As Colonel Harry Shoup was sitting at his desk, the red phone on his desk is ringing. The Red Phone was a way for Col Shoup to talk to the Pentagon if the Soviet Union had launch the nuclear weapons. This night in 1955 the red phone rung.
This phone call could inform the Continental Air Defense Command in Colorado Springs, what we now call NORAD.
“Is this Santa Claus?” A little boy asked. According to Col Shoups kids they all said the Colonel was Irritated at this child and thought this was a joke. As Col Shoup discuss with the child this wasn’t a joke the child began to cry, responding quickly Col Shoup busted out a big “Ho ho ho!” and asked if he was a good boy this year, the child was able calm down and answer yes he was. The Colonel asked to discuss with his mother, who said “Didn’t you hear? There’s a Sears Ad with this phone number” the original Sears ad said “Call me on my private phone and I will talk to you personally any time day or night.” Ironically the ad said "Kiddies, be sure and dial the correct number.”
As the Colonel hung up the phone again began to rang with other children wanting to talk to Santa. So with his quick thinking Col Shoup gathered several Air Force Airmen to answer the phone calls of the children wanting to talk to Santa. During Christmas Eve the Colonel walked into CORAD, where they tracked aircraft all over North America and saw the airmen put a Santa on the radar. They apologized and said they would take it down but the Colonel enjoyed it and kept it.
And the calls kept pouring in from eager kids. Shoup’s command team kept checking the radar and updating the kids about where Santa was at that minute.
As the years went by CORAD continued the tracking Santa. And the 64 year old tradition continues today as NORAD tracks Santa all over the world. The Colonel passed in 2009 who said his greatest achievement with the Air Force was tracking Santa.
Today NORAD or North America Aerospace Defense is a joint program by the US and Canada to protect North America from air threats.