More than 75 members of the German and American communities came together to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the Berlin Airlift.
The ceremony was held June 26 at the memorial site near Frankfurt International Airport and featured guest speakers ranging from the Frankfurt city treasurer to retired Col. Gail Halvorsen, the “Candy Bomber.”
The Berlin Airlift was an effort by the U.S., France and the United Kingdom to deliver food and other goods into West Berlin after the highways, railroads and canals were shut down by the Russians in an effort to take control of the city.
In response, allied aircraft supplied more than 2.3 million tons of cargo into West Berlin over the course of a year to ensure the citizens of their respective zones had supplies to live normal lives.
“We are here to celebrate a landmark of (German and American) friendship,” said Uwe Becker, Frankfurt treasurer. “It was a time which saw the end of the darkest chapter in German history after World War II, but also a time where the U.S., along with its allies, launched one of the largest humanitarian efforts in history.”
Before the celebration, service members from across Germany participated in a cleanup event to prepare the memorial site for the ceremony.
“We were invited to see the celebration of this historic event that brought our countries together,” said Jeff Bratcher, 726th Air Mobility Squadron air terminal manager. “There were quite a few of us from Spangdahlem and Ramstein air bases who participated in the memorial cleanup, so it was nice to see the actual event.”
The humanitarian effort included candy and other goods for children of the city, all of which showed any appreciation they could to the American aircrew.
“The children were so grateful. Not one would say ‘gimme,’” Halvorsen said. “They would share everything they got. I remember giving them two pieces of gum and they broke the pieces up so that everyone could take one. They taught me to put principal before pleasure.”
Looking back, the ceremony showed that members of the two nations are committed to fostering the relationship between the two nations.
“It was important to participate in order to keep the kinship and bond between the U.S. and Germany,” Bratcher said. “The Berlin Blockade was a very important time between the two countries and by revisiting the event, it shows that the two countries are continuing to develop the relationship between them.”
The ceremony concluded with Halvorsen receiving candy from a children’s choir at the end of their performance.