Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

Teacher Activity
Berlin Airlift Pilots Launched Candy Mission

Berlin Airlift pilots enjoyed their mission of flying into Germany to deliver food and supplies to the German people. It was a wonderful feeling to be delivering food and help, rather than delivering bombs.

During one mission, pilot Lieutenant Gale S. Halverson decided to tour around the area of Germany where he landed each week. During his tour, he met lots of children who came out to watch him take pictures of the sites. Unlike most children, they did not beg money or candy from him, but just stood and watched. In a flash, an idea came to him. "You kids wait until tomorrow and I will drop you some candy from my airplane."

The next day, Halverson kept his promise and dropped three small handkerchief parachutes of candy from the plane. He used the flare chute in the bottom of the plane. From that first idea grew a daily effort to drop candy from the sky to the German children.

The excited children wrote their thanks and began calling Lieutenant Halverson, "Uncle Sam" or "Captain America."

In the beginning of the candy drops, Halverson used his own weekly candy ration. Soon the other pilots and support staff started giving their candy and gum and their handkerchiefs. The project grew so big that his old army base also began to contribute candy and handkerchiefs. The city of Mobile, Alabama, formed a drive to request help. Soon, candy and handkerchiefs from around the country began arriving for the pilots to drop. One week, Lieutenant Halverson flew 368 pounds of candy and fifty pounds of handkerchiefs from America back with him in his C-54 airplane that he had brought to the states for maintenance work.

At the time Lieutenant Halverson started this candy drop mission, he was 27 years old. That was in 1948. Today, he would be in his late seventies. Perhaps a class project would be to research to see if they could find out what happened to him and if he is still living. He was at one time stationed with the 521st Air Transport Group, Brookley Air Force Base, Mobile, Alabama. Col. George S. Cassady was his commanding officer. Just think what terrific stories he could tell! Berlin Airlift Pilots Drop Candy, Gum for the Children in Germany!