Sunday, April 6, 2003

Candy Bomber eyes Baghdad



By James Hannah
The Associated Press

DAYTON, Ohio - The pilot known as the Candy Bomber for air-dropping handkerchief-tethered chocolate and gum to the children of Berlin in 1948 wants to do the same thing for the kids of Baghdad.

"I'd give my right arm to do it," said retired Air Force Col. Gail Halvorsen. "I've had the experience of the reaction of the kids on the ground. It's just incredible."

When the Soviets formed a blockade around Berlin after World War II, Halvorsen and other U.S. pilots airlifted food, medicine and other supplies into the city. During that time, Halvorsen collected rations from his Air Force friends and began to quietly drop little parachutes of candy to the children.

"I didn't have permission. I almost got court martialed," he recalled.

Halvorsen later got permission, and he and his colleagues ended up air-dropping 23 tons of candy to the German children.

Halvorsen still makes his trademark candy drops.

In 1994, he flew a C-130 cargo plane over Bosnia and dropped candy-bar parachutes to the children there. And over the past year, he's made a dozen similar flights in the United States to demonstrate the drops to schoolchildren.

Halvorsen said he plans to ask his friends in the Air Force if he can make a candy drop over Baghdad once the war is over.

"I'm planning on how to do that when the dust clears," he said. "I'm going to make a request."

Halvorsen, 82, of Spanish Fork, Utah, was in Dayton to speak at an aviation symposium to mark the 100th anniversary of the Wright brothers' first flight.

Halvorsen said the candy drops brought hope to the kids of Berlin.

"That's what the airplane would bring to Iraq," he said. "They've been mistreated so long, with resources diverted to other things. The bottom line is it would lift their spirits."




LUCASVILLE PRISON RIOT: 10 YEARS LATER
Spending cuts endanger reform, advocates say
Widow mourns guard's murder
Key figures during the riot

TOP LOCAL STORIES
Census shift costs Ohio $92M in Medicaid
Civil Air Patrol back to future
UC school redesigns itself

ENQUIRER COLUMNS
PULFER: Women at war
BRONSON: Who blows the whistle on media fouls?

TRISTATE REACTS TO WAR
War exposure worries parents
Two fallen Ohio soldiers mourned
Keeping in touch with Tristate military
Dinner for families of troops
School donations requested
How to get involved

BUTLER COUNTY
Oxford manager fights rap show
Miami tuition plan praised for addressing shift
Hamilton invited to town meeting

AROUND THE TRISTATE
Tristate A.M. Report
Good News: Schoolchildren raise dollars to assist Freedom Center
Obituary: Bishop Jasper Phillips was dedicated leader
Obituary: William Wessels was firefighter for 30 years

OHIO
Ohio Moments: Stanbery first state attorney general
House GOP struggles to close funding gap
Candy Bomber eyes Baghdad
Ex-first lady shares tales of 2 presidents

KENTUCKY
Priest's plea is just a start

INDIANA
French Lick casino could become reality
Domed hotel could benefit
Girl gets dose 100 times more than ordered
Ind. takes whack at bush honeysuckle