Sunday, November 14, 2010

Candy Bomber

The number of living legends I've met has gone from zero to one.

Gail Halverson is in my ward and he's the coolest nonagenarian I've ever met. He came and talked to our primary and told the story of how he became the original candy bomber.

I missed the beginning part, so I'm not sure what he was doing by the fence, but he was standing outside the fence that separated East and West Germany during the Berlin airlift after WWII. Whenever he was in uniform walking around in the States, kids would mob him asking for chocolate, so he was really impressed that the group of kids who had gathered on the other side of the fence were just looking at him. He felt prompted by the Holy Ghost to give these kids the two sticks of gum he had in his pocket. He quickly dismissed the notion as he felt it would cause a riot and he didn't want any of the kids to get hurt. The feeling persisted, so he broke the two sicks in half and passed them through the fence.

There was no riot. Instead the kids distributed the gum and then passed the wrapper around to the kids who didn't get any so they could smell it. This made Brother Halverson want to help them even more, because they weren't greedy like American kids. He worked out with the kids that he would come and drop chocolate in a few days and they would know it was him because he would wiggle his wings on approach. He convinced some of his buddies to give up their chocolate rations and he tied handkerchiefs onto the chocolate bars because, as he said, "getting hit in the head with a Hershey bar going 110 miles per hour would make the wrong impression."

He did this for a while in secret (the kids nicknamed him Onkel Wackelfl├╝gel (Uncle Wigglywings)) until a German newspaper picked up the story. He thought he was going to be in trouble because his commanding officer looked upset when he called Brother Halverson into the office. He didn't get in trouble, quite the opposite, the project was expanded into Operation Little Vittles.

I hope I can be that cool when I'm 90.


The Clark's said...

The most special primary experience ever. I too hope to be as cool when I'm 90.

thejerry said...

Wow. I wish I had a nickname like Onkel Wackelfl├╝gel.

Bridget said...

Gail Halverson is in your ward??? Earlier this year I read Daring Young Men and he has a huge part in it. You should read it! And I think he has his own book out, too. That is SO cool.

Myriah Cohen said...

I am so glad you finally blogged about this. And why is Tyler in the back with Lillian? Is it because she was afraid to come closer to G. Halverson? Just like she's afraid to come close to almost anything that you might want to capture on film?

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