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Updated Dec 12, 2012 - 1:21 pm

Marines deliver food, toys to Havasupai tribe

Marines load toys and food on to a helicopter as part of Operation Supai. (Photo: Arizona Department of Transportation)

Two Marine helicopters airlifted toys and food to the Havasupai tribe on Dec 3.

The food and toys are airlifted to the tribe because they live at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.

Operation Supai, as the tradition is known, is carried out annually by Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 764, who, despite being based out of Edwards Air Force Base in California, fly out of Grand Canyon Airport for the special mission.

"The support [Arizona Department of Transportation] provides is invaluable," said Major Charles Nunally, executive officer and helicopter pilot for the squadron in a release. "Without the support of the airport, we wouldn't be able to do this mission."

HMM-764 partners with the Flagstaff Marine Toys for Tots and St. Mary's Food Bank to bring 150 bags of toys and 100 boxes of food to the tribe every year.

This is the biggest day of the year for the tribe," said Rick Wiselus, a Toys for Tots volunteer and board member on the Marine Corps League Charities in a release. "The smiles on the kids' faces are heartwarming."

Operation Supai has been on-going since 1995.

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