Fear & Loading: A Military Tradition 64 Years Young

posted on December 24, 2019

It all started in 1955 when a local Sears and Roebuck newspaper advertisement informed children they could call Santa directly—only the contact number in the advertisement had a typo. Instead of reaching Santa, the phone rang through to the crew commander on duty at the Continental Air Defense Command Operations Center, the predecessor of North American Aerospace Defense Command’s (NORAD).

U.S. Air Force Colonel Harry Shoup was at the con that holiday evening and quickly realized a mistake had been made. He assured the child Mr. Claus was fine and being tracked by his crack team because they were going to be there all night, still keeping a keen eye on radar for Russian missiles or bombers. Col. Shoup then assigned a duty officer to continue answering calls, and they poured in. Thus, a tradition was born, and continued when NORAD formed in 1958. Each year since, NORAD has reported Santa's location on Dec. 24 to millions of children and families.

On Dec. 1, the 64th iteration of NORAD Tracks Santa launched at NORADSanta.org. The website is a global experience, delighting generations of families everywhere, not just in the United States. NORAD may be a binational U.S. and Canadian command charged with the serious business of aerospace and maritime warning and aerospace control of North America—as well as monitoring that activity globally—but it considers the supplementary mission of tracking Santa an honor.

“In addition to our day-to-day mission of defending North America, we are proud to carry on the tradition of tracking Santa as he travels along his yuletide flight path," said Gen. Terrence O'Shaughnessy, commander of NORAD and U.S. Northern Command. "The same radars, satellites and interceptors employed on December 24 are used year-round to defend Canadian and American airspace from threats.”

Children of all ages can call (877) HiNorad on Dec. 24 and one of the many volunteers—who also still believe—can provide Santa’s precise location.


Remington Model 7
Remington Model 7

The Remington Model 7: A Lightweight Legacy Rifle

Since its introduction in 1983, the bolt-action Remington Model 7 gained favor with sportsmen for its low weight and wide range of chamberings.

Favorite Firearms: A Long-Barreled Dan Wesson

I walked into a gun store and saw a pistol that I knew was right for me: a clean, sharp-looking Dan Wesson Model 15 in .357 Mag., with beautiful wood stocks and a 12" barrel that stuck out of a hole cut in the side of the original box.

Review: SIG Sauer P365-380

SIG Sauer now offers a smaller version of its P365 line with the P365-380, which is chambered for the .380 ACP cartridge instead of 9 mm Luger.

Firearm Companies Support Ukraine With Donations

Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, a number of firearm, ammunition and accessory companies stepped up to support the embattled nation, sending donations of guns, ammunition, optics and cash.

Sniping In Ukraine

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has seen a proliferation of snipers—equipped with a variety of rifles—on both sides. Here, one of the world’s foremost authorities on the subject of military sniping takes a look at the combatants, along with their arms and ammunition.

Preview: KORE Essentials Garrison G1

The Garrison G1 is a 1¾"-wide tactical gun belt rated to support up to a 10-lb. load.


Get the best of American Rifleman delivered to your inbox.