Berlin Airlift Candy Bomber has baseball field named in his honor.

Staff Sgt. Joe W. McFadden/DVIDS

Baseball field named for American 'Berlin Candy Bomber' pilot

May 13, 2019 - 3:28 pm

By Ben Krimmel

The man who is known as the "Berlin Candy Bomber" now has a baseball field in the German city named in his honor. 

U.S. pilot Gail Halvorsen, who dropped hundreds of boxes of chocolate treats and gum on small parachutes into West Berlin during the Soviet blockade, was honored Saturday in Berlin, Germany. To show their appreciation for his service to 2.5 million Berliners during the Cold War, a baseball field at Tempelhof airport was named the "Gail S. Halvorsen Park - Home of the Berlin Braves," the Associated Press reported.

"It's good to be home," Halvorsen told Berlin's mayor Michael Mueller.

"I am honored with how much love and enthusiasm I will receive in Berlin. That's an incredibly nice and warm feeling," he told the German newspaper B.Z. 

Halvorsen, now 98, served as a transport pilot during the Second World War and became famous around the world for dropping thousands of pounds of candy during 126 missions flying a C-54 Skymaster between Rhein-Main Air Base in West Germany to Tempelhof Air Field in Berlin.

Beginning in June 1948, the airlift was a massive undertaking by the U.S. to provide food and supplies to West Berlin after the Soviet Union blockaded the city in an attempt to keep the Western Allies out of the international enclave deep within Soviet-controlled East Germany.

After an early mission to Berlin, Halvorsen came up with the idea to drop something to children who spent time outside the airfield. He combined his candy ration with that of his co-pilot and engineer and using parachutes made from handkerchiefs and string, dropped out chocolate and gum to the children below.

Because of his heroics during what became known as “Operation Little Vittles,” children soon began to call Halvorsen “Der Schokoladen-flieger” or “Chocolate Pilot” or the “Berlin Candy Bomber.” 

“You know, the kids then didn’t have much chocolate—very little or none,” Halvorsen said in 2016. “Chocolate is a magic word. And we dropped every kind of candy they made, but Hershey’s chocolate bars were the most favorite of all.”

Halvorsen said his candy drops weren't a hit right away. "At first I got some trouble from my supervisor," he told B.Z. "He was indignant, asked me what I would do there. I should just drop the food and not throw small sweets out of the window. But he did not expressly forbid me. And I've continued with it."

And so he and his fellow pilots continued to donate their candy rations before the American Confectioners Association donated 18 tons of candy. By the end of the Berlin Airlift the pilots had dropped 250,00 parachutes and 23 tons of Candy.

“We were working to feed the two-and-a-half million people of Berlin and to keep them free," Halvorsen said in 2018. "But it was the children who taught me the purpose of the airlift."
Halvorsen told the Daily Herald of Provo his experience during the airlift was one of the most satisfying of his life.

A native of Salt Lake City, Utah, he joined the Civil Air Patrol and later the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1942, flying transport operations in the South Atlantic Theater during World War II. Halvorsen retired from the Air Force in 1974 with the rank of colonel. 

"When people come up to me and tell me, 'I got one of your parachutes.' It’s such a little thing that meant so much to them and they want me to tell them about it," he said in 2015.

In total, American pilots flew over 278,000 flights during the airlift, delivering more than two million tons of food and supplies between June 1948 and May 1949.

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