On October 27, 2018, 98 Year old retired Col Gail Halvorsen, the Berlin Candy Bomber, shared his Berlin Airlift experiences at the Airlift/Tanker 50th Anniversary Symposium at the Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center in Grapevine, Texas.
In July of 1948 he volunteered for the recently initiated Operation Vittles, or more commonly known as the Berlin Airlift. During that operation, he flew C-54 aircraft, delivering essential food, coal, and other supplies to the Soviet blockaded city of Berlin. It was during this period that Lt Halvorsen became affectionately known as the “Candy Bomber, Chocolate Pilot, Raisin Bomber and Uncle Wiggly Wings,” after he started dropping small candy-laden parachutes to the children of Berlin. This self-initiated act of kindness, on behalf of the starving children of Berlin, blossomed into a unique activity within the “Big Lift” and was called Operation Little Vittles. After a trip back to the United States on behalf of Operation Little Vittles, the operation became a national crusade supported by several towns and cities and by the U.S. candy companies. He and other volunteer aircrews even dropped goodies to the children of East Berlin, until the Soviets protested. He was awarded the Cheney Award for his efforts during the Berlin Airlift.
See Col Halvorsen’s presentation here.
In 1999, Col Halvorsen was inducted into A/TA’s Hall of Fame. You can read more of his story here.