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Berlin Airlift remembered

Discussion in 'Military History' started by Kai-Petri, May 12, 2009.

  1. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Berlin Airlift remembered, key moment in Cold War

    BERLIN – A World War II-era cargo plane dropped hundreds of boxes of chocolate-covered raisins on tiny parachutes into a crowd of tens of thousands on Tuesday, recreating a highlight of the operation that kept West Berlin out of Soviet hands.

    The drop came on the 60th anniversary of the day the Soviets lifted their blockade strangling West Berlin.

    More than 100,000 Berliners turned out in honor of the 120 American, British and French veterans of the airlift who were on hand at Tempelhof, the hub for U.S. planes during the airlift, for the celebrations.

    U.S. airlift pilot Gail Halvorsen said the city's approximately 2 million citizens themselves were the unsung heroes.

    "They slept in bombed-out buildings with little heat ... but they said we'll never give in," Halvorsen told The AP. "They said we don't have enough to eat, just give us a little — someday we'll have enough — but if we lose our freedom, we'll never get it back."

    Halvorsen is probably the best known of the airlift pilots, thanks to an inadvertent propaganda coup born out of goodwill. Early in the airlift, the man from Utah shared two sticks of gum with starving Berlin kids and saw others sniffing the wrappers just for a hint of the flavor.

    Touched, he told the children to come back the next day, when he would drop them candy, using handkerchiefs as parachutes.

    He started doing it regularly, using his own candy ration. Soon other pilots and crews joined in what would be dubbed "Operation Little Vittles."

    After an Associated Press story appeared under the headline "Lollipop Bomber Flies Over Berlin," a wave of candy and handkerchief donations followed.

    The airlift itself began June 26, 1948, in an ambitious plan to feed and supply West Berlin, after the Soviets — one of the four occupying powers of a divided Berlin after World War II — blockaded the city in an attempt to squeeze the U.S., Britain and France out of the enclave within Soviet-occupied eastern Germany.

    American, British, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand and South African pilots flew 278,000 flights to Berlin over 15 months, carrying about 2.3 million tons of food, coal, medicine and other supplies.

    On the operation's busiest day — April 16, 1949 — about 1,400 planes carried in nearly 13,000 tons over 24 hours — an average of one plane touching down almost every minute.

    On the ground in Berlin, ex-Luftwaffe mechanics were enlisted to help maintain aircraft, and some 19,000 Berliners — almost half of them women — worked around the clock for three months to build Tegel Airport, providing a crucial relief for the British Gatow and American Tempelhof airfields.

    Finally, on May 12, 1949, the Soviets realized the blockade was futile and lifted their barricades. The airlift continued for several more months, however, as a precaution in case the Soviets changed their minds.

    http://us.mc519.mail.yahoo.com/mc/s...oNVkWlWg,1_111589_AEAwvs4AAEMJSf684QEu/V7/1Oc,
     
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  2. von Poop

    von Poop Waspish

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    Berlin Airlift Memorial, rather poorly snapped in the freezing cold at the National memorial arboretum last year.
    Fruit trees behind planted for each of the British personnel that lost their lives on the operation.

    Thirty-Nine trees in total :poppy:.

    [​IMG]

    ~A
     
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  3. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    BBC NEWS | Europe | Berlin pays thanks to airlift veterans

    Among the pilots was Leroy Williamson from Dallas, Texas. Mr Williamson is among a group of 100 airlift veterans in Berlin to mark the 60th anniversary of the end of the blockade.

    "Outfoxing the Russians - that was one of our greatest achievements" he tells me.

    "I knew what I was doing was important," Leroy says. "We had to keep two million West Berliners fed."

    At Tempelhof airport on Tuesday, Berlin thanked the visiting veterans.

    There was a ceremony by the memorial to the 78 airmen and ground crew killed in the airlift. Military bands played sombre music and soldiers laid wreaths.

    And then a salute from the skies - a fly-over to honour the veterans down below.
     
  4. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Over 70 years ago- amazing achievement!
     

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