Nehézségi fok: KÖZEPES
Has anyone heard of the Berlin Candy Bomber?
With the Nazi surrender in 1945, the Allies divided defeated Germany. The French, British, and Americans took the western half of the nation, while the Russians occupied Germany’s eastern half. Berlin itself was divided into sectors between the allies but was entirely surrounded by the Soviet-controlled sector of Germany. A little more than three years after World War II ended, Russian forces blockaded the Allied-controlled areas of Berlin on June 24, 1948, shutting off access to food, coal and medicine to two million German citizens. Berlin became the first front line of The Cold War, and the nine-month-old U.S. Air Force was charged with keeping Berliners alive while keeping the Cold War from turning hot.
The Berlin airlift began. The actual name was “Operation Vittles.”
One day in July of 1948 Halvorsen – an American commander pilot – saw a group of thirty children behind the barbed wire fence watching the comings and goings of the Allied transports, so he walked over to them. They told him the aircrews shouldn’t risk their lives when the weather was bad – they could get by on less until the weather cleared. “Just don’t give up on us” was all they asked. He talked with them as they asked many questions in their broken English and before he knew it, an hour had passed, and he had to leave. As he walked away, he stopped and looked back at them. It had occurred to him that in all that time, they hadn’t once asked for any candy. They had in fact listened attentively and respectfully, expressing gratitude for the flour and food the Americans, British and French were flying in at great risk to themselves. They were unlike any of the boisterous crowds of kids the Americans were used to who tugged at their sleeves and clamoured for chocolate.
He dug in his pockets, but could only find two sticks of Wrigley’s gum which he tore in half. He walked back and passed the four pieces through the fence. The lucky kids carefully unwrapped their prizes and handed the wrappers to the others who gratefully sniffed the foil. There was no pushing or grabbing. It had a profound impact on Halvorsen.
He promised he would drop enough gum for everyone the next day. When they asked how they would know it was him, he said he would wiggle his wings. “Was ist wiggle?” they asked, and he explained.
That night, he put together three bags of candy bars and gum using his candy ration and his co-pilot and engineer rations. He was surprised by how heavy they were. Dropping them at a hundred miles an hour on the children would not have the desired effect, so he fashioned parachutes out of handkerchiefs.
As he flew into the airport the next day, he saw the kids standing behind the wire, attentively watching the planes come in. He wiggled his wings and immediately, the small crowd of children threw up their arms and jumped up and down. The bundles of candy were shoved out the flare chute behind the pilot seat, and Halvorsen hoped they reached their target. The plane landed, unloaded its cargo, and was ready to take off again thirty minutes later. As he taxied down the runway, he finally saw the children waving their arms, their mouths open with unheard cries of joy. Three of them waved three parachutes.
Halvorsen and his crew repeated this once a week for the next three weeks, parachuting three bags each time. One day, while his plane was being unloaded, he entered the base operations office and found the planning table loaded with letters, returned parachutes and artwork addressed to Onkel Wackelflugel (“Uncle Wiggly Wings”). He knew he was in a world of trouble. They stopped the drops for two weeks, but the crowd of kids kept growing, so they decided to do one more drop of six bundles, and that was it.
Except it wasn’t. His colonel showed him a big newspaper article with a picture clearly showing his plane’s tail number and demanded to know what was going on. Halvorsen told him and awaited his fate, which clearly could include a court-martial. When General Tunner, who was in charge of the Berlin Airlift now nicknamed Operation Vittles, heard the story, he recognized the propaganda potential and simply said: “Keep it up”. Operation Little Vittles was born.
Halvorsen’s nickname resulted from the fact that he would rock the plane to let the children know which plane would be dropping candy.
CANDY BOMBER CUKOR BOMBÁZÓ
AIR FORCE LÉGIERŐ
COMMANDER PILOT PARANCSNOK PILÓTA
BARBED WIRE FENCE SZÖGESDRÓT KERÍTÉS
PROFOUND IMPACT MÉLY HATÁS
WIGGLE HIS WINGS BILLEGTETI A SZÁRNYÁT
FASHIONED PARACHUTES EJTŐERNYŐKET KÉSZÍTETT
FLARE CHUTE JELZŐFÁKLYA KIDOBÓNYÍLÁS
TAIL NUMBER FAROKSZÁM