Berlin mourns ‘candy bomber’, a US pilot who is a hero of children during the airlift

Disappeared at the age of 101, Gail Halvorsen was throwing candy with small parachutes. She was the symbol of reconciliation between the United States and Germany

Berlin mourns Gail Halvorsen, the American ‘candy bomber’ who, during the 1948 airlift, threw candy to children from his aircraft. The town hall of the German capital has opened a register of condolences, already signed by the mayor Franziska Giffey. He passed away on February 16 at the age of 101, Halvorsen was fondly remembered in Berlin and many had sent him messages of good wishes in Utah, where he lived, when a year ago he became ill and then recovered from covid.

“Candy bomber” became famous during the difficult months of the airlift (June 1948-May 1949), when Soviet troops blocked all land access to the two million inhabitants of the western part of Berlin. The Americans and the British secured supplies with 280,000 airborne deliveries of food and other essential goods. Halvorsen, who was then a young pilot, was troubled by the children waiting for him behind the barbed wire at the entrance to Tempelhof airport to ask him for candy. He thus began to throw candies and chocolate from his plane, thanks to small parachutes packed with handkerchiefs. Becoming known as the Candy Bomber he was soon imitated by other pilots and his gesture became a symbol of reconciliation between the United States and Germany.