Colonel (Ret.) Gail Halvorsen is known worldwide as, “The Candy Bomber,” and through his selfless actions, he offered hope to children in post-World War II, West Berlin. Then 1st Lt. Halvorsen was an American pilot flying around-the-clock missions during the Berlin Airlift. One day, while filming aircraft landing from the ground, he had a chance encounter with about 30 German children through a barbed wire fence. “Rigth then, the smallest decision I made changed the rest of my life,” said Halvorsen. He combined his candy rations with those of his copilot and engineer, made the first parachutes with handkerchiefs and strings and tied them to chocolate and gum for the first drop from his C-54 Skymaster on July 18, 1948. The amount of candy steadily increased, and by the end of the airlift, “Operation Little Vittles,” and the American pilots involved had dropped 250,000 parachutes and 23 tons of candy.
At 90, Colonel Halvorsen still flies the C-54 with FAA certification to fly second-in-command. “The thing I enjoy the most about being the Candy Bomber is seeing the children’s reaction even now to the idea of a chocolate bar coming out of the sky,” he said.