The 22nd Day of September

Gail Halvorsen starts parachuting candy to children 1948

Colonel Gail Seymour “Hal” Halvorsen (born October 10, 1920) is a retired officer and command pilot in the United States Air Force. He is best known as the “Berlin Candy Bomber” or “Uncle Wiggly Wings” and gained fame for dropping candy to German children during the Berlin Airlift from 1948 to 1949.

One day in July, he was filming plane take offs and landings at Tempelhof,  he saw about thirty children lined up behind one of the barbed-wire fences. He went to meet them and noticed that the children had nothing. Halvorsen reached into his pocket and took out two sticks of gum to give to the children. The kids broke them into little pieces and shared them; the ones who did not get any sniffed the wrappers.

Gail Halvorsen starts parachuting candy to children 1948

Halvorsen regretted not having more to give them. Halvorsen recorded that he wanted to do more for the children, and so told them that the following day he would have enough gum for all of them, and he would drop it out of his plane. According to Halvorsen, one child asked “How will we know it is your plane?” to which Halvorsen responded that he would wiggle his wings.

Halvorsen piloted C-47s and C-54s during the Berlin airlift. During that time with no authorization from his superiors he founded “Operation Little Vittles”, an effort to raise morale in Berlin by dropping candy via miniature parachute to the city’s residents. Halvorsen’s operation dropped over 23 tons of candy to the residents of Berlin.

When word reached the airlift commander, Lieutenant General William H. Tunner, he ordered it expanded into Operation “Little Vittles”, named as a play on the airlift’s name of Operation Vittles.[18] Operation Little Vittles began officially on September 22, 1948.

Over the next 25 years, Halvorsen advocated for and performed candy drops in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Albania, Japan, Guam, and Iraq.

Extra Note: Halvorsen has received numerous awards for his role in “Operation Little Vittles”, including the Congressional Gold Medal.

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