Press Release Index
CONTACT: Ms. Brooke Davis, 315-334-6055
FOR RELEASE: Thursday, Dec 24, 2009

Christmas Eve: A Special Mission For New York Air National Guardsmen

Rome-Based Unit Tracks Santa Again

ROME, NY (12/21/2009)--Once again this Christmas Eve, members of the New York Air National Guard will play a key roll as the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) tracks the progress of Santa Claus around the world. The air defense controllers at the Eastern Air Defense Sector (EADS) here will employ radar to track Santa Claus over the eastern U.S. during his Christmas Eve journey across the nation. EADS personnel will work diligently through the night on Christmas Eve to maintain ongoing contact with Santa as he continues his travels across the states. EADS is responsible for controlling the air defense system over the eastern United States. "This is quite possibly our favorite "VIP" that we track," said the unit's Deputy Commander for Operations, Col. Wade Dewey. "The men and women of the Eastern Air Defense Sector take great pride in being on duty Christmas Eve, monitoring the skies as Santa journeys across the east coast." To ensure Santa is safe and on schedule, the Air National Guard will ensure that their alert fighter aircraft, controlled by EADS, are prepared to fly and help Santa at a moment's notice, if needed. And in case of poor flying weather, EADS will provide jolly Saint Nick navigation and guidance. Families can watch Santa's progress around the World Dec. 24 by signing onto the NORAD Tracks Santa Website at www.noradsanta.org. The NORAD Tracks Santa program is primarily a volunteer program. Each year at EADS, Tech. Sgt. Deborah Martin, EADS Alpha Flight member, is one of thousands of volunteers to help support the program through volunteering. "I have worked forever on Christmas Eve since I've been here and it has been a big adjustment for my family," she said. "It's funny though ... my kids are grown up, but my one niece and nephew really got excited to learn that the reason I can't celebrate Christmas Eve with the family anymore is that I'm helping Santa make his journey to all the children who are expecting him. I have people believing that there's a transponder in Rudolph's nose -that's why it's red!" Although it is difficult for Sergeant Martin to be away from her family on Christmas Eve, she makes the best of it for her fellow crewmembers on Alpha flight. "I get this warm fuzzy every year," she said. "I always stop off at this coffee shop on the way to work on Christmas Eve and they treat me to a coffee and doughnut." The NORAD tracks Santa program began on Dec. 24, 1955, after an errant phone call was made to the Continental Air Defense Command Operations Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. The call was from a local youngster who dialed a misprinted telephone number in a local newspaper advertisement that invited kids to call in and talk to Santa. Instead he got the commander at Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, Colorado. The Air Force officer who answered the phone that night gave the youngster the information requested - the whereabouts of Santa Claus. This began the tradition of tracking Santa Claus, a tradition that was carried on by NORAD when it was formed in 1958. The current Santa Tracking System employs the Google Earth program that provides an update of Santa's location at all times. It is frequently televised on local and national news networks as well as the Weather Channel cable network. NORAD is a joint Canadian/American command that works year around to meet today's challenges in defending North America, and as a part of NORAD, EADS personnel, which also includes Canadian Forces members, are on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week to provide air defense over the east coast of the U.S. For more on EADS role in tracking Santa contact Brooke Davis at 315-334-6536 to arrange interviews and coverage prior to Dec. 24. Broadcasters interested in arranging an interview with NORAD officials, or downloading video, audio, B-Roll, historical and "Santa Cam" files should contact the DVIDS 24-hour media hotline (678) 421-6612 or 877-DVIDS-247 or by going to www.dvidshub.net and clicking on the media request link. Please adhere to the broadcasting instructions. Tracking maps - In addition, broadcasters may embed the tracking map on their Web site or broadcasts by going to http://www.noradsanta.org/en/track3d.html. NORAD Tracks Santa Media Operations Center - Media outlets wanting an update on Dec. 24 may call into the NTS Media Center at (719) 556-1910 or (719) 556-5128. Be advised that phone lines may be extremely busy. Photo Cutlines: Photo 091220-F-5900D-2785 New York Air National Guard Staff Sgt. Jason Cole, Eastern Air Defense Sector Alpha flight member, chats with one of Santa's helpers at the North Pole. The air defense controllers at EADS will track Santa Claus over the eastern U.S. during his Christmas Eve journey across the nation. EADS personnel will work diligently through the night on Christmas Eve to maintain ongoing contact with Santa as he continues his travels across the states (U.S. Air Force photo by Brooke Davis, Eastern Air Defense Sector). Photo 091220-F-5900D-2786 Staff Sgts. Karen Hurley and Corey Reynolds, both members of the New York Air National Guard's Eastern Air Defense Sector's Alpha flight, take a peek at Santa's progress in the North Pole. The air defense controllers at EADS will track Santa Claus over the eastern U.S. during his Christmas Eve journey across the nation. EADS personnel will work diligently through the night on Christmas Eve to maintain ongoing contact with Santa as he continues his travels across the states (U.S. Air Force photo by Brooke Davis, Eastern Air Defense Sector).

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© NYS DMNA Press Release:Christmas Eve: A Special Mission For New York Air National Guardsmen
URL: http://dmna.ny.gov/pressroom/?id=1261489193
Page Last Modified: Dec 22, 2009