Sunday, December 24, 2023

921News Tracking Santa

We are currently tracking Santa! He is currently overseas and later tonight is bound to bring joy and happiness to many children in our area later tonight.

In an effort to ensure his travels run smooth and his journey is swift we ask that all children be in bed and asleep when their parents tell them.

Every Christmas, children—and their parents—around the world gather to receive live updates from NORAD’s Santa Tracker. This tradition has been going on for so many years that historically inclined minds might wonder how there got to be a NORAD and why they got the idea to start tailing Santa Claus in the first place.

The holiday tradition has Cold War roots. It started with a misplaced phone call to a secret U.S. military command center in Colorado.


It is one of history’s supreme ironies that the heartwarming legend of Santa and his magical airborne sleigh bringing gifts for children would cross paths with a military command hub tasked with defending America’s skies from missiles. Details about how exactly the events took place have varied over time. However the basic facts are as follows.

Personnel manning the clandestine Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) Operations Center in Colorado were minding their own business in December 1955 when an unexpected call came through to the desk of their commander, Col. Harry Shoup.

Shoup had joined the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1940 and had seen service in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. He was a fighter pilotand was awarded the Soldier’s Medal for saving the life of a comrade.

Col. Harry Shoup, who saw service in three wars, got the surprise of a lifetime when a child called his desk at the CONAD command center. (U.S. Air Force) 

The CONAD phone line was confidential. When Shoup answered the call, he expected the call to be from a senior military official. He was astonished to hear a child’s voice asking if he was in fact Santa Claus. 

Shoup initially thought it was a prank. “Somebody’s playing a joke on me and this isn’t funny,” he later said he thought. “Can you repeat that please?” he asked the child.

He realized that the call was an error due to a typo printed in a Sears newspaper advertisement encouraging children to call Santa in addition to paying him a visit at the mall. Shoup dutifully pretended to be Santa Claus and instructed his staff to “report” Santa’s location to any inquisitive youngster calling the command center. 

The airmen guarding the skies from Soviet missiles were now bracing themselves for a bombardment of kids’ Christmas wishes—and loving it.

It all starts with the NORAD radar system called the North Warning System. This powerful radar system has 47 installations strung across Canada's North and Alaska. 

NORAD makes a point of checking the radar closely for indications of Santa Claus leaving the North Pole every holiday season. The moment our radar tells us that Santa has lifted off, we begin to use the same satellites that we use in providing air warning of possible missile launches aimed at North America.

The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) is a United States and Canada bi-national organization which defends the homeland through aerospace warning, aerospace control, and maritime warning for North America. 

Aerospace warning includes the monitoring of man-made objects in space, and the detection, validation, and warning of attack against North America whether by aircraft, missiles, or space vehicles, through mutual support arrangements with other commands.

Aerospace control includes ensuring air sovereignty and air defense of the airspace of Canada and the United States. The renewal of the NORAD Agreement in May 2006 added a maritime warning mission, which entails a shared awareness and understanding of the activities conducted in U.S. and Canadian maritime approaches, maritime areas and internal waterways.

Headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colorado, NORAD's mission has evolved over the years to meet the changing threat. Through outstanding bi-national cooperation, NORAD has proven itself effective in its roles of watching, warning, and responding. The events of September 11, 2001 demonstrated NORAD's continued relevance to North American security. 

Today, NORAD provides civil authorities with a potent military response capability to counter domestic airspace threats should all other methods fail.

The men and women of NORAD are constantly watching the skies and waterways of the United States and Canada to keep us safe.

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