Monday, July 28, 2008

Col Gail S. Halvorsen 1920-

Colonel Halvorsen served as a C-47/C-54 transport pilot during World War II in the South Atlantic 1944-46.

During his volunteer assignment in the Berlin Airlift (Operation Vittles), he instituted Operation Little Vittles by dropping small parachutes laden with candy to the children of Berlin, including those in East Berlin. This self-initiated act of kindness became the humanitarian heart that kept the aircrews going, fueled the hope of all Berliners, and set the mold for all future humanitarian airlift. It also provided a catalyst for widespread support throughout the United States for what airlifters were trying to achieve - keep Berlin free from the Soviet yoke. The fame and recognition that followed would open doors for him to serve as a positive "diplomat" to Germany for years to come; a role he humbly accepts without personal compensation to this day.

He was the 1949 winner of the prestigious Cheney Award for his actions during the Berlin Airlift. Recently awarded the Air Force Association Ira Eaker Fellowship Award and the Air Force Sergeant's Association 1998 Americanism Award.

He served as a project engineer for cargo aircraft research and development with the Wright Air Development Center at Wright-Patterson AFB and Hill AFB from 1952 to 1957.

From 1957 to 1969 he was involved in various aspects of our growing space program to include the Titan III/Dyna-Soar program, advanced manned reusable spacecraft, and the Manned Orbital Laboratory Project - lift in another realm - Spacelift.

He was the commander of Templehof Air Base, Germany, 1970-1974, where one of his roles was to insure the free movement from the Berlin air corridors and plan airlift contingencies in case the Soviets would attempt another blockade. He was also the USAF Representative in Berlin.

He has been awarded the German Service Cross to the Order of Merit by the President of Germany for his efforts on behalf of that country and the Eric Warburg Award from the Atlantic Brucke Association.