Dec 24

Here Comes Santa Claus

Thursday, December 24, 2015 12:01 AM

By

“Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished. . . .”

— From an editorial by Francis Pharcellus Church.

‘Tis the season, as they say, for gifts and merry-making. Most of us, I should think, would like to be home with our families and loved ones during this time of togetherness, to remember fondly happy times and — even if just for a little while — overlook the dark times that so often accompany the realities of everyday life. But there are many who do not have that option — who, whether through service or circumstance, who cannot be with their loved ones over the holidays, or who have no loved ones to be with them.

And so enter Santa Claus. As in Francis Church’s famous reply to little Virginia O’Hanlon’s letter in 1897 so well encapsulates, Santa Claus does indeed exist, an embodiment of that spirit of goodwill and compassion towards others that we hope to put forth during these times. Santa, in that respect, is most welcome by those most in need of a little joy over the holidays, and he is in no means averse to reaching them by any means available, as this photo series will illustrate.

Santa South Pole

Naval Institute Photo Archives.

In the image above, we see Jolly Old St. Nick (looking stylish in his aviator’s sunglasses) at the controls of an Air Force LC-130F “Hercules” cold-weather cargo aircraft on his way to “deliver Charlie Brown yo-yo’s to all the good Navymen of Air Development Squadron Six at Amundsen-Scott station” at the South Pole, high on the Antarctic Plateau.

"Sea Service Santa." USNI Archives.

“Sea Service Santa,” 1969. Naval Institute Photo Archives.

Sometimes, Santa needs additional help to complete his rounds. Here, Santa Claus rappels out of a Navy “Sea King” helicopter at Norfolk, Virginia, to do his part of the Marine Corp Reserve’s “Toys for Tots” program, delivering toys to orphanages, daycare centers, and needy families throughout the area.

USNI Archives.

Naval Institute Photo Archives.

On board a ship, it can be difficult to find a chimney to squeeze down, but Santa is never dissuaded by such difficulties. Here, Santa is seen scaling the stack of the USS Hector (AR-7) in December, 1986, to deliver joy to the crew.

USNI Arhives.

Chief Quartermaster Jack Patterson playing Santa, 1970. Naval Institute Photo Archives.

At other times, the Navy drops by the North Pole for a visit. Here, the USS Queenfish (SSN-651) pays Santa a visit after surfacing at the North Pole in August, 1970. микрозайм