The Candy Bomber

There’s not much to update with Row80, except one thing. Last night at my writer’s group I won an award. My group is the local chapter of a larger organization called the League of Utah Writers and we decided to have a chapter writing contest for short stories, articles, and poems, and have them judged by other chapters’ members—so there wouldn’t be any bias. I entered my short story TRICK OR TREE, and tonight I found out I won first place. 🙂 Granted, it’s only against the other members of my chapter, but it’s still nice to find out people thought my short story ranked first. Plus as an added bonus first place winners of each category get a $50 credit to spend toward future contests, writing conferences, or other writing career related things. Woot! I’m hoping this is a sign of further good things to come, like winning the final round of Pitch Wars (results won’t come until late January at the earliest) and the other two contests I’ve entered (results for these, not until late February). I was certainly all smiles last night. I am today as well.

And I guess that’s the end of this round of Row80. I think I’m going to take a break from Row80 and I may change up the blog schedule. But aside from all that, I’ve decided to take a break from my regularly scheduled programming to tell you about something you may love.

Last Sunday I had the opportunity to go to the annual Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas program. It’s kind of a big deal around here. We’ve seen the likes of Brian Stokes Mitchell, Jane Seymour, and Natalie Cole to name a few come and participate as guests during the program. This year it featured Alfie Boe and Tom Brokaw.

Mormon Tabernacle Choir

You can go Thursday through Sunday when it’s running. Tickets are free, but if you want some you have to enter a sort of lottery and hope they select you for tickets. Or you can standby and hope you get in. Some years and days are easier than others.

Anyways, this year they featured the story of the Candy Bomber, a man Tom Brokaw wrote about in his book The Greatest Generation. Here’s the story.

Gail_300Gale Halverson (nicknamed “Hal”) was serving over in Germany in 1948 as a part of the airlift effort, which kept food supplied to the poor Germans living within Stalin’s blockade at that time. Most kids servicemen encountered begged for candy, but during one day at an airport, Hal, spoke to some kids behind a barbed wire fence who weren’t begging for candy, but instead thanked him for the efforts being made to supply them with food.

All Hal had on him that day was two sticks of gum. He wanted to give the kids something so badly, but feared there would be a squabble over the sticks of gum. He felt like he should give it to them anyway, and the kids immediately separated the wrapper into several small pieces so that everyone could have a brief smell and maybe feel like they were eating candy.

gailkids

Hal was so touched by this, he decided that he would ask other servicemen to donate their gum rations, create little parachutes with gum attached and drop them for the kids stuck in the Stalin occupied Berlin. The kids asked him how they’d know his plane, and he told them something like, “Look for the one with the wiggling wings.” He then became affectionately known as “Uncle Wiggly Wings.”

candybomber

Attention to this effort swelled, and by the end of the operation, 25 plane crews had dropped 23 tons of various candies in various parts of Berlin—all started by the action of one man.

At the concert, Tom Brokaw recounted this story with a grand silk sheet spread from ceiling to floor, which had projected images and old footage of the candy bomber and his friends. Children behind theatrical barb-wire fences stood on either side of the silk sheet, representing those children Hal had encountered.

When the story had finished, the silk sheet bubbled to the floor like cascading blue water and the sound of bombers filled the air with spotlights searching the ceiling. False snow and fog flooded the stage, and then something I’ll never forget happened. About 100 little white parachutes floated down from the ceiling into the audience.

parachutes

Needless to say it took a long time for my eyes to dry. It made me agree with Mr. Brokaw, that truly these kinds of men were what made up America’s greatest generation.

They sell the DVDs of these concerts every following Christmas. If you have a chance to watch one, I’d highly recommend it. It’s truly one of the most touching stories you’ll ever hear.

To learn more about the Candy Bomber, visit TheCandyBombers.com. For additional photos of the concert visit Deseret News’ review on the event (this one has a much cooler parachute picture) or here.

I hope this story helps bring about the right kind of Christmas mood for you. Merry Christmas!

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8 thoughts on “The Candy Bomber

    • It’s true. There’s something about a brand new year that gets me all motivated to accomplish certain things. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t, but I still like that extra push of motivation. Here’s to another year of writing!

    • He sang “Bring Him Home” during the concert. I’m not really one for operatic style singers, but when he sang that song… wow! Yeah, he oozes with talent. And he’s a really nice guy (or at least he sounds like one). And his wife is a Salt Lake native, which I’m sure is a big part of the reason he came.

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