Hearts on top of the world

QAANAAQ, Greenland – Col. Chris Eagan, 821st Air Base Group commander at Thule Air Base, Greenland, holds the child of a community member during Operation Julemond held in the local community Dec. 22, 2016. Since 1959, the members of Thule have nurtured a special relationship with their nearest neighbors about 159 kilometers up the coast from the base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Shawn Joseph)

QAANAAQ, Greenland – Col. Chris Eagan, 821st Air Base Group commander at Thule Air Base, Greenland, holds the child of a community member during Operation Julemond held in the local community Dec. 22, 2016. Since 1959, the members of Thule have nurtured a special relationship with their nearest neighbors about 159 kilometers up the coast from the base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Shawn Joseph)

QAANAAQ, Greenland – Santa Claus and 821st Air Base Group leadership at Thule Air Base, Greenland, talk with local children and hand out goodies during Operation Julemond in the local community of Qaanaq, Dec. 22, 2016. Village families gather every year to celebrate the international relationship with songs around the Christmas tree, hugs, laughter and gifts. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Shawn Joseph)

QAANAAQ, Greenland – Santa Claus and 821st Air Base Group leadership at Thule Air Base, Greenland, talk with local children and hand out goodies during Operation Julemond in the local community of Qaanaq, Dec. 22, 2016. Village families gather every year to celebrate the international relationship with songs around the Christmas tree, hugs, laughter and gifts. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Shawn Joseph)

QAANAAQ, Greenland – Tech. Sgt. Oscar Nunez, 821st Air Base Group at Thule Air Base, Greenland, shakes the hand of a child during Operation Julemond in the local community of Qaaanaaq, Dec. 22, 2016. Village families gather every year to celebrate the international relationship with songs around the Christmas tree, hugs, laughter and gifts. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Shawn Joseph)

QAANAAQ, Greenland – Tech. Sgt. Oscar Nunez, 821st Air Base Group at Thule Air Base, Greenland, shakes the hand of a child during Operation Julemond in the local community of Qaaanaaq, Dec. 22, 2016. Village families gather every year to celebrate the international relationship with songs around the Christmas tree, hugs, laughter and gifts. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Shawn Joseph)

QAANAAQ, Greenland – Children play around a holiday tree during Operation Julemond in the local community of Qaaanaaq, Greenland, Dec. 22, 2016. Every year during Operation Julemond, gifts are sent to the Greenlandic villages of Qaanaaq, Qeqertat, Savisivik and Siorapaluk for the children who live at the top of the world. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Shawn Joseph)

QAANAAQ, Greenland – Children play around a holiday tree during Operation Julemond in the local community of Qaaanaaq, Greenland, Dec. 22, 2016. Every year during Operation Julemond, gifts are sent to the Greenlandic villages of Qaanaaq, Qeqertat, Savisivik and Siorapaluk for the children who live at the top of the world. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Shawn Joseph)

THULE, Greenland -- The northern-most children in the world have a unique bond with the United States Air Force. Every year Operation Julemand, or Operation "Christmas Man," send gifts to the Greenlandic villages of Qaanaaq, Qeqertat, Savisivik and Siorapaluk for the children who live at the top of the world.

Since 1959, the members of Thule Air Base, Greenland, have nurtured a special relationship with their nearest neighbors about 159 kilometers up the coast. With no other travel connections to the outside world, each year Air Greenland donates multiple helicopter cargo runs to deliver gifts to these isolated villages, from people from four nations and who work at Thule Air Base.

Village families gather near the glacier in the Qaanaaq community center to celebrate the international relationship with songs around the Christmas tree, hugs, laughter and gifts. The gifts in 2016 totaled more than $42,000 in private contributions of goods, funds and services.

"This trip is a highlight of our Airmen every year," said Col. Chris Eagan, the 821st Air Base Group commander at Thule Air Base.

"Members of the Operation Julemand committee eagerly vote to see who gets the coveted last open seat on the helicopter for a chance to be Santa Claus, or the Julemand, at the celebration," said Chaplain (Capt.) Michael Farar, the installation chaplain at Thule Air Base.

Air Force members, service members and civilians alike, plan to continue the 67 year-old relationship and tradition for many years into the future.