Netflix's 'Operation Christmas Drop' Is Based on a Real Annual Air Force Mission

If you’re trying to avoid looking at the news by watching endless hours of TV instead, you’re in luck, because Operation Christmas Drop is the latest Netflix movie you’ll want to add to your binge list. Starring The Vampire Diaries alum Kat Graham and Alexander Ludwig, who you likely recognize from The Hunger Games, the film follows a congressional aide who has to miss Christmas with her family to travel to a beachside Air Force base. While there, it’s her job to find reasons to close down the facility. Obviously, she meets a big-hearted hottie who shows her all of the good the base does that may convince her to fight for its survival instead.

While the film promises to be just as cheesy as your other holiday favorites, there’s one major difference: It’s based on a real annual Air Force operation that’s been going on for decades. Here’s what you need to know about it.

Operation Christmas Drop is based on the Department of Defense’s long-running humanitarian airlift operation of the same name.

Back in 1952 around Christmastime, an American aircrew saw people waving at them from the island of Kapingamarangi, which is a few thousand miles southwest of Hawaii. To spread some holiday cheer, the aircrew dropped a bundle of supplies attached to a parachute to the islanders. From then on, Operation Christmas Drop became an annual tradition that involves sending supplies–like medicine, food, equipment, school necessities, clothing, and toys–to people on more than 50 islands throughout the Pacific Ocean that are not easily reached by boat. The aircrew even wears Santa hats while completing the drops, which you’ll see in the movie, of course.

The movie was filmed at Andersen Air Force Base in Guam, the actual base camp for the operation.

Operation Christmas Drop is the first major Hollywood movie to ever be shot in Guam. It features the Andersen Air Force Base there, which is used as a “base camp” for airlifting the donated goods and getting them to islanders during the operation. It acts as a base camp because the United States isn’t the only country involved. Air forces from Japan and Australia also contribute, and New Zealand recently joined the effort last year. In fact, the movie was shot last year, and some of the footage in the film is actually from the 2019 Operation Christmas Drop. A few crew members even volunteered to help sort donations for the mission when they had time off from filming, according to Stars and Stripes.

Everything you see in and around the Air Force base during the film is legit.

Most of the film was shot on Andersen. That includes the jungle and beach scenes, the base’s beachside bar, Bamboo Willies, and even the homes and businesses of service members. It also shows some of the real remote islands that receive supplies through the operation. “There is no way to build an Air Force base for a movie—you just have to move onto one,” the director Martin Wood said in a statement.

So, how about that? A gushy love story and a little history lesson wrapped in a pretty paradise-esque environment for ya. Sounds like a solid movie to watch at least once every holiday season.

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