Who was The Candy Bomber?

Katie Strickler

The Candy Bomber 

              Gail Halvorsen exhibited the most crucial symbols of freedom and resilience during WWII and the Cold War. Gail Halvorsen was a United States military pilot who was known as the “Candy Bomber”or “Uncle Wiggly Wings” to many during the Cold War. Halvorsen grew up on a farm in Utah spending his time watching the planes flying over his head until he gained his private pilot’s license. He would go on to join the Army Air Corps in 1942 and would be called to action after World War II had ended to join the airlift with less than an hour’s notice. Gail was sleep deprived often but during the middle of the month he was given down time and decided to check out parts of Berlin. Soon enough he would notice small children watching the plane he was on landing, these children watched through barbed wire. (Public Broadcasting Service) Earlier in Gail’s days he had been followed by children which was no problem for him due to his love for kids, these children would beg him for candy. The children of Berlin wires were quiet and polite and had asked for one thing only: that the Americans not abandon the airlift when the weather turned bad. The children had no problem with going without food for a little while but “if we lose our freedom we may never get it back. (Magazine)

Between World War II and the Cold War one of the most crucial symbols of freedom and resilience was the candy bomber. 

              Halvorsen would show his use of freedom and resilience by  promising the children that he would come back the next day with more candy after giving them a couple sticks of gum. Worried, the children asked how they would recognize his plane “Don’t worry; as I approach, I’ll wiggle my wings.” Gail stated. Halvorsen created parachutes by tying strings to handkerchiefs and attaching those to candy bars and the next day he would release them on approach to Tempelhof and watched the kids excitedly hold the candy. (Public Broadcasting Service) This would be how Gail Halvorsen received the names of “Uncle Wiggly Wings” and the “Chocolate Flier”. Following his trips to give children candy his efforts wouldn’t go unnoticed by others. Halvorsen knew the rules of the Air Force and knew he had been violating the regulations and when his colonel heard the news of what he had been doing he gave Gail an earful. By the time his colonel had gotten to him the Berlin newspapers had gotten to the story of “Operation Little Vittles” and General William Tunner had approved the continuation of what Gail had been doing. (Magazine)

                Gale connected with other pilots and they joined in on the airdrops to express their resilience and freedom. Halvorsen’s home base would join in and the commanding officer demanded that any handkerchief sen would be requisitioned for “Little Vittles” and they reserved donations from the American Confectioners of tons of candy for the drops. By early 1949 around 250,000 parachutes had been dropped over Berlin and the operation reassured many that the West wouldn’t and hadn’t abandoned them. “It wasn’t just chocolate. It was hope” this was said by a young Berliner to Halvorsen. Gale was known by many and was given recognition such as having a school and an aircraft loader named after him in Germany, the Cheney award for “his humanitarian work”. Gail also continued to go to Germany over time to celebrate the anniversary of the candy drops. Later into Halvorsen’s years he wrote about his time being the Candy Bomber in his memoir called The Berlin Candy Bomber. (Public Broadcasting Service) 

             The children of the wars were extremely important to changing the world’s views of war and showed how important freedom and resilience really are. Death marches and freedom where two very different things to those in the nazi camps, they saw death marches but very little freedom. Those who escaped the death marches weren’t always shot at when they ran because the nazis believed they wouldn’t make it far because they would be running into the forest and wouldn’t survive. Children were forced into these camps and where killed, tortured, and more; all they had was the hope that those where were fighting for them wouldn’t forget about them and would return for them. Halverson never forgot about the children and would be shown the greatest resilience and freedom from them and would do great things for them. The children’s wills to survive and share would especially show Gale what freedom and resilience is. (Byers) 

              Gale Halvorsen continued throughout his life showing acts of freedom and resilience and reminding people and survivors each year of what happened and how he is a symbol. There are other symbols of freedom and resilience threw World War II and the Cold War but none are more crucial than the candy bombers’ story. The stories of the children in Berlin needed to be told and not only did Halverson tell them he helped them. In conclusion, between World War II and the Cold War there isn’t a more crucial story of freedom and resilience that the candy bomber.