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  • Writer's pictureBrian Powers

Episode 41 - Better Watch Out

I love this story because it's a great example of one guy retelling a story over and over again until it takes on a life of its own. That isn't to belittle Col. Harry Shoup or his family - it just kind of fits with the spirit of things, and every Christmas, the (largely inaccurate) story of what happened gets trotted out by legitimate news agencies looking for a little bit of holiday cheer.

To be sure, military PR stunts involving Santa Claus predate the CONAD story by a great deal, but this is the only one to become a holiday tradition. The stories about different ways they found to make a splash for different years are just as adorable - one year, they reported that Santa seemed to be stuck in Canada, and they dispatched fighter jets to make sure he was okay (he had to land because of a reindeer emergency, but he was able to get back to business).

The variations on the thing are great, too - legend is that the first kid to make the accidental call got off the phone crying. All in all, it's still a heartwarming story of a stern military man showing a strong sense of humor and his good nature, and it still works on that level.

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