Reservists donate to community during Antarctic mission

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Nick Przybyciel
  • 446th AW Public Affairs
As if bettering the world by supporting scientific research isn't enough, a group of Reserve Airmen from the 446th Airlift Wing are doing even more for an already altruistic mission.

While supporting Operation Deep Freeze, the 446th AW Reservists and their active-duty teammates from the 62nd AW have donated more than $10,000 to local charities in the mission's staging area, Christchurch, New Zealand. Operation Deep Freeze is the Air Force's resupply mission for National Science Foundation researchers working in Antarctica.

"We've been donating 'formally' for the last three year, but we've always been involved in the community since I first started deploying here in 1997," said Lt. Col. Jim McGann,  serving as the 304th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron commander. Colonel McGann is normally stationed at McChord with the 62nd AW.

Each year, the McChord AFB Deep Freeze team selects a different local charity to focus its efforts on, according to Chief Master Sgt. James Masura, a 446th AW loadmaster who helped start the program.

Most of the money comes from sales of Deep Freeze merchandise, such as hats, T-shirts and coffee cups. Chief Masura heads the merchandise program. and he has been credited by Colonel McGann as being integral to the success of both boosting morale and helping the local community.

"The whole idea of the merchandise was to give the profits back to the crews in terms of picnics and holiday activities, provide gifts to local Deep Freeze- friendly establishments, and give back to the overall Christchurch community through support of local children's charities," Chief Masura said.

Aside from raising funds by selling merchandise, the aircrews also accepts donations from anyone who wants to help the cause.

"We get contributions ranging from $2 to $200," Colonel McGann said. "We've raised nearly $10,000 over the last three years, and that's not too bad. We're here to help, and we mean that."

Deep Freeze crews provide more than just monetary help to the people of Christchurch. Aircrews spend six months each year staged there, flying their enormous C-17 Globemaster III aircraft loaded with supplies onto a temporary ice airstrip in Antarctica. In between missions, the Airmen spend time reaching out to the local community.

"We invite the kids and family members out to the aircraft for a personal tour, and we like to present the checks to them at the plane. It's a big hit with the kids to see something they might not otherwise have the chance to," said Colonel McGann.

Last year, all the proceeds raised went to benefit "Cookie Munchers," which is a school for dyslexic children.