The U.S Air Force unit that managed the Berlin Airlift furled its flags Friday in a ceremony that featured the “candy-bomber” and the little girl who complained that the roar of the planes kept her chickens from laying eggs.
Retired Col. Gail S. Halvorsen started the practice of dropping chewing gum and chocolates as his C-47 transport was about to land at Tempelhof Airport, carrying food and fuel to West Berlin during the 1948-49 Berlin Blockade.
It made the young pilot famous among Berliners, and other fliers followed suit until their transport planes became known as “Rosinenbomber,” literally “raisin bombers,” in a city that had been ruined by real bombing.
But in 1948, a young girl named Mercedes wrote Halvorsen a complaining letter:
“We live by the airfield,” it said. “We have chickens, and they’re not laying eggs. You’re flying over our house and scaring our chickens.”’
The letter added: “If you see the white chickens, drop the candy there. We don’t care if it scares them.”