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The Berlin Candy Bomber is the story of how two sticks of gum and one man’s kindness to the children of a vanquished enemy grew into an epic of goodwill—spanning the globe and touching the hearts of millions in both Germany and America.
In June 1948, Russia cut off the flow of food and supplies to Berlin. The Americans, joined by the English and French, began a massive airlift to bring sustenance to the city and thwart the Russian siege.
Gail Halvorsen was one of hundreds of U.S. pilots involved in the airlift. While in Berlin, he met a group of children standing by the airport watching the planes. He was impressed to share two sticks of gum with them, and he promised to drop candy the next time he flew to the area.
The next day he wiggled the wings of his plane to identify himself and then dropped several small bundles of candy, using parachutes crafted from handkerchiefs. Local newspapers picked up the story. Suddenly, letters addressed to “Uncle Wiggly Wings” began arriving as the children requested candy drops in other areas of the city.
Enthusiasm spread to America, and candy contributions came from all across the country. The blockade and airlift ended in 1949, but the story of the Candy Bomber lives on—a symbol of human charity, and the candy drops have continued into a new century.