The Candy Bomber

The Candy Bomber Full

The Candy Bomber
 
Female VO
The Candy Bomber is made possible in part by the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation, and the contributing members of KUED. Thank you.
 
Narrator
In the summer of 1948, the world was at a crossroads. Many European cities remained in ruins from the war. Western allies and the Soviet Union were locked in a confrontation over the future of a defeated Germany. Millions were hungry and homeless, and armies strained against hastily drawn boundaries. In this dark time, an unlikely young man from Utah made one simple gesture, creating a ray of hope and humanity that captured hearts around the world.
 
Michael Kud-Kudijaroff
I just know that the first time I saw those parachutes coming down, and then realizing that there were chocolates, I thought wow, you know.
 
Gail “Hal” Halvorsen
It wasn’t the candy that was important. What was important was that somebody in America knew I was in trouble and somebody cared.
 
Narrator
The children of post-war Germany would never forget the tender miracle of Gail “Hal” Halvorsen of Garland, Utah, “The Candy Bomber.”
 
Narrator
The story of the Candy Bomber finds its roots in the final months of World War II. In February of 1945, Nazi Germany crumbled under the force of allied attacks. In the Russian seaside resort of Yalta, the Big Three of Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin met to outline their vision of a post-war world. The vanquished German nation would be drawn and quartered with France joining the United States, Britain and the Soviet Union as occupiers and administrators of four distinct German zones. Berlin, the capital of the German Nation and the symbolic heart of Nazism would likewise be divided. The division would allow the Western allies access to their Berlin sectors through Soviet-controlled territory. But many details were left hanging, and the devil of those details soon rose to the surface when Nazi Germany surrendered in May of 1945. As a broken nation tried to dig its way out of the rubble, the wartime alliance of Western nations and the Soviet Union was pulling apart. Each step by each side was viewed with suspicion, and in the summer of 1948 the uneasy alliance fell apart.
 
Newsreel narrator
In violation of solemn agreements, the Soviet blockaded the Western zone of Berlin and left two million citizens faced with starvation. Power failed. Industry came to a standstill. Goods piled up. Berlin's arteries had been closed off. At Helmstadt, on the border between the eastern and western zones of Germany, food for the people of Berlin was blocked and allowed to rot.
 
Gail “Hal” Halvorsen
We didn’t have any written agreement to access Berlin on the ground. So Stalin says, “I don’t have to let your supplies go to two million people.” But Truman says, “We’re in Berlin. We’re going to stay and we’re going to fly supplies.” And most of the advisors said, “We’re going to look stupid. You can’t supply two million people by air. It’s never been done before. It’s not our responsibility.” But Truman got tired of that and he says, “Look, end of discussion.” The British, like Bevin and Attlee and the French said, “We agree. We’re going to do that rather than start World War III and start a fight.” And so that’s how we were flying. That’s why we were flying stuff into Berlin because we had a right to.
 
Guy Dunn
When it first started, General Lee said, “Hell, we’re providing food for Berlin. Let’s call it “Operation Vittles.”
 
Gail “Hal” Halvorsen
My first flight into Berlin, and came over the city, it’s like a moonscape. And you’ll see it in my film. Just like how could two million people live in this rubble? And then land with 20,000 pounds of flour in Tempelhof. You just came out of space. I didn’t have any interaction with the community and what they’re like. Got out of the cockpit, walked back there. They opened the back doors, let the truck back up to pick up 20,000 pounds of flour. And about six of these guys came forward to unload the flour. And instead of starting they came right up, put out their hands. Couldn’t understand what they were saying. But boy, from their eyes looking at that flour and back to us like we were angels from heaven. We were on the same page. We had flour and we had freedom, and they wanted both.
 
Guy Dunn
General Clay put the Berliners on 1,500 calories a day as long as they weren’t working with the airlift. Well, eventually with dehydrated food, we got them up to 1,800 calories a day.
 
Gail “Hal” Halvorsen
We’d fly through three air corridors. The northern corridor that came in from Hannover in the northern Germany into Berlin across East Germany. And the southern corridor coming up from Frankfurt into Berlin. And the center corridor coming out. The corridors were 20 statute miles wide, and if we stayed within the corridors they weren’t supposed to bother us or force us down or whatever. We didn’t know if they were going to shoot at us coming into the corridors. We’d fly over their fighter fields. I mean, they had fighter fields everywhere.
 
 
 
Guy Dunn
There was two fighter bases that we flew over on the south corridor going into Tempelhof. The Russians would always try to come up and force you out of the corridor. All you had to do to get him to break off his formation with you was to take a camera and stick it in the window toward him and he immediately peeled off.
 
Gail “Hal” Halvorsen
But they’d come up head on. They’d come up right head on with you and at the last minute would pull off. And some of them would come up behind you, come up behind your wing and go over your wing. Well, we just waited for them to shoot. And then we find out why they didn’t shoot. President Truman put 60 B-29 bombers on the runway in England and they sent a note to Stalin. He said, “Hey, buddy, if you shoot at those transports you’re going to have a fire in Moscow.” When we first started in July landing in Tempelhof, we'd go into the terminal building where they had a great snack bar and you’d get hot dogs, hamburgers, and I had hot chocolate. We would not stay there. We’d just stay there long enough to unload, and we wouldn’t take any fuel on. Actually, we’d bring fuel in to fly out. We’d have enough to get in and back out and just a little bit more. And so when Tunner came, he went into Berlin and he found some airplanes sitting there empty and the guys in the line at the snack bar inside waiting to be served. And he says, “No more of that stuff, guys. You don’t leave your airplane. You stand right by that airplane, and at the time that last sack of flour or coal’s off the airplane or dry potatoes or dried eggs,” everything was dried we could dry to cut down the weight. He said, “You get that number three engine started and get that bird out of here and get another load.” And we thought oh, that’s going to be kind of miserable and it was raining. He said, “I don’t care if it’s raining or snowing. You get in the airplane, sit in the cockpit and wait for them to unload it.” But he made up for it. He sent the weatherman around to the airplane. He sent the clearance guy around the airplane to say you’re clear to go or whatever. And then he made a mobile snack bar, a bunch of mobile snack bars on wheels. And he put some beautiful German frauleins in there, and they’d come back with hamburgers, hot dogs, hot chocolate, everything that the guys wanted. And they are very friendly and wave, and boy, that was better than inside. No line. We were the only guys in line. They were friendly because they knew we -- I never had a date on the whole airlift, it was foreboden. And guys flying, that’s all we were doing. At first we had to fly three round trips a day, day or night or whatever it was. That took about 16 hours.
 
Brigitte Murdock
The airplane flies over the cemetery hemmed in by two high-rise apartments, and then there was just a fence, a chain-length fence. And right there was, again, a high-rise. So when they were coming in, they had to be real quick like on the runway and stop.
 
Gail “Hal” Halvorsen
In the beginning we landed on pure steel planking. It’s a big plank of steel, just panels put together because they didn’t have a paved runway. Hitler didn’t pave the runway for us at Tempelhof in Berlin. And we’d land in the same place because the runway’s really short and we had to get downright quick, pound and pound. We had women work for us on each side of the runway. And as soon as that airplane passed and landed, they’d come on with old-fashioned wheelbarrows and sand and sit on crowbars, raise it up, pour sand under this mat. Only one man in this whole crew, he’d pour tar under it. And then they’d blow a horn as an airplane was about to land. They’d get off the runway. You’ll see it. Actually, I didn’t see any Air Force footage. I took it myself. And then we madly built two hard-surface runways almost before it was too late. Just barely before this thing was not usable.
 
Guy Dunn
This was one of the worst winters they’d had in years. Fog was thicker than it should be. Very seldom could you ever see more than two or three sets of runway lights at either Rhein-Main, Wiesbadan or Tempelhof.
 
Gail “Hal” Halvorsen
And we couldn’t land in the airplane because we’re in a cloud except by using an old-fashioned radio range that we had. Low-frequency range, Adcock range. Nobody knows about it anymore. But General Tunner changed the procedures. He got expedited ground-controlled-approach radars. The radar that could bring you through the cloud and get you down fast. You just come in and keep going. He said, “When the weather’s bad and even with radar you can’t see the land, you pull up and you take the load right back to Germany.”
 
Michael Kud-Kudijaroff
As a seven-year-old, I wasn’t aware of the blockade itself. But I just noticed there was a lot of planes coming in. They’re basically flying almost over our roof to get into Tempelhof. But I know that we did get care packages. And what they do is they made boxes, and they had powdered egg, powdered milk. I know the powdered egg and powdered milk because I had a lot of it. And then they had one where you had stamps for it, like the bread and the milk and so forth.
 
Brigitte Murdock
You should’ve seen the food lines. My mother had my brother and myself standing in line, and she would be in the third line someplace. You know, because each store, like it wasn’t a supermarket like we have here. It was a grocery store, a bread store. So we stood there, and my mother would come and see how close we were to getting it. But that’s what you did. They gave you a hundred grams of this. They may not have butter, so they gave you margarine. Well, what now if the margarine went out they had lard. We’d never had lard in our lives. But you know, you eat anything.
 
Gail “Hal” Halvorsen
I came back from Berlin one day, the 17th of July. Landed in Rhein-Main. Supposed to go to bed and in the wee hours start to fly again that night. And I thought this airlift to be over right away. A kid off the sugar beet farm in Utah wanting to see what it was like on the ground in Berlin. I thought it’s going to be over in the two weeks and they’re going to send us home. We’ll never be able to get around the town on the ground. And so I had my movie camera. Carried my movie camera with me all the time. And right next to me on the next hard stand getting ready to start engines, just finished loading was Bill Christian, a buddy of mine from Mobile. And so I got on with Bill Christian. All I needed was my uniform, this uniform, my ticket. And there’s an airplane coming back every five minutes. I wouldn’t have any trouble getting home. And so I went back to Berlin and it was a beautiful clear day. And before I got the Jeep, I called my buddy, Larry Caskey and says, “Hey, hold the Jeep. I want to get some pictures of the approach. If I ever get married I want to show my kids. And I’m going to go around two miles around the airfield and shoot pictures. And I’ll be back, and just hold the driver.”
 
Gail “Hal” Halvorsen
So I ran -- good shape. And I ran around the side of the field from the terminal building and inside the barbwire fence all the way around shooting the movies, and suddenly right in front of me I was aware that there were 30 kids plastered right up against the barbwire. And I was there and I got so interested in them. And they were encouraging me. They said, “Hey, you know it’s July. You just wait until fall and winter comes. You’re not going to be able to get in here. But when that happens don’t give up on us. We can live without everything we want to eat if some day we have our freedom.” Eight to fourteen years old, these kids were telling me, an American, what freedom meant. I couldn’t believe it. And all of a sudden I’m going holy cow, I mean, I said, “I got to run, kids. Don’t worry. We won’t quit. We’ll never quit. They won’t give up.” Started to run. Little voice said, “Boy, these kids are unusual. How come?” And, “Well, boy, they know what the value is. Freedom’s more important than flour.” And I started walking again. And it still bothered me. And then I knew immediately why the change was so distinct and there was a trigger that caused the thing to happen. During the war and after, had to fly into foreign countries in South America and other places where the kids had some chocolate and gum, and had maybe not all they wanted to eat but enough. And to see walking down the street in those towns in an American uniform they’d chase you in groups like that. Grab you. “Hey, gum chum,” or, “Chocolate? You got American chocolate?” And we’d carry stuff with us and give them stuff and they’d take off. And these kids had no gum, no chocolate for months. Not enough to eat. And I suddenly realized that not one of these 30 kids had put out their hand or by voice inflection triggered me to say, “Hey, these kids would like some chocolate, gummy.” That restraint, I couldn’t believe that maturity that not one would break ranks. It would never have happened if one child had said gimme. And because it didn’t and when I realized that it blew my mind. I reached in my pocket and all I had was two sticks of gum. Wrigley’s Doublemint Gum. I thought try and give them that you’re going to have bloody noses. You’re going to have a fight. Get out of here. I said, “I’ll never see them again.” I couldn’t come back to the fence. I don’t know how or ever. Never see them again. It was a freak that I was there. And so I said, “Well, give them what you got. They’re incredible.” So I put my hand in my pocket and looked back at the fence, and boy, when I put my hand in my pocket those kids just really came to attention. Pulled it out two sticks and broke it in half. Went back, four pieces through the barbwire. The kids were talking to me the most. Here come the rest of them. I thought boy, I see mixed boys and girls. But they didn’t. They were asking for something. And then it was obvious. They wanted a piece of the wrapper. And the guys and gals that got half a stick of gum tore off the outer wrapper and the tin foil and passed it to the other kids. And the kids that didn’t get any gum took that piece of paper and held it up to their nose and smelled it and smelled it. Just the smell of a piece of paper. I just stood there dumbfounded. I just couldn’t believe it. I said, “Boy, I got to do something for these guys.” And about that time an airplane came over my head and landed right behind me. Taking the pictures and I got an idea. I said, “Boy, I can deliver tomorrow to these same kids without losing any sleep. I can drop it out of the airplane.” And then a red light came on. You can’t do that. You got to have permission for something like that. Then I rationalized. And that’s how you get in trouble, rationalize. I said, “You know, this airlifts not according to Hoyle. Starving two million people. What’s a few sticks of gum?” And so I just almost feel bad. I said, “Look, kids.” I thought well, I shouldn’t be saying this but I’m going to say it anyway to them. I said, “Kids, just come back here tomorrow and I’m going to drop enough out of my airplane if you’ll share it, enough gum for all of you to share if you’ll do that.” Oh, boy. They just blew up. “Jawohl, jawohl, jawohl. We’ll do it.” And so I started to run. They said, “Wait a minute.” And I said, “What’s the matter?” “Got to know what airplane you’re in. Every few minutes an airplane comes in. We can’t watch them all. Tiny package. Got to know the airplane.” And then I said, “Well, I just fly a different airplane every time.” They said, “Well, we just really need to know.” And then I remembered when I learned to fly in Garland, Utah in the summer of 1941 when I first learned to fly from Brigham City in that first flight class, went up over Garland and then over to Logan on a cross country. And when I got over Garland, over our farm, my dad was down there with the two horses, cultivator cultivating beets and Mom was in the garden. But those days you had to learn how to recover from spins. So I knew how to spin really well. I thought I’d show him how I can fly. Pulled up the nose and did a two-turn spin over the farm. Came back that night, Dad met me at the door and said, “You’re through flying.” I said, “Why?” And he said, “Mom thought you were going to crash and she’s still not feeling very good. You almost gave her a heart attack.” I said, “I won’t do that anymore. I promise I won’t do that anymore.” When I come over the farm after that flying in the summer of 1941 I wiggled the wings of the airplane. So I got that idea. I told the kids, “When I come over the airport first, I have to come over a beacon over the airport. When I come over that at first if you can see me, I’m not in the clouds, I’ll wiggle the wings of that big airplane. When you see the four-engine airplane wings wiggle that’s got the stuff. Just watch that one airplane.” “Oh, boy,” they said. So I went back to Rhein-Main. I went to the base exchange, bought all of the candy and chocolate and gum I could. I had a ration card. You couldn’t buy very much. And I went to my copilot engineer and I said, “Got to have your ration,” and they gave it to me. Had candy bars and gum, big double handful. Boy, that’s heavy. And the smell of that. I couldn’t wait to get back. But a hit in the head with that going a hundred and ten miles an hour would make the wrong impression because I’d be going fast right over their heads about a hundred feet in the air. And then I got the idea to put handkerchief parachutes on it. I had a lot of handkerchiefs so I took three handkerchief parachutes, tied a third on each, rolled them up. Next day about four noon, still a good day. Looked down there. There’s those thirty kids right in a bunch. They didn’t tell another soul. I wiggled the wings and they just blew up. I worried that the airplanes lined up to take off had seen them come out and reported it, but I was more worried that I’d pulled it over the barbwire fence on the runway where they couldn’t get it. Taxi had to take off along the barbwire and there were three handkerchiefs waving through the barbwire at all the airplanes and their mouths were going up and down. And they’d shared it. And they were waving like crazy and I said, “I wish they wouldn’t do that.” So we waved back at them. Every day they were out there. Every day we’d come out, more kids waving. We got a ration, weekly ration again. I said, “Let’s do it again.” Three times we did it. And then the weather was bad in West Germany. We couldn’t tell where to land in West Germany. So I said, “We’re half unloaded. I’m going to run into the base office to ask why the weather man didn’t come by.” Ran in the base office. There’s a huge planning table for maps. On top of it was a stack of mail. I wondered what the mail was doing there for. My girlfriend hadn’t written me for a while. Didn’t expect mail in Berlin. But I wondered why the mail wasn’t delivered. I went up and looked at it and it says, “To Uncle Wiggly Wings, Tempelhof Base Operations. To the (inaudible), Tempelhof Base Operations.” I said, “Holy cow. We’re in trouble.” I forgot about the weather. Ran back out and said, “Guys, we’re in trouble. We got to stop. There’s a post office full of mail in there.” We stopped. For two weeks we stopped. We said, “Once more and that’s all.” And whenever you say that you’re already too far. So once more we took six parachutes, came back the next day, wiggled the wings, Mayday celebration, dropped it and said, “That’s it. We’re through.” Too late. Next day came back from Berlin, Rhein-Main, an officer came on the airplane. “Halvorsen, Colonel Hahn wants to see you right now.” I said, “What for?” He says, “He’ll tell you.”
 
Guy Dunn
He said, “What are you doing, Gail?” And he says, “Flying, sir.” And he says, “No, no. What else are you doing?” He says, “Nothing.” He said, “Well, the news reporter got hit in the head with a chocolate bar.” Old Gail says -- at that time he says, “Oh, I’m going to be court-martialed.”
 
Gail “Hal” Halvorsen
Pulled out a newspaper, threw it on the counter. There was a cutout of my operation on it. Almost hit a German newspaper guy in the head with a candy bar on the last drop. He had the story all over the world. And General Tunner had called him up and said, “Hahn, what do you doing dropping parachutes over Berlin?” And Hahn said, “General, we’re not dropping parachutes over Berlin.” And he said, “Colonel, you better find out what’s happening in your outfit.” Chunk.
 
Guy Dunn
Gail had to report to General Tunner, and Tunner thought this was a great idea, which was the beginning of “Operation Little Vittles.”
 
Gail “Hal” Halvorsen
And come back from Berlin. My bed would be filled with candy bars and gum. We ran out of parachutes and the kids would send back old ones for refills.
 
Guy Dunn
Gail started asking around for donations of candies and handkerchiefs, and as a result quite a few of us got involved during our off-duty time tying candy to parachutes. We’d get a lot done. We’d take it, and each pilot in our squadron ended up dropping candy to kids on Berlin.
 
Gail “Hal” Halvorsen
The women’s clubs would be tying up the parachutes, and it just went crazy from there on.
 
Gail “Hal” Halvorsen
We had two German secretaries the base commander gave us to answer all the letters. They’d give me really special letters and say, “What do you want to do about this guy?” Well, Peter Zimmerman says, “I’m nine years old, my legs aren’t very long and I’m not getting this stuff.”
 
Child VO
Didn’t get any gum or candy. A bigger kid beat me to it.
 
Gail “Hal” Halvorsen
They made me a parachute, perfect parachute. They made me a map. And he said, “When you take off out of Tempelhof, come down to Canal, second bridge turn right, one block. I live in the bombed out house in the corner. I’ll be in the backyard every day at 2:00. Drop it there.” And so I tried to find Peter Zimmerman. They’d let me do that. In good weather, I’d unload the load. The tower would let me fly around and make special deliveries, hospitals and other stuff. And I couldn’t hit Peter Zimmerman. Finally he wrote me and said, “Look,” he said --
 
Child VO
You are a pilot. I gave you a map. How did you guys win the war anyway?
 
Gail “Hal” Halvorsen
Well, I gave up on Peter. I took a big package of gum and candy to Berlin. I mailed it to him in the Berlin mail. You couldn’t mail it to Berlin, but you got to say you could mail it in the mail. His dad and mom were killed during the bombing of Berlin and he lived with an uncle and he wanted to be an American citizen. And I had barracks bags with kids who wanted to write kids and send for pen pals and State Department. Put his in the State Department bag, and he was adopted by a family in Palm, Pennsylvania. He needed shoes and we took some shoes to Berlin and imprinted the size and gave it to him. Became good friends. Never met him. Never met him. I had a little girl who wrote. She says, “I’m Mercedes, and you’re causing us a terrible problem.” And of course that got my attention right away. It said, “We live right on the approach just before you land.”
 
Child VO
We live near the airfield at Tempelhof, and our chickens think your airplanes are chicken hawks, and they become frightened when you fly over to land. They run in the shelter and some molt with no more eggs from them. When you see the white chickens, please drop the chocolate there. All will be okay. Your little friend, Mercedes.
 
Gail “Hal” Halvorsen
Well, I couldn’t find a white chicken. By that time, we’re getting supplies out the ears. I told my buddies, "Bomb the approach." My buddies were dropping like I was. Bomb the approach. Still missed Mercedes. So I took a big package of gum and candy to Berlin and mailed it to Mercedes.
 
Michael Kud-Kudijaroff
All of a sudden, a slew of airplanes were coming in. I mean, they were just constantly just coming in one, two minutes apart. As soon as the runway cleared another one would land. Since we lived so close to the airport, they were kind of low so you could see them almost like hey, I can touch these planes. That was kind of neat. I saw those parachutes coming down, and then realizing that there were chocolates. I thought wow, you know. And I don’t even know if I was thinking if they came out of a airplane or if they came from heaven or something like that. It’s just that I know they were coming down and it was chocolate. My brother, who was about seven years older -- eight years older than I am, so he was fifteen then, he told me to just sit there and wait. And when brother said something you listened because if he didn’t punish you then Dad would punish you for not listening to him. And so I waited. He ran up there and he picked as many as he could find of those chocolate because, I mean, every kid was really scrambling there. Kids were all over the place. And he came back, and I believe we got about between eight or ten bars that he got. And he says, “I got some chocolate.” I says, “Okay. Let me have some.” Well, he wouldn’t give them to me. He took it home and he gave it to Mother who knew how to ration it and to make it stretch. So every night before bed she gave every child a square of chocolate. You put it in your mouth and you don’t chew it. You just kind of saliva out it and try to make it last as long as you can.
 
Gail “Hal” Halvorsen
In September 1948, General Tunner said, “They want somebody to go back to New York and tell the press all about what the airlift’s like from a personal standpoint, and I want you to go and pick up and airplane and bring it back.” Went to New York on We the People television, radios and all over the place for a week. And the American Confectioner’s Association president, Mr. King and Mr. (Swerzy?) from one of the candy companies said, “We’ll give you all you can drop. Whatever you can do, we’ll send it to you.” Well, they sent over 6,600 pounds of candy bars by boat and by rail to Rhein-Main for Christmas, and my guys ferried that over. But the volume was so high we couldn’t tie the parachutes up. So we had a ground party on the ground in Berlin for that 6,600 pounds of candy bars.
 
Brigitte Murdock
They had actually Christmas for the kids, and that was part of the airlift where the soldiers were asked to help get food ready. And I happened to be there, so of course quick like a bunny I smell this right there and ate my fill.
 
 
Gail “Hal” Halvorsen
Elms College, Junior College in Chicopee, Massachusetts got a hold of me and said, “We’ll tie off the parachutes.” They organized 22 schools around Chicopee, Massachusetts near Westover Air Force Base, the major air base that supplied Rhein-Main, and they got a fire station, and they turned out 800 pounds every other day in cardboard boxes, big cardboard boxes, parachutes ready to drop. And I’ve got a documentation from Chicopee that they had processed 18 tons through the seven months, first seven months.
 
Gail “Hal” Halvorsen VO
This is a mail bag that is filled with goodies for Operation Little Vittles. Got some help from my buddies. They really made it possible to do all of the things we needed to do to keep the airlift going.
 
Gail “Hal” Halvorsen
We figure we dropped over 20 tons. The estimate is 250,000 parachutes over West Berlin. Quit dropping around the airfield. We were afraid of kids getting hurt. So we dropped it at 1,500 and 2,000 feet as we’d come around the city. All over the city. Plastered the city. The kids at East Berlin wrote and they said, “Hey, we can’t help it where they put the border. We’re over here. These Russians -- I hope you’re not mad at us, but we’re catching some of these things that you mean for these free Berlin kids. We don’t have any chocolate, either.” And then the last paragraph was the payoff. It said, “When you come over East Berlin to land, drop it over here. There’s not many people and we’ll have a lot better chance at it.” And I said, “Why not?” So we were getting stuff like crazy. So I’d save it and go over East Berlin, see a soccer match and drop it. And the soccer ball would take off to the Joneses and the kids would chase the parachutes. And they’d have -- well, two weeks of this. Came back from Berlin, Tempelhof to Rhein-Main an officer met the airplane. Okay. What’s up? He said, “What are you doing over East Berlin?” I said, “I’m dropping to those nasty communist kids.” “You can’t do that.” I said, “The law of gravity’s the same on both sides of the border.” He said, “That’s not the problem.” He said, “The Soviets had complained to the State Department that it's a dirty capitalist trick. You’re trying to influence the minds of the people against them. You’ve got to stop because we haven’t jurisdiction over that air space you’re using.” So I had to stop.
 
Gail “Hal” Halvorsen
They let people come out on the field and control and talk to the pilots while they were unloading. And boy, they’d bring us gifts. All kinds of little gifts. I’ve still got a bunch of the things they brought to me. They’d bring things out and express their gratitude. One woman and her little daughter came out there at my airplane one day, and she had a teddy bear. She’s holding it tight and she came right up to me and handed it to me. And I said, “Holy cow.” I could tell that probably the only thing she had left. I tried to refuse it. I said, “No, no. That’s okay. No. I don’t need your teddy bear.” But I said, “Why do you want to give it to me? And her English was -- she learned in school and her mother was prompting her here and there. But she couldn’t get the word, but she wanted to tell me herself. She said, “During the bombing of Berlin and we were either in our own cellar if we didn’t have time or in the air-raid shelter. And this teddy bear was with me all the time, was my good luck symbol and it saved my life. And I want to give it to you.” And I said, “Why?” And she says, “So it’ll save the lives of the people that are flying into Berlin. I want to do all I can to help you.” And her mother said, “You need to take it.” And I took it. I’ve still got pictures bringing it into Hill Field when I came back, that teddy bear. And girlfriend, Alta Jolley, had agreed to marry me and we went through three kids before that teddy bear despaired. But that was the indication of the change and the shift of the feeling. And it fully brought the West Germans into Western camp.
 
Narrator
The Russians lifted the blockade in May 1949, and the Berlin Airlift ended the 30th of September that same year. During its 15 months of activity, the airlift provided over 2,300,000 tons of supplies carried on over 278,000 flights. Over 20 tons of candy were also delivered to the grateful citizens and children of West Berlin.
 
Gail “Hal” Halvorsen
The Berlin Airlift was the healing balm on the wounds of war. It spawned NATO. The Marshall Plan was hand in glove with it. Such a powerful force of America and England, Great Britain doing what they could to help.
 
Narrator
The success of the Berlin Airlift was undeniable, but it came with a cost.
 
Gail “Hal” Halvorsen
Thirty-one of my Air Force buddies, and 39 of my British comrades gave their lives for an enemy to become a friend. That’s how much the feeling changed, how important it was in the minds of -- why? Because of gratitude, going back to gratitude again. When people are so grateful and their lives are on the line, we accept it.
 
Narrator
Colonel Halvorsen remained in the Air Force, and in 1970 returned to Berlin to serve as commander of Tempelhof Airfield. Over the years, he continues to tell his story of the airlift and “Operation Little Vittles.” His love for people, especially children, is as clear now as it was 65 years ago.
 
Gail “Hal” Halvorsen
When we went back in 1998 with that airplane, we could tell immediately everybody that came through the airplane had been there during the blockade of Berlin by the look in their eyes. One man, I could see him stand off to the side gaining his composure. And when people stopped coming through, came up to me and said, “I’m 60 years old,” he said, “50 years ago I was a boy of ten going to school and the clouds were very low and the rain was coming down. I could hear your airplanes landing, but I couldn’t see any. And suddenly out of the cloud came a parachute with a fresh Hershey candy bar.” He said, “It took me a week to eat that candy bar. I hid it day and night.” But he said, “It wasn’t the candy that was so important. What was important was that somebody in America knew I was in trouble and somebody cared.”
 
Michael Kud-Kudijaroff
I did talk to Colonel Halvorsen. I personally met him, and I didn’t know until the day that I met him the history of the whole thing. That he was the deliverer and I was the recipient.
 
Brigitte Murdock
He took a chance too, because I think in those years it wasn’t even allowed basically to talk to the conquered. Well, what can kids do that are half naked because they have no clothes? Hungry. They were curious.
 
Guy Dunn
He should go down in history as one of the great Americans because of his attitude, his kindness, his desire for people to stay free.
 
Brigitte Murdock
I have an idea of what a nice person is like, and he is it.
 
Michael Kud-Kudijaroff
He did something that he didn’t have to do. It wasn’t in his contract. It wasn’t, you know, anything that would get him, you know, promoted faster or anything like that. It was just out of his heart he decided I’m going to help these kids out. I’m going to make them feel good just this much a day. It’s out of good. The world needs more Hal Halvorsens.
 
Female VO
The Candy Bomber is made possible in part by the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation, and the contributing members of KUED. Thank you.