The Candy Bomber visits SaJHS

Sydney Ward

“I’m really glad to be here,” Gail Halvorsen, the famous candy bomber of the Berlin Airlift, told Salem Jr. High students at a surprise assembly on Wednesday. “At 95, I’m glad to be anywhere!” he said.

Colonel Gail Halvorsen spoke to students on making a difference in the world, gratitude, and his personal experiences during the Berlin Airlift in 1948 and 1949. “Look into yourselves and develop those wonderful skills,” Halvorsen said. “Each of you has special skills. Don’t say: I want to be like somebody else - look to yourself. Build on your strengths and you’ll have a happy life.” The bottom line, for anything you do, Halvorsen explained to students, is to “Be grateful for things in your life, your parents, your teachers…, and those you interact with.” Halvorsen told the story of a little girl from Berlin who gave him her teddy bear, the girl’s prized possession, as a thank you for all the sacrifice to bring the citizens of Berlin freedom. “Those were the kind of things people did,” Halvorsen says. They were truly grateful.

Colonel Halvorsen told the story of the Candy Bombing, said to be the event that stopped World War Three. One day while taking pictures around the city, Halvorsen noticed some kids standing at the barbed wire fence around the air base in Berlin. He talked to them and had an impression to give what he had to them. Two little sticks of chewing gum was all he had, but the poor children thought it was heaven. Even the ones who didn’t get any gum, “politely asked the children that had a piece if they could have some of the wrapper.” And they put it up to their nose and just smelled. Colonel Halvorsen had an idea, drop candy from his airplane down to the children on the ground. This turned into a full scale operation, and by the end of the airlift, 23 tons of candy had been dropped to the citizens of Berlin. For his efforts and kindness, Colonel Halvorsen is an American War Hero and a recipient of the Congressional Gold Medal.