The Oregon Air National Guard will be extra vigilant again this Christmas Eve as they work closely with the U.S. Air Force to scan the skies for the arrival of Santa Claus.
Both Oregon Air Guard flying units, the 142nd Fighter Wing in Portland and the 173rd Fighter Wing in Klamath Falls, will again partner the Air Force and the North American Air Defense Command (NORAD) to track the annual flight of the “Jolly Old Elf.”
“Every Christmas Eve, we begin receiving reports from the Western Air Defense Sector at McChord Air Force Base (Wash.) concerning erratic blips on their radar screens,” said Major Melinda Lepore, an Oregon Air National Guard spokesperson. “Because our F-15 aircrews are on continuous alert, they may be ordered airborne to investigate anything that we can’t readily identify on radar.”
For more than 65 years the Air Guard’s mission in Portland has been to provide air defense for the Pacific Northwest–24 hours a day, seven days a week. In Klamath Falls the unit’s mission is train pilots to fly the F-15. All Oregon Air Guard members are also prepared to respond to other state and local emergency contingencies.
More than 2,100 Oregon Air Guard members voluntarily serve full-time and part-time in support of these missions