First of all, my apologies for it being so long since my last post.
Secondly, to preface this post, I need to explain that I just ended my 4th week of attendance at the NCO Academy (NCOA). Basically, the NCOA is a 6-week long course that's designed to help Technical Sergeants (TSgt/E-6) learn how to become managers/supervisers, or perhaps improve on that. It's a required course for anyone aspiring to the rank of Master Sergeant (MSgt E-7). It's mostly classroom learning, but they do occasionally have guest speakers. Today, we had the best guest speaker so far. His name is Gail Halvorsen.
Retired Colonel Gail Halvorsen was one of many pilots that flew the cargo aircraft during the Berlin Airlift. That, in itself, is pretty cool, and worthy of mention. What really makes him stand out is that he came to be known as "The Candy Bomber," "Schokolade-fliegen," and "Uncle Wiggly Wings." For the full story, you can go here
as a start; of course, Google will give you a lot more places to go. Essentially, it started with him meeting some children that were gathered along the fence outside of the Berlin Tempelhof airport. He told us that despite the difficult times they were having, not a single one of those approximately 30 children begged for any sort of handout. He had two sticks of gum in his pocket; he decided to pass them through the fence; the children split the gum up as best as they could, with some children only getting to smell the wrappers. Not a single fight broke out among them, he said.
He promised them he would drop some more candy near that spot, since it was along the final approach. The children asked how they would know which plane he was in. Col Halvorsen came up with an ingenious idea; he would wiggle the wings of his plane as he approached.
The story eventually got picked up by a newspaper in Berlin; on the front page was a picture of the aircraft Col Halvorsen had been flying; the tail number was readily visible, and legible. A General called the unit's commander, a Colonel, who called then-Lieutenant Halvorsen into his office, asking him if he knew what was going on. After explaining the situation, the Colonel didn't take any adverse action against Halvorsen.
He talked to us about the importance of integrity, and how it's the little decisions that can make such a big difference down the road. I really wish you could have been in the auditorium with us; he was truly a marvel to listen to.