, or Juan Cruz at 606-5386.