Celebrate 60 years at Ramstein event

Brig. Gen. Rich Johnston KMC and 86th Airlift Wing commander

All around the globe Air Force bases are celebrating their 60-year anniversary as a service. Ramstein, as well, will hold a huge birthday celebration to remember the past and to look toward the future.

All ID card holders are invited to Ramstein Saturday from noon to 8 p.m. for the 60th Air Force birthday celebration. There will be airplane static displays, history displays, food, live music, military demonstrations and more.  

We are honored to have two true heroes from the Air Force’s past join us during the celebration: Vietnam Medal of Honor Recipient Lt. Col. Leo Thorsness and Berlin Airlift Candy Bomber Col. Gail Halvorsen.  

Colonel Thorsness was awarded the Medal of Honor for valor in the Vietnam War for an air engagement on April 19, 1967. Two weeks later, the F-105 Thunderchief pilot was shot down on his 93rd mission (seven shy of completing his tour) by a MiG-21 over North Vietnam. He spent six years in captivity as a prisoner of war.  

Our other special guest is Col. Gail Halvorsen. He was a C-47 and C-54 pilot during the Berlin Airlift. While delivering supplies to Templehof Airport in 1948 and 1949, Colonel Halvorsen began parachuting packages of chewing gum and chocolates to Berlin children, earning him the nickname “Candy Bomber.”

By January of 1949 he had air dropped more than 250,000 parachutes loaded with candy on the city of Berlin, bringing a little joy to approximately 100,000 children during the blockade.  

These two heroes from our past represent the Air Force’s 60th anniversary theme perfectly: “From Heritage to Horizons, Commemorating 60 Years of Air and Space Power.”