Retired Col. Gail S. Halvorsen, also known as the "Candy Bomber," shows children at the Pope Air Force Base, N.C., school age program how to make a parachute attached to a chocolate bar, much like those he dropped from his aircraft almost 60 years ago. He also signed copies of "Mercedes and the Chocolate Pilot," a book about a little girl living in Berlin during the Berlin Airlift. (U.S. Air Force photo/Ed Drohan)
Colonel Gail S. Halvorsen, assigned to the Berlin Airlift during 1948-1949, later became known as the Berlin Candy Bomber. This small gesture of kindness blossomed into a major goodwill effort supported by the Air Force and many other organizations in the United States.
OVER THE PACIFIC OCEAN -- Retired Col. Gail Halvorsen and his wife, Lorraine, inspect a stuffed bear before it was dropped Dec. 21 during the 50th anniversary flights of Christmas Drop. For 50 years people at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, have gathered Christmas gifts and supplies to be airdropped to Pacific islanders. A C-130 Hercules and crew from Yokota Air Base Japan, did the duty this year, delivering the goods to the islands of Anatahan, Agrihan, and Alamgan, which are north of Guam. Among the cargo dropped was rice, fishing gear, and machetes. Halvorsen is the famed "Candy Bomber" who dropped candy to the children of Berlin during the Berlin Airlift. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Joshua Strang)
A native of Utah, Gail Halvorsen served with distinction in many diverse assignments in various parts of the world. The most exceptional was the period 1948 and 1949 when he was assigned to fly the "Berlin Airlift." In June 1948, the Soviet Union laid siege to the city of Berlin, Germany, prohibiting the flow of food and supplies across surface routes into the city. An airlift was initiated from western Germany into Berlin to move the food and supplies necessary to keep the city alive. Colonel Halvorsen was one of the many Air Force pilots tasked to fly those supplies.
On his first approach to the Berlin airfield he noticed many children outside the fence appreciatively observing the incoming aircraft. He decided that on subsequent flights he would drop candy and gum in small parachutes to the children. This small gesture of kindness blossomed into a major goodwill effort supported by the Air Force and many other organizations in the United States. Colonel Halvorsen became known as the "Berlin Candy Bomber."