How A Conversation With A Group Of German Children Inspired The 'Candy Bomber'

Over Earth's long history, there have been many wars fought for various reasons. One of the most devastating conflicts to ever happen was World War II, where many of the major powers across the globe were at war with each other. The Second World War raged for six long years and resulted in between 40,000,000 and 50,000,000 deaths, making it the biggest and bloodiest war in history (per Britannica).

According to History, the German capital city of Berlin was divided among the Allies (Great Britain, the United States, France, and the Soviet Union) who won the war. This was done to try and avoid a repeat of WWII. Though intentions may have been good, by 1948, the Soviet Union decided to blockade the city to try and get the other Allies to give it up (per Mental Floss). Amidst the chaos, there were still innocent people residing there, and unfortunately, many of them were children. During the blockade, one group of kids and their interaction with an American Airman inspired one of the most heartwarming military operations in the post-war world.

Gail Halvorsen and the Berlin Air Lift

After the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the United States officially entered World War II. Following this horrific attack, Gail Halvorsen began training as a fighter pilot and would go on to serve during the rest of the conflict (per Los Angeles Times). Though his service during wartime was honorable, after the war's official end, he answer the nation's call again by participating in the Berlin Airlift.

When the Soviet Union cut off access to food, water, and fuel to the people of Berlin, the Allies decided they would do it themselves. According to History, cargo planes were used to deliver many necessary supplies to the German people via the open air space above the Western section of Berlin. Though it was initially designed to be a short-term solution, it ended up running much longer due to the fact that the Soviets refused to drop the blockade. In total, the Allies transported 2.3 million tons of cargo and supplies during the airlift.

A sweet mission brings joy to children

Gail Halvorsen participated in the Berlin Airlift, though initially, he wasn't really happy about it. In a 2009 interview (per HistoryNet), he said he didn't like the idea of aiding people that his country had just been at war with, especially because of the loss of his allies. He still had this mindset until he crossed paths with a group of German children who were watching the Allied planes at Templehof air base.

Halvorsen reportedly walked over to the fence the children were standing behind and had a chat with them. The kids reportedly told him, "Don't give up on us. If we lose our freedom, we'll never get it back." As he spoke with the children, he handed them two sticks of gum and asked them to return the following day, stating he would have more candy for them. True to his word, Halvorsen returned the next day and dropped more treats for the kids, some of which had been donated by his fellow pilots.

Halvorsen's actions reached newspapers, and soon, candy donations began to rapidly come in from the U.S. In total, the military would drop more than 21 tons of candy to the kids of Berlin, bringing joy to a dark situation (via Stars & Stripes). Halverson also earned multiple nicknames, including the Chocolate Flyer, the Candy Bomber, and Uncle Wiggly Wings for the wing maneuver he would do so the children could identify his planeĀ (perĀ Smithsonian Magazine).