Thursday, December 24, 2009

Why the military uses NORAD to track Santa Claus

Colonel Shoup, first CONAD (now NORAD) Santa Tracker!

Have you ever wondered why NORAD, North American Air Defense Command, goes to the trouble of "tracking Santa Claus" ?

Well, here's a little history.

In 1955, a Sears ad in Colorado had a telephone number listed so kids could call Santa. Unfortunately, the number was misprinted. The telephone number in the ad was to the hotline at CONAD (Continental Air Defense Command, predecessor of NORAD). It was a direct line to the Commander-in-Chief, no less.

Colonel Harry Shoup, the commander at the time, knew he could not disappoint the children. He and his staff had a lot of fun giving the children who called in radar updates about Santa's location.

Now remember this was during the height of the nuclear bomb scare between the US and the Russians. Obviously these military personnel were operating under some pretty stressful conditions. But true to their military spirit, they easily handled what could have been a public relations nightmare. They could have taken Sears to task and made a huge commotion. But our military rose to the occasion, as usual!

Three years later, NORAD was formed and took over the operation. For over 50 years now, our military men and women, along with volunteers, have taken countless phone calls from children on Christmas Eve tracking Santa. Of course, now they track Santa with online updates as well.

It is kind of funny and nice at the same time, that news media from all over the world use NORAD to give Santa updates!

He probably did not realize it at the time, but Colonel Shoup was a true American hero, averting a public relations disaster for Sears, and comforting children at the same time. Sadly, the Colonel died this year March.

The First NORAD Santa Tracker!
Colonel Harry Shoup, USAF, September 29, 1917 - March 14, 2009

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