Gail Halvorsen, a child of the Depression, recalls watching planes soar over his family farm in Utah and how he longed someday to be at the controls. As America geared up for the looming world war, Halvorsen was accepted into a pilot-training program.
The attack on Pearl Harbor prompted him to join the Army Air Corps, and he trained on fighters with the Royal Air Force. Reassigned to military transport service, Halvorsen remained in the service at war’s end. He was flying C-74 Globemasters and C-54 Skymasters out of Mobile, Ala., when word came in June 1948 that the Soviet Union had blockaded West Berlin.
During the 15-month airlift (Operation Vittles), American and British pilots delivered more than 2 million tons of supplies to the city. But it was Halvorsen’s decision to airdrop candy to children (Operation Little Vittles) that clinched an ideological battle and earned him the lasting affection of a free West Berlin.
On display in the Cold War section are several pieces signed by “The Candy Bomber.”