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Gail Halvorsen
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Hero
    (October 10, 1920- )
    Born in Salt Lake City, Utah
    Birth name is Gail Seymour 'Hal' Halvorsen
    Lieutenant, later Colonel
    Retired career officer and command pilot in the U.S. Air Force
    Raised on small farms in Utah and Idaho
    Earned a private pilot license under the non-college Civilian Pilot Training Program (September, 1941)
    Joined the Civil Air Patrol as a pilot, and later the United States Army Air Corps (June, 1942)
    Piloted C-47s and C-54s during the Berlin airlift (1948–49)
    Known as the original Candy Bomber, making regular supply drops of rations and toiletries for the children of Berlin
    Laid the groundwork for the project, spearheaded by Lieutenant General William H. Tunner, called 'Operation Little Vittles' (a takeoff of the code name for the overall airlift, Operation Vittles)
    Author of 'The Berlin Candy Bomber' (Published by Horizon Publishers, 1990)
    Received the Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (Großes Bundesverdienstkreuz), one of Germany’s highest honors, in 1974
    Was among the members of the Civil Air Patrol presented with a Congressional Gold Medal in recognition of their service in World War II (December 5, 2014)
    He never flew over the Berlin Wall.
    German kids called him 'Uncle Wiggly Wings' and 'the Chocolate Uncle.'
    The 'Uncle Wiggly Wings' title came from the fact that he made it a point to wiggle the wings of his plane during a 'candy bombing.'
    One suspects he dealt with a lot good-natured Air Force ribbing over his first name.
    He was famous for his non-alcoholic concoctions served at official Tempelhof Air Base parties.
    He and his first wife served as Latter Day Saints missionaries in London in he 1980s, and later Russia in the 1990s.
    He could have been a cool substitute for the Easter Bunny if he didn't evoke painful memories of war-torn Germany and the Cold War (and if the parachute part wasn't so difficult to execute - better to just hide the egged jelly beans in a bush somewhere).
    While sight-seeing on his day-off from flying, he came across some hungry German children gathered at the edge of the airport.
    He knew they were starving but only had two sticks of bubble gum to give them.
    Moved by how the children broke the sticks into tiny pieces so that each one would get a share, he told them to stand between the bombed out building and the barbed wire fence the next day, and to watch for his plane.
    He stayed up the whole night turning handkerchiefs into candy parachutes, which were dropped over Berlin to the children the next morning when he flew over. He and his crew would do it every time the flew over the city from then on.
    He thought he'd get in trouble with his superiors over the stunt, but his commanding officer authorized its expansion, realizing that it brought happiness to poverty-stricken children during a difficult time.
    The news broke all over the world, prompting a tremendous response from the American home front, who sent packages (usually containing candy, handkerchiefs, and/or parachutes to drop them with).
    Most famously, the National Confectioners Association partnered with Chicopee schoolkids to help attach candy to parachutes which were sent to Germany. By the end of the Airlift, close to 23 tons of chocolate and assorted candy had been dropped all over Berlin.
    He not only still flies aircrafts, but frequently accepts invitations to attend meetings with many of the German children, now grown adults, who received his candy parachutes in the late 40s.
    He engaged in ‘Airlift re-enactment’ ceremonies, in Berlin, for their 40th and 50th anniversary celebrations (1989; 1998).
    He traveled to Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, as part of Operation Provide Promise, dropping candy from a USAF C-130 of the 435th Airlift Wing, flying from Rhein-Main Air Base, Germany (1999).
    He carried the German national placard into Rice-Eccles Olympic Stadium during the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics' opening march.
    He played a role in extending Operation Provide to the children of Iraq, in 2004, when the US Military began dropping toys, teddy bears, and soccer balls to Iraqi children.
    His actions as the 'original candy bomber' had a transformational, symbolic affect on the postwar German-American relations and how they were perceived.

Credit: BoyWiththeGreenHair


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