JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. --
Operation Ham Grenade, an annual event, launched Dec. 4.
Vehicles, displaying the Air Force Association logo, pulled into the warehouse laden with holiday hams destined to brighten the tables of Air Force families.
This year, there were no elf costumes, but no less holiday cheer. A spirited buzz surrounded the energetic volunteers from the Air Force Association, McChord Field Chapter (AFA), the Pierce Military and Business Alliance (PMBA) and 446th Airlift Wing members as packaged hams passed from hand-to-hand into cold storage waiting to be gifted.
Not even a pandemic could keep the local community from spreading holiday cheers to Reserve Citizen Airmen.
There wasn’t even a question about canceling this year, said Mark Minickiello, secretary of the AFA and the PMBA.
“There are many community partners who really want to support the local Airmen,” said Minickiello. “As long as we can keep purchasing hams, we will make this event happen.”
Many of the members of the AFA and PMBA are veterans, including Minickiello. The five years he served in the Air Force, he counts as the best of his life. “This is a natural opportunity to give back,” he said.
The spirit of giving exemplified in the generosity of the community has allowed the event to continue to grow for more than a decade.
“There is definitely a need this year,” said Jill Marconi, Director of Airman and Family Readiness Center. “This is a blessing for the Airmen and their families. A thank you from our community for everything the Airmen do.”
The 120 hams, 30 more than last year, were distributed to Airmen nominated by their leadership. Another round of hams will soon follow for active duty and guard airmen.
This follows the Operation Turkey Drop, also sponsored by the AFA and PMBA, which delivered 403 frozen turkeys to Team McChord in November.