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The Candy Bomber

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb
The Truth Network Radio
December 21, 2022 3:03 am

The Candy Bomber

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb

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December 21, 2022 3:03 am

On this episode of Our American Stories, this is the story of Gail Halvorsen, a young pilot in the US Army Air Corps who was assigned as a cargo pilot to the Berlin Airlift, in which US forces flew much-needed supplies into a war-torn Soviet-blockaded Berlin following WWII. As he performed his duties, Lt. Halvorsen began to notice the German children gathered by the fences of Tempelhof Air Base. Knowing that they had very little, an idea sprang: He would bomb Berlin with candy.

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This clip is brought to you by Coca-Cola. The holidays always find a way. It's about enjoying the real magic of the season by surrounding yourself with good friends and family, delicious food, and, of course, an ice cold Coke. This is our very first episode as Locatora Radio for the MyCultura network.

We're beyond thrilled. We're in a legitimate studio space and we have not seen the inside of one of these in many years. Coca-Cola, proud partner of the MyCultura podcast network.

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Call or go to StateFarm.com for a quote today. You guys used to post Instagram photos of you guys hanging out together in Japan, with a Guinness in one hand and some tempura in the other. And I was like, this guy is loving life. I didn't know you guys were that tight, though, until I saw you come together again on RAW.

And I was like, yo, they're they're for real friends. The story of Gail Halverson, a young pilot in the US Army Air Corps, who was assigned as a cargo pilot at the Berlin Airlift, in which US forces flew much needed supplies into a war-torn, Soviet-blockaded Berlin following World War II. Gail grew up on a farm in Utah and joined the Army Air Corps in June of 1942. Here's Colonel Halverson with the story, beginning with the three reasons why he and his fellow servicemen saw the Berlin Airlift as necessary.

I stayed in the Air Force, the Army Air Corps at the time, after the war, and wanted to keep flying. And we were briefed in our pilot meetings all the time, every month, about the world situation after the war. And we knew from these briefings, the new enemy was Stalin and communism. He'd just taken Czechoslovakia, had the popular democratic leader assassinated, taken Hungary, and we knew he was headed west. The second factor was, we knew that most of the 2.5 million people in Berlin, in West Berlin, were women and children. Very few men.

And to starve them, take fresh milk or food from babies and from women and children, that's a mitigating factor on how we felt about what we were doing. The third one was when I landed my first trip into Berlin with 20,000 pounds of flour and opened that, had that back door, crew chief went back, opened the door, in came these Germans. About six of them to unload and about six in the semi-trip. I wondered how these supermen are going to look. And they had mixed uniforms, part uniform, part civilian clothes, doctors, or Weimar privates all together for one purpose. They needed freedom, they needed flour, we had both. And when I got out of the cockpit and walked back, and that lead man came right up, put his hand in mine, and gripped it, and looked me in the eye, and his eyes were moist, and looked down at the flour-like angels from heaven, and we were on the same page.

So there were three factors. So I got to go to Berlin and see it on the ground. I had a friend in Berlin who said, if you get here, I've got a Jeep for you and a driver, he'll take you over and you'll see everything.

And so one day I came back, and it was about the 17th of July, came back and landed at Rheinmein about noon. It was a beautiful day, sunshine, I was supposed to go to bed and fly that night. I had my movie camera in my hand, and Bill Christian, a buddy from Mobile, Alabama, was in an airplane in the next hard stand with a load of dried potatoes ready to go to Berlin, just getting ready to start the engines.

I said, holy cow, what an opportunity. Beautiful day, Bill's going, I'll just jump on the airplane with him, I'm not going to bed, I've got a Jeep waiting for me in Berlin, I get off the flight line, I'll go over the sea and get these great movies. And so I told John Pickering, my copilot, go to bed John, you and Elkins get to bed, I'm going to Berlin.

He said, you're crazy. I said, I know it, but I'm going to Berlin. If this thing stops tomorrow, they're going to send us all home. They're not going to let everybody go sightseeing to Berlin. And I want to see Berlin, I want to see Hitler's bunker, I want to see the Reichstag up close. I love history. And here I was, right in the middle of it, I said, I want to, it's going to be where I'm going to Berlin. I'll see it before I go back.

All you need is a uniform, airplanes come back, no reservations required. So I jumped on the airplane, went back, we called in and the Jeep was waiting. But before I went around town, I wanted to get on the end of the runway and take pictures of the airplanes coming over the buildings before we had to come between the buildings. And that's how dumb I was.

I thought it was going to be over that quick. But I was there to get movies if I ever had any kids to show them the approach. And so I went around there and started shooting movies. The airplanes coming over, barbed wire fence in front of me, bombed out buildings a couple hundred yards over. And then suddenly, here were the kids. See the color of their eyes, they're right up against me, looking at this uniform that was borrowing them three years before. Maybe killed their dad and mom, who knows.

And I didn't know how to get, I looked down and all of a sudden these 30 kids, about roughly 30, standing right on the other side of the bar bar from me, looking at me. And they were friendly. And I thought, why would they be friendly?

You know, here's that uniform right here. And it wasn't the first time they'd seen a uniform up close in the military, Russian I, which is terror, and the occupation guys later. Then I found out later why they were so friendly. Because their aunts and uncles were arbitrarily cut off with the border, not cut off because you'd walk across the border then. But they could walk across the border, their aunts, uncles, and whoever, close family type, come over to West Berlin to use the library to see what's going on in the world. They lost their freedom. They lost freedom of the press, freedom of expression, freedom of travel, freedom of religion, freedom of electing who they wanted to be their ruler.

They lost that. So they were over there. And they were telling their aunts and uncles, man, I can't travel.

I can't do this, I can't do that. And they knew, they knew then what common is like. They had missionaries from the communists, not for this program, but negative missionaries, saying, hey, this is not very cool, buddy.

You know what I can do with these guys. So they were friendly. And you're listening to Colonel Gail Halverson tell the story of why the Berlin Airlift was necessary. The people of Germany knew who we were.

We were on their side and on the side of freedom. When we come back, more of this remarkable story, not told enough in America's classrooms, the story of the Cold War, the story of the Berlin Airlift, here on Our American Stories. Lee Habib here, the host of Our American Stories. Every day on this show, we're bringing inspiring stories from across this great country, stories from our big cities and small towns.

But we truly can't do this show without you. Our stories are free to listen to, but they're not free to make. If you love what you hear, go to OurAmericanStories.com and click the donate button. Give a little, give a lot.

Go to OurAmericanStories.com and give. This clip is brought to you by Coca-Cola. The holidays always find a way, whether you're making mom's famous recipes or getting your kids all dolled up to spend time with their loved ones. It's about enjoying the real magic of the season by surrounding yourself with good friends and family, delicious food and, of course, an ice cold Coke. So we're really happy and proud that my cultura saw something in us, saw the value in the community that we've built because of y'all and decided to bring us on. And so we're super excited about that. But I think also, like, I'm very firmly rooted in keeping this as an audio archive and that Locatorre is going to continue to highlight community voices and folks that don't always get the airtime or media attention that they should. Coca-Cola, proud partner of the My Cultura podcast network.

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There's a better way to fly private. And we continue with our American stories and the story of Colonel Halvorson and in the end, the story of the Berlin Airlift. And why it was so necessary and in the end, so remarkable and emblematic of the people, the country that made it happen. American-style freedom was their dream and Hitler's past and Stalin's future was their nightmare. They knew, those kids, 8 to 14, they were giving me a lesson about freedom. Look, they said, it's pretty good here in July, you know, the weather's not too bad to get some storms.

But you wait. They had school English. Some of them spoke pretty good English.

I couldn't speak any German. They said, come the winter and the fall, you can't get in here. It's going to be bad.

Kids give me a lecture. But when that happens, don't worry about us. We don't have to have enough to eat. Just don't give up on us. Someday we'll have enough to eat. But if we lose our freedom, we'll never get it back. American-style freedom was their dream.

And they knew about the other systems. Those kids were incredible. I just said, holy cow. And I got so interested in listening to them, I looked at them and suddenly I said, I've been there over an hour. And I said, boy, the jeep might not be waiting. I've got to get out of here. So I started to run. I said, see you later, kids.

And got about five steps. And the kids, I stopped and I said, boy, these are incredible kids. I said, well, they got a postgraduate degree in international relations. They know what's important. They got their heads screwed on.

They really know what's important. And I started to walk. And that little voice just came back again. I don't know how it overcame to get to the jeep.

You're late. But it did. It intrigued me. And then I knew in a flash why. Because during the war and after the war, I walked down the street in a foreign country where the kids had some chocolate.

Not much, but had some. And those kids would chase you going down the street, intercept you, and surround you begging for chocolate and gum. And of course, the military, since the Continental Army was Washington, going through a town to give kids stuff from the Russians. They had a little piece of chocolate or a heart attack or something. They'd give it to the kids.

That's nothing new. And then I thought, they haven't had any chocolate for months. They haven't had gum.

They already knew what gum was anyway. But no chocolate for months and not one of those kids would lower themselves to be a beggar for something as extravagant as chocolate when they had flour to be free. When they wouldn't ask for more than freedom, lower themselves to beg for something more. It blew my mind. When somebody gives you a million dollars, you don't ask for four bucks more, do you? You wouldn't ask for that. Well, they didn't ask for that cream on the top because they were so thankful for what freedom meant to them.

When I realized that, I just said, holy cow, I can't believe it. Not one child put out their hand. Not one by voice inflection indicated you got some chocolate or something. Not one. So I reached in my pocket and just had two sticks of gum.

Holy cow, two sticks of gum? You're going to have fights. You're going to have bloody noses.

Get out of here. And I said, well, I'll never see these kids again. I'll be flying 24 hours without sleep.

I'll be sleeping when the autopilot's flying, coming to go on the copilot, probably. But I can't come to the fence anymore. I'll never see these kids again. How could I possibly give them something? I said, well, give it to them.

It's all you got. Broke it in half, four pieces through the bar bar. The kids, they were translating. I gave them half a stick. They did most of it. And boy, they looked like they got a hundred dollar bill. Boy, they got a hold of that. And then here came the rest of the kids.

No fight. They just wanted a piece of the wrapper. And the kids with a half a stick of gum tore off the outer wrapper and the tinfoil and handed it to the kids that didn't get anything at all. And the kids, they got a piece of paper, put it up their nose and smelled it and smelled it. A piece of paper.

I stood there, just flat, dumb, couldn't believe what I'd seen. Holy cow. For 30 cents, I could buy them 30 sticks of gum and they could have the wrapper and everything. But how do I deliver it?

I can't come out here. Could I get some German to deliver it? Who knows what kids would get it or if he'd even deliver it.

About that time, an airplane flew over my head and landed right on the runway behind me. And I got the idea. I'm coming in tomorrow. I can deliver it to these kids. I can put it in that open place and I'll get enough for everybody. And boy, then the red light came on. You got to have permission for that.

You can't drop stuff out of airplanes unless you get the clearance. And then I rationalized. And that's how you get in trouble. That's the first step getting off the path.

And so I thought, well, starving two million people, not according to oil anyway, what's a few sticks of gum? And so I found myself almost horrified, saying, kids, you come back tomorrow, stand in this open place. When I come in to land, I'll drop enough out of the airplane two years before I land if you'll share it.

Oh, you'll vold, you'll vold. We'll share it, they said. You bet.

Bouncing up and down. And I started leaving. They called me back.

I said, what's the matter? You got to know what airplane you're in. Every five minutes there's an airplane coming by here. Well, I didn't know what airplane, because the airplanes from Alaska had red noses and red tails. They crashed in the snow.

They could find them. And the airplanes from Hawaii had coconut palms and stuff on them. Everybody had a different signal. And I flew whatever airplane was loaded. I don't know what airplane I fought. I'm just sure it was a four engine. There were a lot of two engines. C-47 is still flying.

It's a four engine. They said, not enough. We got to know. Then I told them to wiggle the wings. When I come over to the beacon at first, before I go over to East Berlin to come around to land, I'll wiggle the wings. Boy, they said, let's get out of here.

Let's start this thing. So I went all over town and got the movies you've seen and every documentary that every major producer has put out has got my film in it. I took around the city and off the airlift as it went on.

And I took those pictures, went back to several hours before I had to start flying that night. Went to the basic change, opened 24 hours a day, bought all I could on my weekly ration. And I didn't have enough, so I went to my crew and I said, I've got to have your ration.

They gave me theirs. I had a big double handful of chocolate bars, Hershey bars, Babe Ruth, Bounce, and double mint gum. And broke it up in three pieces, put three parachutes on it, anxious parachutes. And the next day flew that night, of course, and the next day before noon, the weather was good. Looked down there and those kids were right in the open place between the Bonneville buildings and the Bar Bar fences. They hadn't told anybody else.

It was a small group. Wiggled the wings and they went crazy. Still see their arms as they came over the Bonneville building. Right behind the pilot seat is a flare chute where emergency flares are pushed out in case you have emergency in flight. And it's easy for the crew chief standing between the pilots to just access that. So as they came over, they had just told them, push it out, and he pushed it out. Unloaded 20,000 pounds of flour, the Germans did, and worried that somebody had seen the airplane. The parachutes would get me in trouble and lined up to take off. Or they pulled the parachutes over the Bar Bar where they couldn't get them under the field. When they taxied out, there's three Hanks just waving through it, all the airplanes. Their mouths were going up and down. We waved and I said, I wish they wouldn't do that, waving all the airplanes. Well, that's how it started. And you're listening to Colonel Gail Halverson tell the story of how the Berlin Airlift came to be.

Two million people trapped without any means of really supporting themselves. We had bombed many parts of Germany to bits and leave it to American GIs to come up with the idea. Oh, one, as he said, a light bulb went off in my head. But then he realized, quote, you can't drop stuff off out of airplanes without permission.

And then he added, then I rationalized. And that's when you get in trouble. More of this remarkable story, the story of the Berlin Airlift, the story of American compassion and ingenuity. Here on Our American Stories. This clip is brought to you by Coca-Cola.

The holidays always find a way, whether you're making mom's famous recipes or getting your kids all dolled up to spend time with their loved ones. It's about enjoying the real magic of the season by surrounding yourself with good friends and family, delicious food and, of course, an ice cold Coke. So we're really happy and proud that my cultura saw something in us, saw the value in the community that we've built because of y'all and decided to bring us on. And so we're super excited about that. But I think also, like, I'm very firmly rooted in keeping this as an audio archive and that look, I thought I was going to continue to highlight community voices and folks that don't always get the airtime or media attention that they should. Coca-Cola, proud partner of the Michael Duda podcast network.

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Say what to watch into your Xfinity voice remote. And we continue with our American stories and the story of the Berlin Airlift, how it came to be, how it happened, and the man on the ground then who's now telling us the story is Colonel Gale Halverson. Let's continue where Gale last left off. After the first drop, let's say it was about three weeks later, when I got called in and chewed out because I didn't have permission like Colonel Hahn. It was about that long ago and then they said it's okay but you got to report down to Frankfurt, to the press center at Frankfurt. They want to know all about it. So this news release came out.

So it was then I knew that boy something, somebody really thought this was a crazy idea. So I went in and all the news agencies of course were covering the Berlin Airlift. So they were all there in this big press center in Frankfurt and I was pretty humbled. The first lieutenant guy had a chauffeur and a driver and took me into Frankfurt in a hurry and all these guys waiting for me.

Wow! What have I got? What happened? Then I knew.

And then I was crazy. Everybody was talking about it. When the word got out, we came back from Berlin to the beds and there would be boxes of chocolate bars, gum, the guys would give the ration. And we figured that overall we must have dropped about 250,000 parachutes during the course of the blockade. We were able to drop, my buddies dropped after I left. They kept dropping and dropped until the end of September 1949.

So it went on that long. What happened is that the American Confectioners Association that represents all the candy makers in America got a hold of me when I was in New York in September 1948 to pick up an airplane. General Tunner had me stay for a week in New York and appear on the early television program We the People and a number of radio talk shows to inform people about what the airlift was like and my operation. And the representative of the American Confectioners Association said, how much of this stuff can you use? And I gave him some ridiculous number. And later they sent 6,000 pounds of chocolate bars by boat and by rail through Bremerhaven down to Rhine Mine. I came back from Berlin one day and an officer met me with a jeep and said, come with me.

And he said, I'll show you. We go to the railway spur on Rhine Mine and there was a boxcar with an armed guard. And I said, what's in the boxcar?

And he says, chocolate bars. And it was two shipments of one 3,000 pounds, one 3,500 pounds of chocolate bars. And we couldn't drop that much because we couldn't tie up the parachutes.

We were too busy. And so we decided to have a Christmas party in Berlin with that and we got that about the middle of December 1948, those shipments. And we unloaded and put it in a supply building where there was somebody there all the time to guard it because, boy, that was enough chocolate to buy King Ludwig's castle on the black market. It was an incredible value. And so we accumulated all of it before Christmas.

And on the 24th of December 1948, the German Youth Association in Berlin, the youth of West Berlin, and the military teamed up and had Christmas parties for the kids all over West Berlin for that amount. But from then on, they said, we can't handle it this way. If we had it ready to drop, then we could drop it all over the city as we came in.

And so they said, okay. I don't know how they found it, but Elms Junior College in Chickapea, Massachusetts, and Miss O'Connor said, we'll handle that project for them. Just send all the candy dust and we'll tie up the parachutes, put it in boxes ready to drop, and ship it. In Chickapea, Mass., they had a fire station, an old fire station that they got a new one. So the city gave it to them. They had a big sign up for them, Operation Little Biddle. And 22 schools would alternate tying up parachutes. And sailboat companies donated old sailcloth. They'd have cut it up parachutes about the size of a man's handkerchief a little bigger. And the twine companies gave them all the twine.

The cardboard companies gave them all the cardboard. They had processed 18 tons through that facility by January 1949. And Westover Air Force Base was right next to Chickapea, Mass. It was one of the big transport bases that supported Rhine Mine. And there's airplanes going back and forth all the time. And so I had all my squadron over there organized so that we had a map of Berlin with pens and a map on the best places to drop through the cloud when it was cloudy.

We knew where the homing beacons were around the city for navigation. And so we knew where the biggest playgrounds or where the children most likely congregated. So we'd bring those boxes in and the pilot would take them out. We quit dropping by the end of the runway because the crowd was too big and concentrated area.

I was afraid the kids were getting hurt. Bigger guys running over them for the stuff. So we started dropping randomly all over the city. So when we come over different parts of the city where we wanted to drop, the crew chief would go back and just check this. Cut the top of the cardboard box and just chuck it up against the escape hatch. And the stuff would come out like popcorn and just blow all over the place. And scab it all over the countryside. We'd drop it from 1,000 feet to 2,000 feet.

And they'd just go all over. I've got letters from kids. One man in 1998, I'm still flying the Berlin Air Lift flying museum, the Spirit of Freedom, the Berlin Air Lift Historical Foundation airplane. And we make parachute drops out of it a lot. We go to air shows all over the country. In 1998, we flew across the North Atlantic back to Europe.

Sixty-nine days in Europe. Air shows and air drops in Great Britain, France, Luxembourg, and Berlin twice. And in Berlin, when the people would come through the airplane, you could tell immediately those who were there during the blockade. They were very emotional about telling you, thanks for our freedom.

And with moist eyes, they'd tell you how much it meant to them. And you've been listening to Colonel Gail Halverson tell the story of the Berlin Air Lift after that first drop of his, the one where he didn't ask for permission. Well, just a few weeks later, he was hauled in, as he put it, and chewed out. But soon thereafter, he found himself in Frankfurt in a big press conference. He'd stumbled onto something.

By the way, this old adage that my dad taught me, a military adage, better to ask for forgiveness than permission. And boy, is it no better evidence of that than right here. And my goodness, starting the drop in one place created problems. Everybody started to gather.

Then the next thing you know, Halverson was worried that young kids would get trampled by the starving big kids. So then the drop started to get scattered all over Germany. And from one to two thousand feet, can you imagine being starving and waiting for stuff to come out of the sky from American planes that had bombed you only, well, just years before?

It's remarkable, actually. When we come back, more of the story of the Berlin Air Lift here on Our American Stories. This clip is brought to you by Coca-Cola. The holidays always find a way.

Whether you're making mom's famous recipes or getting your kids all dolled up to spend time with their loved ones, it's about enjoying the real magic of the season by surrounding yourself with good friends and family, delicious food and, of course, an ice cold Coke. So we're really happy and proud that my cultura saw something in us, saw the value in the community that we've built because of y'all and decided to bring us on. And so we're super excited about that. But I think also, like, I'm very firmly rooted in keeping this as an audio archive. And that look at that is going to continue to highlight community voices and folks that don't always get the airtime or media attention that they should. Coca-Cola, proud partner of the My Cultura podcast network.

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There's a better way to fly private. The holidays are headed to your place with a special collection that's packing the cheer, all on Xfinity Flex. Host a movie marathon with winter favorites like Love Actually and Home Alone. Unwind with big laughs from hits like The Office and Elf. Or snuggle up with something new like Holiday in Santa Fe or Holiday Harmony. And keep festive tunes on repeat with North Pole Radio hosted by Santa from iHeartRadio. Whether you want to watch something fresh or familiar, you can feel the holiday spirit with Xfinity Flex.

Say what to watch into your Xfinity voice remote. And we continue with our American stories and with Colonel Gale Halverson, who was there and who, in essence, sort of got the thing rolling, the idea of the Berlin Airlift. Let's return where Gale last left off. But one of the men that came through, he's 60 years old, and said to me, 50 years ago I was a boy at 10 going to school and the clouds were very low and it was raining. I knew you were using radar to land because I couldn't see any airplanes. And suddenly out of this cloud came a parachute with a fresh Hershey candy bar and landed right at my feet. And it took me a week to eat it. He said, that's astounded.

I hit it day and night. And he said, it's not the chocolate that was important. What was important was that somebody in America knew I was in trouble, somebody cared. He said, I can live on thin rations, but not without hope. Without hope, the soul dies, he said. And one little boy was going to school. Suddenly he'd hear come a bunch of parachutes, it wasn't that bad of weather before, and they were picking him up, but he was out of the group of ways and he saw that one landed in the duck pond. And he went in the duck pond after it. He got all mucky with duck stuff and everything else. He got the parachute and the chocolate bar. And he went on to the school, it wasn't very far from where he caught it, Headmaster. So I went, what are you doing kind of school, all muddy and all messed up. And he showed him the thing and the guy says, oh that's all right, that's all right, that's okay. And so he, I think he had to send him home to change his clothes.

So that was exciting for him, they never knew where he was going. The East Berlin kids wrote to me and said, look, we can't help but where they put the border, we're over here with these Russians. We like the Americans and we're getting some of that stuff. We come over to West Berlin and we're catching it. And we'd like to have you drop it over East Berlin, there's not so many people over here. It'd be a lot better for us. And so I said, why not?

And so I did. And it'd be fun, there are some soccer fields in our pattern as we'd go around East Berlin. And when they'd be playing soccer, that's when I liked it best because we'd save the candy if we got over the kids playing soccer in East Berlin and kick it out. The football would go one direction, the kids would chase the ball, the parachutes going somewhere else, break up the soccer game.

But that was fun to watch it. We'd bank the airplane and get a look at what's going on. So I had to quit in East Berlin because the Soviets complained to the State Department that it's a dirty capitalist trick. They're trying to influence the minds of the young people against us, the Soviets, by giving them chocolate. And they said it was a CIA operation, this government operation has got to stop.

Well, it was never a government operation. And so I came back from Berlin one day and this officer met the airplane and says, what are you doing over East Berlin? And then I knew I was in trouble. He said, well, you've got to stop. And he told me why.

I've had lots of people in East Berlin that I've met that caught parachutes. Asked me why I quit. That's politics, not people.

Politics is a problem. I guess it's addictive. It's the only drug I've ever been addicted to, the smile on the kid's face when he got something unexpected. I didn't think I did anything special. I just gave kids two sticks of gum.

I just keep thinking, it's just two sticks of gum. That's all it is. And whatever's made of it, it's somebody else, not my doing. Whenever you think that you're causing all the good things to happen, boy, you're in deep trouble. From then on, you're off the path of life. If you don't give credit for the good lord of what he's made available to us and what other people do for you, then you just as well say, hey, buddy, I'm not a contributor to society anymore. I'm a millstone in the system.

I think the airlift to me was a reinforcement of the things my church taught me all my life and my family taught me. Basically, money is not the answer to happiness. The more you get, the more you want.

And there's just no answer, an open-ended chase for the fountain of youth. The only way to real fulfillment is serving others, service before self. That's one of the Air Force's core values, service before self. And that's what the Savior taught. This is life.

If you want happiness, serve others. The Dead Sea is dead because it takes in all the good ideas of fresh water and gives out nothing, so it's dead. And people are that way. They say, give me, give me all the time and give not of themselves.

They're dead sea souls. And that was demonstrated in space. Well, Jesus Christ said, greater love than this hath no man than he lay down his life for a friend. And thirty-one of our buddies gave their lives for an enemy, Germans that became a friend.

Why? Because the service, the reward you get, you can't buy by helping somebody, especially helping somebody in need. An enemy is the epitome. If you're able to do that, well, that's the ultimate, if you're able to forgive and to serve an enemy. So service before self.

That was the perfect demonstration, absolute perfect demonstration. And that indicates what my parents and my church taught me. Now, the other thing is the little decisions you make in life are important, extremely important, more important than big decisions, because they put your footsteps and your mindset on a path that leads you to your final destination, your final position. And you're down that path where you're not going to return when the big decision comes. That little decision, for two sticks of gum, the whole world changed for me.

For two sticks of gum, that's about as small as you can get. Where does the little decision come from? Well, we get an impression. Everybody's got a conscience. The spirit, we believe every person has in their conscience, and you've got a trigger. And it tells you very subtly what you ought to do. And then you argue with it and do something different.

And then you miss out on the good things in life. The gratitude to break down the wall between people. When you're grateful for something and don't think that you've invented the world by yourself and everything that happens to you is because of how smart you are. And give credit to nobody else.

Boy, you're in the dead seat, getting in the dead seat again. The gratitude by stopping and telling the lady mopping the floor in the office building on the way out that, boy, you're doing a good job and you can sure make this place look better. If you can see that, then be grateful back. And that job is getting better next time. And the other thing, I guess, too, is attitude. Ninety percent of the things that happen to us, including the airlift, we can do something about. We can hate the enemy and be mad all the time or we can get on with it enough to get the reinforcement to find out that we're doing something worthwhile. But attitude determines success or failure. In the family, in the home, or in the nation or the community, the attitude, how you approach things. Ninety percent of the things I think that happen to us, we can determine how we feel. We have control of that one string on their violin, how we react. That's attitude. And ten percent we can't.

That's what he said. God grant me the serenity to accept the things I can't change, that ten percent that you can't change, and the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to tell the difference. So attitude, attitude is, boy, it's about everything. And the airlift had all of them. Attitude, gratitude serves the foreself and integrity.

All those things were factored in. That's the airlift to me. And a great job on the storytelling and production by Greg Hengler. And a special thanks to Colonel Gail Halverson, who celebrated his 101st birthday recently. And thanks to the National Archives for the interview and the Truman Presidential Library. There's also a wonderful children's book, Christmas from Heaven, The True Story of the Berlin Candy Bomber, with Tom Brokaw narrating the story in the book's accompanying DVD.

My goodness, how rich. To bump into a beneficiary of the Berlin airlift decades later and have a grown man say it wasn't the chocolate that was important. It was the sense that someone out there cared. A person can survive thin rations.

One can't survive without hope. And my goodness, 2.3 million tons of supplies were dropped in the Berlin airlift. 2.3 million tons. It was called Operation Vittles and took place over an 18-month period. And I simply love what Halverson said at the end. The Berlin airlift reinforced many of the things my church taught me and my family. Money is not the answer. Real fulfillment comes from serving others. Service before self.

It's what our Savior taught us. Colonel Gail Halverson's story, the Berlin airlift story, and a story of so much more, including the American spirit and American generosity. By the way, we did this with the British as well. Our compatriots across the sea. Here on Our American Stories. This clip is brought to you by Coca-Cola. The holidays always find a way.

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Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-21 17:53:23 / 2022-12-21 18:11:52 / 18

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