Glenn spoke with a living legend named Gail Halvorsen on TV last night, the original “Candy Bomber” from World War II. During the Berlin Airlift he began attaching little parachutes to chocolate candies and dropped them for German children to eat. He never could’ve imagined the everlasting impact this one small act would do.
While in Berlin for the Berlin Airlift, Halverson came across a group of children along the fence outside the airport. He was used to kids in Europe begging for candy when seeing American soldiers, but these didn't.
"It was against the rules to drop stuff out of airplanes, and I got along well because I followed by all the rules," Halverson said.
"When I did it, I hoped nobody found out about it. I met those kids at the fence, as you saw, and when they didn’t beg for any chocolate, and they didn’t have any for two years — kids around the world where I flew before would run you down in the street in this uniform, 1945 uniform, and grab your arm. After an hour when they didn’t beg and I turned to leave to catch my Jeep, I realize that, and I felt my pocket, and I said I’ve got to give them something. And I had the two sticks of gum," Halvorsen
He broke the gum in his pocket into four pieces and pushed it through the fence. Their faced lit up with joy.
"I said I’ve just got to give those kids more. And I didn’t want anybody to find out about it because I didn’t have permission," he explained.
"So Gail, when you’ve looked at this now for the last several decades, and you’re thinking about this, you’ve had to have reflected on this. What is it about the candy drop, what you and your fellow copilots and everybody else got involved eventually? What is it that you think…why has this lasted? Why has this become so legendary? What is it about this," Glenn asked.
"Well, I think it comes back to enemies becoming friends and how does that happen. Jesus Christ said greater love than this have no man than he lay down his life for a friend. Thirty-one of my Air Force buddies and 39 of my British comrades gave their lives, not for a friend, but for an enemy who became a friend. So the bottom line I think it is, it just exemplifies the durability of the truth that the only way to real happiness in life is not a bigger car than the neighbor or a bigger house but getting outside yourself and serving someone else. Serving others is the only solution to happiness," Halverson said.
"And the idea that…it was those kids, not me. Scrooge had been standing at the fence, and the kids had done the same thing. So the children of today are the leaders of tomorrow, and the metamorphosis from killing each other just a little while before to flying day and night is the thing that changed everything around."
"I came back, I lived in a barn, up in the attic of a barn. There wasn’t room in the inn at first. One of my buddies bombed Berlin during the war not long before, and here they were just getting back to the states, meeting the family so the kids didn’t say who’s that stranger coming through the door, and they asked they go back to Germany. And my buddy bombed them. He got shot up."
"One member was almost dead when he got him back to England, and I looked at him in the eyes, and I said, 'Friend, how do you feel leaving your family again and feeding the guys that tried to kill you?' And he took a moment, he looked at me, and he said, 'Hal, it’s a whole lot better to feed them than it is to kill them. I’m glad to be back.' That’s the healing balm on the wounds of war, the service."
Watch Part 1 of the interview below:
Watch Part 2 of the interview below: