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Berlin, Germany Candy Bomber

Col. Gail Halvorsen, a member of my Headquarters Military Air Transport Services (MATS) legendary Air Force legacy, is built on chocolate, bubblegum and hope.

In 1948, World War II was over and its aftermath had left the German city of Berlin in ruins. Allied bombings had reduced the city’s once historical buildings to large, thin fingers pointing toward the sky. The streets, once filled with busy urban life, were left littered with debris. Its people, many of whom were children, were scared, homeless and hungry.

Suddenly, through the darkness of clouds and smoke, a tiny parachute attached to a candy bar, fell to the ground. The candy bar symbolized hope. It softly landed at a boy’s feet. To him, it wasn’t about the chocolate. It was the subtle reminder that somebody knew he was in trouble and that somebody cared.

That somebody was then Lt. Gail Halvorsen, former referred to as “The Candy Bomber” during the 1948 Berlin airlift, known as “Operation Vittles”. His simple act of kindness gave hope back to the children of a war-torn Germany.

“ When I first flew over Berlin, I could look through the buildings,” said Halvorsen. “I didn’t understand how 2 million people could have lived there.”

Halvorsen dropped candy from one of our C-54 transport Skymasters for the German children below. His kindness inspired other crews to do the same. Halvorsen, along with more than 20 other candy bombers, dropped more than 3 million pounds of chocolate, gum and other candies for the German children.

Col. Halvorsen is, in large part, a symbol of hope and kindness for an entire nation. I’m very proud to have served with this hero.

Contributing writer Everett Vanover lives in Fairfi eld, Calif.

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