Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Christmas from Heaven: The True Story of the Berlin Candy Bomber by Tom Brokaw

It all started with two sticks of gum. When World War II ended, large quantities of food, fuel and supplies were having to be airlifted into the devastated city of Berlin, Germany. A non-stop train of cargo planes were taking off, landing, unloading and then taking off again to meet the needs of the German people. The black cloud of communism was threatening to envelop all of Berlin.

On one of his stops in Germany, Gail "Hal" Halvorson, a pilot of one of the cargo planes, needed to stretch his legs. He walked the perimeter of the airfield and encountered a small group a children outside the fence. Neither he nor they could speak much or each other's language, but their short visit was friendly and warm. As he was leaving to return to his cargo plane, he reached into his pocket and discovered two sticks of gum. He passed the sticks through the fence and the children carefully and calmly divided the gum between themselves. 

Hal promised to return with more and drop it to them on his approach on his next trip. Because so many planes were landing, he said he would wiggle his wings or rock the wings back and forth, to signal it was his plane.

Hal and his buddies devised handkerchief parachutes with candy attached and would drop them through the flare tubes on the plane. The candy drops became larger and larger. Eventually cargo planes of candy were being delivered to germany. Hal's work as the Candy Bomber has been attributed to breaking the blockade of Berlin. 

-- SRB

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