The Candy Bomber Lives: Is It You? (EP. 403)
Post WWII in Berlin, Russia engaged in one of its many and continuing attempts to expand its land, power and influence by harming millions of others. The US responded with the heroic and surprisingly successful Berlin Airlift, saving Berlin from the vengeful grip of Joseph Stalin.
At the same time, then US Army pilot Gary Halvorsen became famous for being the Candy Bomber, delighting and encouraging the children, their parents and all of Berlin by “bombing” the hungry, deprived children of Berlin with tons of candy. This sequence of events had started with the Allied bombing of Berlin during the war, moved to the Soviet post war aggression, then onto the Airlift, next to the Candy Bombing, to, eventually, freedom for all Germans. Each step played a critical part. Recently the legend of the Candy Bomber was honored when a modern group brought in critical supplies to beleaguered Ukraine in the name of the Candy Bomber.
Today, each of us, in our own way, can be a Candy Bomber, bringing delight and hope to anyone or any group in our lives. What is your way? What could be your way of doing exactly that?
That is the subject of today’s short-form episode.
N.B. This is a complete blog, also acting as a signpost, pointing you to this episode on both the new Revolution 2.0™ YouTube channel, and where you enjoy your podcasts, e.g., Apple, Google and Spotify.
As Russian bombs rain down on Ukraine in Putin’s effort to expand his empire, let’s remember when another Russian President, Joseph Stalin, tried to freeze and starve out most of divided Berlin in 1948 in his attempt at expanding his autocratic rule. Perhaps more importantly, let’s remember Gail Halvorsen, the justifiably famed “Candy Bomber,” an Army Air Force pilot who gave joy to the kids of Berlin, and hope to the adults, by parachuting–parachuting–candy in enormous quantities to the children of bombed out post WWII Berlin. Children who had little or nothing, and were simply hoping to survive. Stalin failed in his effort.
Then Lieutenant Gail Halvorsen made history by being part of the heroic Berlin Airlift, AKA Operation Vittles, a seemingly hopeless response to Stalin’s attempt to steal Berlin from his Allied partners. The Allies, primarily the US under President Truman, made the decision to fly in everything the citizens of blockaded Berlin needed to survive: Coal, food, clothing, medicine–everything. A flight every 30 seconds for 18 months, totalling 300,000 flights in all. In cold, drafty propeller driven planes which were forced to fly in a narrowly defined air corridor. During a record cold winter. After a year and a half and against all odds, flying in 23 million tons of critically needed supplies, the Berlin Airlift succeeded, and Stalin was forced to lift his blockade.
Halvorsen noticed a need, and found a way to meet it with his Operation Little Vittles. Here is a recent headline and a story showing us that the spirit of the Candy Bomber lives on, once again in responsse to Russian aggression.
“Packed plane in beloved Candy Bomber Gail S. Halvorsen’s name sends supplies to Ukraine.
“Thousands of pounds of supplies like diapers, baby wipes and school supplies — together with candy and handwritten notes — recently landed in Berlin, Germany, and from there went to Ukraine in an effort named Operation Little Vittles Two.
“Volunteers drew on the example and legacy of Colonel Halvorsen, a U.S. Air Force pilot affectionately known as the Candy Bomber for his efforts during the Berlin Airlift after World War II.
“Halvorsen’s daughter, Marilyn Sorensen, helped send off the plane from Utah, while people who had been children during the original Berlin candy drops greeted the plane and unloaded the supplies at Tempelhof in Germany, bringing it full circle.
“Linnea Weller, event director with the Halvorsen Foundation, watched the idea blossom and grow into a huge effort: ‘People hunger and thirst for the goodness in life that comes from doing and serving.’
“Candy and school supplies, that might not seem a lot to us, and it may seem trite compared to the needs of the families, but it goes a long way. It shows these families someone is thinking of you, hang in there, don’t give up,’ she said.
“That was Col. Halvorsen’s legacy — out of small things, great things happened,” said Weller.
We can all–and should–do the same in our lives. The Candy Bomber’s first encounter with the children came when he noticed a group of them standing behind the wire fence blocking entry to Tempelhof Airfield. When he approached them, he was disheartened to find that he had only two sticks of gum in his pocket; breaking each of them in two, he handed out four half sticks. The kids who got gum, handed the empty wrappers to other kids, who sniffed and licked the wrappers to get as much flavor as they could. “They came right up to me, speaking in English. Those kids were giving me a lecture, telling me, ‘Don’t give up on us. If we lose our freedom, we’ll never get it back.’ American style freedom was their dream.” The Berlin airlift gave them their freedom. And this was the start of Operation “Little Vittles”, the goodwill mission that Halvorsen conceived on the spot that gave them joy. Operation Vittles was the whimsical name given to the massive airlift itself. It is estimated that Operation Little Vittles was responsible for dropping over 21 tons of candy from over 250,000 handmade handkerchief parachutes.
What can we do? Berlin does not need our help. Ukraine does, but we are not there. Yet we can take effective action, we can be Candy Bombers without the need for a pilot’s license and 42,000 pounds of candy. All we need to do is change our mindset. Look to distribute verbal candy, instead of verbal bombs. Look to encourage, not criticize. Look to love, not to be right.
Some specific examples include not taking one’s self so seriously over issues like masks–regardless of whether we are pro or con. There is nothing wimpy or subservient about someone wearing a mask when it is not mandated.
Perhaps they have something mildly infections and wish to protect others. Or perhaps it is a political fashion statement. So what?
People. Strangers. Try not to let them stay strangers. We are all on this planet in the vastness of space together. Making eye contact, asking someone how they are doing, sincerely, and waiting for an answer, is candy. Caring about, and responding to their answer, is even more candy.
Washing the dishes without asking for credit is candy. Doing much of anything without asking for credit is candy. Allowing others to take credit is also candy. Loving without making it a trade is candy–in a big box. Serving others without expecting anything in return is the whole candy store.
And like Gail Halvorsen, we don’t have to quit our day jobs in order to be Candy Bombers. Use the comments to give the followers of Take Ten With Will Luden™ your ideas about how we can all be candy bombers. What are your thoughts? Be specific. I care. We all care. You are candy to us.
Epilogue. Retired Air Force Colonel Halvorsen died in February of 2022, at the age of 101. His legacy as a good man, father and husband, military leader and the Candy Bomber lives on. And he can, and would want to, live on in us.
“That was Col. Halvorsen’s legacy — out of small things, great things happened.”
We all have the personal responsibility to be our own version of a Gail Halvorsen candy bomber. Speaking of personal responsibility, this principle does not stand alone; the two main and interdependent principles at Take Ten With Will Luden™ are:
1. Personal Responsibility; take it, teach it and,
2. Be Your Brother’s Keeper. The answer to the biblical question, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” is a ringing, unequivocal “Yes.” There is no other answer.
Where do you stand? What are you going to do? Remember, it does not matter where you stand if you don’t do anything. You can start by subscribing to these episodes, and encouraging others to subscribe with you.
As always, whatever you do, do it in love. Without love, anything we do is empty. 1 Corinthians 16:1.
As we get ready to wrap up, please do respond in the episodes with comments or questions about this episode or anything that comes to mind, or connect with me on Twitter, @willluden, Facebook, facebook.com/will.luden, and LinkedIn, www.linkedin.com/in/willluden/. And you can subscribe on your favorite device through Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify and wherever you listen to podcasts.
This is Will Luden. We’ll talk again soon.