Friday, October 7, 2016

The Berlin Airlift and the Candy Bomber

In 1947, road access to Berlin, Germany was blockaded by the East Germans with the support of the Soviet Union.  The Soviet Union was angry with the United States and the West for their  efforts to help the German economy revive.

President Truman supported the idea of an airlift that would continue to feed Berlin and show the world, and the Soviet Union, that the United States stood behind a free Berlin....even if it was an island in the rest of East Germany.   The Berlin Airlift succeeded and, eventually, the road was reopened.  

Gail Halorvson was a pilot during the airlift and had compassion and the German children, many of whom had never tasted real chocolate or candy.   He came up with the idea of making small parachutes that would drop chocolate for waiting children as the planes circled around and made their landings.

Soon  the popularity of this idea was made an official operation:  Operation Little Vittles (Vittles is a word for tasty treat).   Candy bar companies volunteered their products while Americans hurried and made little parachutes.  Over 23 tons of candy was dropped by over 250,000 small parachutes.  Many German children never forgot this generosity and it help to shape the attitudes of post war Germans toward the conquering Americans.

Halvorson's program became a legend in Germany and was not forgotten.  He has been honored extensively in both the United States and Germany for his efforts to rebuild post war trust after the devastation of World War II.