While everybody was busy bombing the hell out of each other, other military pilots were more soft-hearted after World War II had ended. One of those pilots was World War II and Berlin Airlift Command Pilot Colonel Gail S. Halvorsen.

The Allies and the Axis forces were known to drop tons of different bombs on each other during the World War, with many remembering the terror the German Luftwaffe brought into the skies and the legendary Squadron B-29 Enola Gay, those Boeing B-29 Superfortress Bombers that were used to drop nukes on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But not Halvorsen. He dropped joy in the form of candy.

Colonel Gail Seymour "Hal" Halvorsen in uniform with German children in the background (Alchetron). Source: https://alchetron.com/Gail-Halvorsen
Colonel Gail Seymour “Hal” Halvorsen in uniform with German children in the background (Alchetron)

Yup, he didn’t drop bombs during the Cold War. He dropped the exact opposite of these explosives—sweets, chocolates, and candy along with tons of food and supplies to the people of post-World War II Berlin, Germany.

The Candy Bomber, as he was later known in Germany and the rest of the world, had passed away last Wednesday at the age of 101. Known for his extreme kindness and bringing happiness to the children of Berlin during the Berlin Airlift, the veteran spent most of his life helping children by reenacting his candy bombs throughout the years, repeating his kindness in various war-torn countries all his life as a humanitarian.

The Start Of Halvorsen’s ‘Sweet’ Life

Gail S. Halvorsen had always wanted to be a pilot ever since he was a child. Born in Salt Lake City, he was a farm boy who grew up in Rigby, Idaho, then Utah in his later life. As he dreamt of being a pilot, he immediately underwent the Civilian Pilot Training Program in 1941 and subsequently joined the Civil Air Patrol group under the United States Air Force. This would open up the opportunity for him to eventually join the Air Force, which he eventually did in May 1942.

Slowly, he achieved his childhood dream to be a pilot! After his training and the attack on Pearl Harbor, he became a transport pilot during World War II under the South Atlantic Theater. More so, he was a pilot that played an important role in feeding millions of starving people in Berlin—a mission that would launch his name into the history of Germany.

Halvorsen’s Operation Little Vittles

The Soviets, due to ideological differences with the west, had taken control of the Eastern side of Berlin and proceeded to cut off supply trains and water supplies to the Western side, leaving 2 million Germans on the brink of starvation and potential death.

Thus, the Berlin Airlift mission was born. The British and American forces jointly decided that they would start “Operation Vittles” (Operation Plainfare on the British side and Operation Pelican on the Australian side) to provide food, clothing, water, medicine, coal, and petrol for over 2 million citizens for a year—carrying over 2.5 million tons of supplies to their former enemies.