The Berlin Air Lift
During WW II in Yalta, the Allies, US, UK, France and Russia, had agreed to split occupied Germany and Berlin into four sectors. The Russians had decimated the heavily defended Berlin in a horrible series of street battles that cost an extimated 200,000 Russian casualties.
The Russians, intent on exacting revenge on the Germans, had blocked off access to Berlin and the German inhabitants were starving.
The only access to Berlin open to US Forces was through a narrow air corridor into Berlin's Templehof Airport. The Russians had threatened to shoot down any planes that strayed from that corridor.
The cold war had begun.
My Dad, even after experiencing the horror of war and the outrage of the Holocaust, felt it was his duty as a human being to help the starving masses of Berlin.
He volunteered to be part of the Berlin Airlift and do what he could to stop the suffering.
A constant stream of C47, and C54 cargo planes flew in and out of that narrow Templehof corridor transporting water, coal, food, tools, medicine and clothing to supply the inhabitants.
Lt Gail Halvorsen, (pictured above left), watched the children of Berlin in the rubble, some barefoot, as he flew into Templehof and thought of his own family at home.
He came up with an idea to make the kids lives a little more bearable.
He and his crew collected their candy rations and those of their buddies, and began fashioning tiny parachutes out of handkerchiefs to drop the candy to the kids as they flew in on their approach.
It was dubbed Operation "Little Vittles".
Lt. Halvorsen was known as the "Candy Bomber" to the GIs and as "Uncle Wiggley WIngs" to the German Children, because he'd wiggle his wings as he came in to alert the kids.
Word soon spread, and my Mom and the other dependent wives and families started chipping in.
The story hit the Military Newspaper, Stars and Stripes, and was soon picked up by the press in the USA.
Once the American people became aware of the extent of the suffering of the Berliners, a heartfelt pouring of aid began to flow,
Along with the necessities for survival, there were now clothes, shoes and toys for the children flying in. Some of the parachutes were even constructed with donated silk scarves.
Some of these treasures have been kept and are now family heirlooms and reminders of the humanity of the American People.
Thank you Gail Halvorsen, you made us proud.
USAFE Berlin Airlift Site
Berlin Airlift Veteran's Association
Berlin Airlift Historical Foundation
Berlin Airlift: Ursula Yunger
Col. Gail Halvorsen...Book
Operation Little Vittles
Richard (Dick) Bong flew a P38 in the PTO during WWII.
He was the USAAF's Ace of Aces. Dick's widow and love of his life, Marge, has been instrumental in setting up the Bong Heritage Center and museum in his memory.
His P38 Lightning, Marge, named for his lovely wife, has been restored and is at the center.