Berlin Airlift - 'The Candy Bomber'

Department of Defense Photo Essay

  • U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Gail S. Halvorsen's bunk becomes a factory for miniature parachutes weighted with Lyons chocolate during the Berlin Airlift. The idea to drop candy to German children on the approach to Tempelhof Airport grew out of a chance meeting in July 1948 between Halvorsen and 30 German school children at the perimeter fence of the airport.  Photo courtesy of the U.S. Air Force
  • Retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Gail S. Halvorsen, better known as the "Candy Bomber," shows children at Pope Air Force Base, N.C., Feb. 22, 2006, how to make a parachute and attach it to a chocolate bar, just as he did during the Berlin Airlift. After World War II, Halvorsen wrote of his experiences in  "Mercedes and the Chocolate Pilot," a book about a little girl living in Berlin during the airlift.   U.S. Air Force photo by Ed Drohan
  • "Those two sticks of gum changed my life," recalled Retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Gail S. Halvorsen later in his life about the first gifts he gave to Berlin children that gave him the idea for his parachute drops. This undated photo shows a young Halvorsen surrounded by a group of Berlin children trying to express their appreciation for the thousands of packages of gum and candy he and his friends dropped over Berlin in tiny hand-made parachutes.  Photo courtesy of The Harry S. Truman Library and Museum
  • U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. William H. Tunner, directed the Berlin Airlift operation, and gave his blessing to Halvorsen's efforts, giving birth to "Operation Little Vittles."  Photo courtesy of the U.S. Air Force
  • Berlin youngsters who live near the Tempelhof Airport, where the U.S. Air Force transport planes unload their airlift supplies, play at a game called "Luftbrucke," or air bridge.  They used model American planes sold in German toy shops throughout the western sector of Berlin. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Air Force
  • Project Sleighbells brought Christmas gifts from the family of "Operation Little Vittles" fliers from all parts of the world to Germany. In the foreground are some of the mail bags to be loaded and to the extreme left can be seen some of the C-74 crew members. At the extreme right are crew members of a plane which had just arrived from Alaska bringing in gifts for the project. The women and children are family members of "Operation Little Vittles" personnel from Brookley Air Force Base and Mobile, Ala. 
 Photo courtesy of the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum
  • Miniature parachutes can be seen dropping from U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Gail S. Halvorsen's C-54 as he brings the plane in for a landing at Tempelhof Airport.  Photo courtesy of the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum
  • A young girl with one of the estimated 150,000 "Schokoladenflieger" parachute gifts dropped over Berlin by Halvorsen and his fellow pilots.  Photo courtesy of the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum
  • U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Anke Dzincielewski pauses near the Berlin Airlift Memorial on Rhein-Main Air Base, on March 24, 2003.  Dzincielewski grew up in East Germany and remembers life before the Berlin Wall came down.   U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Keith Reed
  • Michael Kud-Kudijaroff looks over a plaque dedicated by the Ramey Air Force Base Historical Association to the former Ramey Officers’ Club at Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen, Puerto Rico, March 23, 2007. Kud-Kudijaroff grew up in Berlin and received a chocolate bar dropped by then-U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Gail S. Halvorsen from a C-54 Skymaster during the Berlin Airlift in 1948, and met him for the first time during the Ramey Air Force Base Historical Association Reunion here. It was an emotional moment that he savored as he recalled the meaning the parachute candy held.

"I put the chocolate in my mouth and let it lay there," Kud-Kudijaroff said. "You didn't want to chew it and swallow it. I just wanted to enjoy the moment. I think the world would be a lot better if we had more Gails." U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Ben Gonzales
  • Retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Gail Halvorsen, the famed "Candy Bomber" of the Berlin Airlift fields questions from reporters at the closing of Rhein-Main Air Base, Germany. The colonel,  who maintained a relationship with the airlift base after the Airlift, attended the base's closing ceremony Oct. 10, 2005. The U.S. Air Force turned the base over to the Frankfurt Airport Authority in December 2005, 60 years after operations started there.   U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. John E. Lasky
  • A C-17 Globemaster III, christened the "Spirit of Berlin," taxis for the final flight from Rhein-Main Air Base, which was a supply station during the Berlin Airlift, Oct. 10, 2005. The flight marks the ceremonial closing of the base, the U.S. Air Force's longtime "Gateway to Europe."  U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. John E. Lasky
  • "The Spirit of Berlin," a C-17 Globemaster III, takes off during the base closure ceremony Oct. 10, 2005, officially marking the end of 60 years of airlift history. Flying at the base ended Sept. 30, 2005, and the "Gateway to Europe" transitioned to Ramstein and Spangdahlem air bases in Germany. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Marie Cassetty
  • Retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Gail S. Halvorsen, right, holds the newly authorized Berlin Airlift streamer aloft after U.S. Air Force Gen. Duncan J. McNabb presented it to him Oct. 29, 2005, at the Airlift Tanker Association convention in Nashville, Tenn. Units that  participated in the 1948-1949 humanitarian Berlin Airlift can include the streamer on their units' guidons.  U.S. Air Force photo
  • Retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Gail S. Halvorsen displays the newly authorized Berlin Airlift streamer presented to him Oct. 29, 2005, during the Airlift Tanker Association convention in Nashville, Tenn. Units that  participated in the 1948-1949 humanitarian airlift can include the streamer on their units' guidons.  Photo courtesy of the U.S. Air Force
  • Retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. James Spatafora and Earl Moore, the president of the Berlin Airlift Veterans Association, recite the pledge of allegiance during the Berlin Airlift plaque dedication at Veterans Memorial Park in Albuquerque, Oct. 4, 2006.  U.S. Air Force Photo by Staff Sgt. Jeremy Larlee
  • Some of the 150 attendees at the Berlin Airlift plaque dedication stand for the national anthem during Berlin Airlift plaque dedication at Veterans Memorial Park Oct. 4, 2006. U.S. Air Force Photo by Staff Sgt. Jeremy Larlee
  • The C-54 Skymaster "Spirit of Freedom" gets backed into a hangar March 24, 2008, at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla. The "Spirit of Freedom" was used during the Berlin Airlift and was at MacDill AFB as part of Phoenix Rally.  U.S. Air Force photo Staff Sgt. Joseph Swafford Jr.
  • Retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Gail S. Halvorsen pilots the C-54 Skymaster "Spirit of Freedom" March 24, 2008, over Tampa, Fla. Halvorsen was known as the Berlin "Candy Bomber" during the Berlin Airlift and was perfoming a flyover during a New York Yankee spring training game.  U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joseph Swafford Jr.
  • Retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Gail S. Halvorsen pilots the C-54 Skymaster "Spirit of Freedom" March 24, 2008, over Tampa, Fla. Halvorsen was known as the Berlin "Candy Bomber" during the Berlin Airlift and was performing a flyover during a New York Yankee spring training game.  U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman David Minor
  • Retired Lt. Col. Gail S. Halvorsen and the crew of C-54 Skymaster "Spirit of Freedom" land at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., March 24, 2008. The Spirit of Freedom flew over Steinbrenner Field for a New York Yankees spring training game. U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman David Minor