Berlin Airlift’s Candy Bomber Honored

Officials dedicated the C-17 Aircrew Training Center at JB Charleston S.C., in honor of retired Col. Gail Halvorsen, the famous “Candy Bomber” of the 1948-49 Berlin Airlift. “Halvorsen’s kindness provides the ‘why’ to what we do day in and day out as an airlift wing,” said Col. Erik Hansen, 437th Airlift Wing commander, as he christened the center on June 15, according to Charleston’s June 18 release. Famed for dropping packets of candy out the window of his C-47 and C-54 transports to German children in bombed-out Berlin during the Soviet blockade, Halvorsen’s greatest legacy was the “compassion” he showed as an airman, stressed Hansen. “When I first flew over Berlin, I could look through the buildings,” recounted Halvorsen—now 92 years old—at the ribbon cutting. “I didn’t understand how two million people could have lived there,” he recalled. “There are 31 American heroes and 39 British heroes of the Berlin Airlift . . . and, I’m not one of them,” said Halvorsen as he accepted the honor for his fellow airmen who died in crashes during the airlift. (Charleston report by A1C Tom Brading) (See also The Berlin Airlift from Air Force Magazine’s archives.)