World War II was one of death and destruction but there were moments when humanity ruled supreme. That's why 98-year-old Gail Halvorsen, a former US Air Force pilot, is today a guest of honor in Berlin. He was engaged in a task that brought a ray of sunshine in the lives of the hungry children in West Berlin. They had nothing to eat because the Soviet Union had blocked all communication links to the city and the food supply system had broken down.

Daily Mail UK reports Halvorsen came up with the idea of airdropping small bags of sweets to the children down below. It was a novel idea and this humanitarian work earned for him the nickname of the 'candy bomber.' When he arrived in Berlin, the city accorded him a hero's welcome.

He wore his military uniform, interacted with the people, signed autographs, and posed for photos.

The Candy Bomber

The blockade by the Soviet Union went on from June 1948 until May 1949 and was “the first crisis in the Cold War.” Western allies, including the US, intervened and launched the Berlin Airlift. Its purpose was to fly food and other essential supplies to the millions of people in the city. On a rough estimate, the amount of supplies added up to more than two million tonnes.

It also involved nearly 277,000 flights.

Daily Mail UK goes on to add that Gail Halvorsen took the initiative to drop bundles of chocolate tied with handkerchief parachutes to the children who were waiting below.

In order to let the kids know that he had arrived with the goodies, the Air Force commander would signal by dipping the wings of his plane. One elderly woman, who was a child at the time, remembered the special deliveries. She admitted to a section of the media about some letters she exchanged with Halvorsen.

She had grown up fatherless and he was like a father to her. The two of them went on to have a long-lasting friendship. The horrors of WWII surface even today like the unexploded bomb discovered in the city of Hanover.

The Berlin Airlift

According to France 24, the 98-year-old ex-pilot Gail Halvorsen of the USAF was at Berlin's former Tempelhof airport to participate in the festivities to commemorate the operation by the western Allies in 1948-49. Sunday marks the 70th anniversary of the end of the 15-month Soviet blockade.

Gail Halvorsen, aka "Candy Bomber," used to airdrop candies for the hungry children. They did not have regular food supplies because of the blockade and the Berlin Airlift (officially known as 'Operation Vittles') tried to mitigate their sufferings.

It was a mammoth logistical operation to airdrop supplies into West Berlin and Halvorsen insists that the real heroes “were not the pilots, the heroes were the Germans -- the parents and children on the ground." The supplies came into Tempelhof airport, which no longer exists. It was converted into a public park in 2008.

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