Air Force loadmasters have been adding a sweet touch to the humanitarian airdrop bundles they prepare to help Iraqi families isolated by ISIS extremists in northern Iraq. In actions reminiscent of retired Col. Gail Halvorsen, the “Candy Bomber” who dropped packs of candy to German children while flying relief supplies during the Berlin Airlift in 1948-49, the loadmasters of the 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron have been taping bags of candy atop the airlift bundles to be loaded on C-17s and C-130s, according to an Air Forces Central Command release. The idea started with MSgt. Stephen Brown, who attached a pack of Skittles to an airdrop bundle to provide something special for the Iraqi children uprooted by the violence. “After that, everyone started making the drops a little personal with more candy, and I even think I saw a teddy bear,” Brown said. MSgt. Emily Edmunds, the 816th loadmaster supervisor, said: “We’ve been really impressed with the turn out and dedication of our wingmen. We are definitely not at the level of the Candy Bomber, but I’d give us an almost for our modern version of it.” Candy from care packages the airmen have received were added to the latest airdrop for the isolated town of Amirli.
The Air Force will begin its 71st annual Operation Christmas Drop on Dec. 4. The weeklong exercise is a yearly tradition that delivers supplies such as food, fishing equipment, school books, and clothes to remote islands in the Pacific. It is the longest-running Department of Defense humanitarian mission.