Story by Emily Jennings
and Jessica Ryan
More than 45,000 people attended a celebration at U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden’s airfield on Clay Kaserne June 10 and 11 in commemoration of 70 years since the end of the Berlin Airlift.
“This event is a testament to the strong and enduring friendship between the German and American people that began 70 years ago with the air bridge to Berlin, which remains the largest humanitarian airlift in history,” said USAG Wiesbaden Commander Col. Noah Cloud.
The U.S. Air Forces in Europe band “The Ambassadors” set the mood for the June 10 event, playing 1940’s big band music, which was followed by parachutists who dropped into the event.
Not long after, the “Candy Bomber,” retired U.S. Air Force Col. Gail Halvorsen, flew in on a C-47 Skytrain, the type of aircraft in which he flew supplies to West Berlin in 1948 and 1949. Halvorsen arrived on the runway to a water salute, greeted the waiting crowd and participated in a memorial ceremony to honor 81 personnel who lost their lives in support of the airlift — 13 Germans, 32 Americans and 36 British.
In the afternoon, a formation of C-47 Skytrains dropped small parachutes with candy for children, the USO hosted a 1948 Bob Hope reenactment and the Sick Puppies performed more music for the crowd.
In addition to 17 vintage C-47s that arrived for the event, four T-6 Texans flew in formation alongside Halvorsen as he arrived. On the airfield, a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter, AH-64 Apache helicopter and a C-12 Huron aircraft were also on display.
“This event was only possible because of the great working relationship and partnership that exists between our American community and the city of Wiesbaden,” Cloud said.
For the Wiesbaden community, the celebration was a special time for people to stand the same ground where history took place decades ago.
“It’s important to know that a part of the enduring quality of this community is its history,” said Lee Carter, an English teacher at Wiesbaden High School.
U.S. Army Capt. Garrett Sobalvarro attended the June 11 event with his family and commented on the strength of the U.S. and host nation partnership.
“It’s a great show of solidarity with our host nation,” he added. “There was a lot of gratitude from the Germans for our help and our allies’ help.”