My thoughts are still on Berlin. So it may come as no surprise to you why I was devastated to find out this morning that U.S. Army Air Corps Col. (Ret.) Gail Halvorsen returned to Frankfurt… 7 days ago.
Any hope of meeting this amazing hero was non-existent because no one had notified the American military forces in the area. At least not publicly.
If you are not sure who he is or why he is important I would understand. My earliest recollection was a byline in high school! However we have a great library staff that constantly brings interesting subjects forward. Which is why earlier this year around Memorial Day I picked up the Candy Bomber: The Story of the Berlin Airlift’s “Chocolate Pilot” and immediately shared it with my family and friends.
Michael O. Tunnell did a great job of interviewing “Uncle Wiggly Wings” in his book and with sharing the story of the lives he touched in 120 pages. If I were to keep only one book on the subject it would be this book, written for children but a touching memento that should be in every home.
Let me go a step further. There is no doubt in mind that if you have lived or visited the Wiesbaden/Frankfurt area, you should read this book!
Wiesbaden was not only a part of the strategic effort of the Berlin Airlift but Lucius D. Clay Kaserne, who the military base in Wiesbaden is named for, gave the order to launch Operation Vittles and maintained the Berlin Airlift for 324 days.
I suppose what breaks my heart about not getting to meet this living legend is that there is no museum, on-post or somewhere else in town. Of all the cultural activities endorsed and encourage by our garrison, no mention or annual celebration of the events that took place here are brought to light. At least none that I aware of.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m grateful that someone thought to honor Halvorsen, but I feel it was a missed opportunity for our children and the community at large.
What’s done is done and there maybe a chance to rectify this failing in regards to future visits. In the meantime I strongly recommend reading more on the events that took place here.
Here are my recommendations;
The Berlin Candy Bomber by Gail Halvorsen
Candy Bomber: The Story of the Berlin Airlift’s “Chocolate Pilot” by Michael O. Tunnell, a juvenile book with suggestions for further reading.
- The Candy Bombers: The Untold Story of the Berlin Airlift and America’s Finest Hour by Andrei Cherny
You might also enjoy this PBS documentary;
I know that Gail Halvorsen was not the only pilot in the airlift. Please expand our knowledge of these events by commenting with your favorite resources.