Story last updated at 12/24/2008 - 10:51 am
CAMP DENALI - On Christmas Eve each year members of the Alaska National Guard perform one of their most important job responsibilities: tracking Santa.
The art of tracking Santa is more than providing updates to people on his current location - it's also ensuring that Santa and his eight tiny reindeer have the support they require to travel safely from the North Pole to all the children around the world.
This Christmas Eve Alaska Air National Guardsmen from the 176th Air Control Squadron and 213th Space Warning Squadron will use radar capabilities to provide North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) with launch notification, target verification and flight trajectory of Santa and his sleigh. And in case of in-flight emergency, Guardsmen will notify Santa's emergency response teams to immediately assist.
"We take this job very seriously," said Master Sgt. Terry Smith, 176th Air Control Squadron. "Children around the world are relying on the National Guard, and we don't want to let them or Santa down on such an important night."
During a successful test flight earlier this month, Guardsmen were able to track and identify Santa's departure from the North Pole, provide the necessary notifications to NORAD and verify Santa had adequate speed for a trip around the world in one night.
Guardsmen said they just want to provide the support and communication Santa requires for a safe trip on Christmas Eve.