Candy Bomber recognized at Charleston Air Force Base
Sixty-four years ago, when the world was a much different place, Air Force pilot Gail S. Halvorsen had a very simple idea that created thousands of smiles.
Flying through the Russian blockade of Berlin, then-Lt. Halvorsen got the idea of tying together tiny candy-laden parachute bundles to drop for the city’s hungry children.
It was a sweet alternative to the tons of food, coal and oil the Western nations were shuttling into Berlin around the clock.
From that point on, the idea spread. But to the children of Berlin, Halvorsen would always be known as the Candy Bomber, the Chocolate Pilot, the Raisin Bomber and Uncle Wiggly Wings.
This morning, the Charleston Air Force Base gave a thank you to Halvorsen for his goodwill, naming the building where the base’s aircrews practice on their C-17 Globemaster flight simulator in his honor.
True to his humble nature, Halvorsen deflected the attention back to the pilots and other airmen who’d been lost during the 1948 airlift.
“There are 31 American heroes and 39 British heroes of the Berlin Airlift,” he said. “And I’m not one of them. Today’s dedication is not mine; the dedication is for those that gave their all for the cause of freedom. So, I’m not here for just me, I’m here to represent them.”
Halvorsen, 92, of Salt Lake city, volunteered to fly a C-54 in “Operation Vittles.” The effort eventually paid off as the Soviets later backed down.
Halvorsen knows his legacy will always be as the candy bomber, but his message to others is to find ways to spread joy in bad situations.
“In man’s search for happiness, sometimes he’ll chase for riches,” he said. “But money doesn’t buy happiness. The only real reward you get in life is helping others, and that’s worth more than anything money can buy.”