Gail Halvorsen served in the US Military for more than 30 years but is most known for his role in the Berlin Airlift in 1948-49.
During one of his flights to deliver supplies to West Berlin, Halvorsen met a group of about 30 children watching the planes being unloaded at Tempelhof airport. Halvorsen shared the 2 sticks of chewing that he had in his pocket with these children. They broke these sticks into tiny pieces so that as many children as possible could have a piece. Those that did not get a piece were given the wrappers to smell. Impressed by this behavior and saddened by how little these children had, Halvorsen promised to return with more candy for the children. The children asked him how they would know that he had arrived and he said that he would wiggle the wings of his plane. This was the beginning of “Uncle Wiggly Wings”.
The next time that Halvorsen flew to West Berlin, he had collected the candy rations of his friends and made little parachutes out of handkerchiefs. He wiggled his wings and threw these down to the children as he passed over them. This became a regular occurence and the number of children waiting for the candy continued to grow with each delivery. The children gave Halvorsen another name, the “raisin bomber”.
As news of this informal candy delivery reached Major General William Tunner who ran the entire operation, he saw an opportunity for propaganda. He gave instructions to other pilots to deliver candy as well and named the operation, “Operation Little Vittles”. As people in America heard about this, donations of candy and handerkerchiefs made their way to West Berlin. Tons and tons of candy were delivered to the city. This was a major propaganda victory for the West.