Gail Halvorsen-The candy bomber.

Shortly after a war it would be quite unnerving to see a bomber flying over your city.

However in West Berlin in 1948, this was a welcome sight. It probably was the equivalent of Santa delivering presents early. After World War 2, when Soviet Union leader Josef Stalin occupied West Berlin in 1948, Halvorsen participated in the Berlin Airlift, a joint military effort between America and the United Kingdom to deliver food and aid to the German city.

Lieutenant Halvorsen’s role in the Berlin Airlift was to fly one of many C-54 cargo planes used to ferry supplies into the starving city. During his flights he would first fly to Berlin, then deeper into Soviet-controlled areas. Halvorsen had an interest in photography and on his days off often went sightseeing in Berlin and shot film on his personal handheld movie camera. One day in July, he was filming planes taking off and landing at Tempelhof, the main landing site for the airlift. While there, he saw about thirty children lined up behind one of the barbed-wire fences. He went to meet them and noticed that the children had nothing. Halvorsen remembers: “I met about thirty children at the barbed wire fence that protected Tempelhof’s huge area. They were excited and told me that ‘when the weather gets so bad that you can’t land, don’t worry about us. We can get by on a little food, but if we lose our freedom, we may never get it back.'”Touched, Halvorsen reached into his pocket and took out two sticks of gum to give to the children. The kids broke them into little pieces and shared them; the ones who did not get any sniffed the wrappers.

Watching the children, so many of whom had absolutely nothing, Halvorsen regretted not having more to give them. Halvorsen recorded that he wanted to do more for the children, and so told them that the following day he would have enough gum for all of them, and he would drop it out of his plane. According to Halvorsen, one child asked “How will we know it is your plane?” to which Halvorsen responded that he would wiggle his wings, something he had done for his parents when he first got his pilot’s license in 1941.

That night, Halvorsen, his copilot, and his engineer pooled their candy rations for the next day’s drop. The accumulated candy was heavy, so in order to ensure that no children were hurt by the falling package, Halvorsen made three parachutes out of handkerchiefs and tied them to the rations.In the morning when Halvorsen and his crew made regular supply drops, they also dropped three boxes of candy attached to handkerchiefs. They made these drops once a week for three weeks. Each week, the group of children waiting at the Tempelhof airport fence grew significantly.

When word reached the airlift commander, Lieutenant General William H. Tunner, he ordered it expanded into Operation “Little Vittles”, named as a play on the airlift’s name of Operation Vittles. Operation Little Vittles began officially on September 22, 1948. Support for this effort to provide the children of Berlin with chocolate and gum grew quickly, first among Halvorsen’s friends, then to the whole squadron. As news of Operation Little Vittles reached the United States, children and candymakers from all over the US began contributing candy. By November 1948, Halvorsen could no longer keep up with the amount of candy and handkerchiefs being sent from across America. College student Mary C. Connors of Chicopee, Massachusetts offered to take charge of the now national project and worked with the National Confectioner’s Association to prepare the candy and tie the handkerchiefs. With the groundswell of support, Little Vittles pilots, of which Halvorsen was now one of many, were dropping candy every other day. Children all over Berlin had sweets, and more and more artwork was getting sent back with kind letters attached to them.The American candy bombers became known as the Rosinenbomber (Raisin Bombers), while Halvorsen himself became known by many nicknames to the children of Berlin, including his original moniker of “Uncle Wiggly Wings”, as well as “The Chocolate Uncle”, “The Gum Drop Kid” and “The Chocolate Flier”.

Operation “Little Vittles” was in effect from September 22, 1948, to May 13, 1949. Although Lieutenant Halvorsen returned home in January 1949, he passed on leadership of the operation to one of his friends, Captain Lawrence Caskey. Upon his return home, Halvorsen met with several individuals who were key in making Operation “Little Vittles” a success. Halvorsen personally thanked his biggest supporter Dorothy Groeger, a homebound woman who nonetheless enlisted the help of all of her friends and acquaintances to sew handkerchiefs and donate funds. He also met the schoolchildren and “Little Vittles” committee of Chicopee, Massachusetts who were responsible for preparing over 18 tons of candy and gum from across the country and shipping it to Germany. In total, it is estimated that Operation “Little Vittles” was responsible for dropping over 23 tons of candy from over 250,000 parachutes.

Halvorsen tells HistoryNet’s David Lauterborn that an encounter with a group of young German children watching Allied soldiers arrive at the Templehof air base helped put things into perspective. Through a barbed-wire perimeter fence, they spoke to him.

“These kids were giving me a lecture, telling me, “Don’t give up on us. If we lose our freedom, we’ll never get it back,” Halvorsen tells HistoryNet. “I just flipped. Got so interested, I forgot what time it was.”

The pilot then handed the children two sticks of gum and told them to come back the next day, when he planned to airdrop more sweets. He would wiggle the wings of his aircraft so they would know it was him, reports the Boston Globe.

Halvorsen lived up to his promise, asking other pilots to donate their candy rations and having his flight engineer rock the airplane during the drop. Things grew from there, as more and more children showed up to catch his airdrops and letters began to arrive “requesting special airdrops at other points in the city,” writes the Air Force. The peculiar wing maneuver was how Halvorsen earned his other nickname: ‘Uncle Wiggly Wings.’

During the airlift, Allied planes carrying supplies landed every 45 seconds at Templehoff Airport in Berlin. From June 1948, the pilots delivered 2.3 million tons of food, coal, medicine and other necessities on 278,000 flights up until the end of the Soviet blockade in May 1949, according to the AP.

Halvorsen remained in the military after the war, retiring as a colonel in 1974 from the Air Force, reports Richard Goldstein for the New York Times. He moved back to Utah and became assistant dean of student life at Brigham Young University in Provo.

That same year, Halvorsen received the Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany for his efforts as the “Candy Bomber,” per the Boston Globe.

Gail Seymour “The Candy Bomber” Halvorsen was born on October 10, 1920 and lived a very long life, He died aged 101 on February 16, 2022.

Halvorsen died from respiratory failure in Provo on February 16, 2022, at the age of 101.After funeral services conducted for him with full military honors, which included a flyover by a KC-135R of the Utah Air National Guard’s 151st Air Refueling Wing and a 21-gun salute by honor guard members from the Air Force ROTC units from BYU and Utah Valley University, he was buried at the Provo City Cemetery.

Happy Birthday dear Sir.

sources

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/candy-bomber-who-airdropped-sweets-to-german-children-in-1948-dies-at-101-180979610/

https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/airlift-chocolate-pilot/

Moody Blues-Prague in White Satin

Moody Blues

You’re an immensely popular Rock-Blues band and you have been invited to one of the Warsaw pact countries,Czechoslovakia to be precise.

They just got a new leader a man with a vision,a prelude to glasnost as such. Alexander Dubček opened it up his country for new cultural experiences, so when the Moody Blues got a chance to play a gig behind the iron curtain of course they took it with both hands, After all what could go wrong? They had the blessing of the supreme leader.

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Well it was August 20,1968 the day that the Soviet Union and the other Warsaw Pact nations decided they did not like these new liberties introduced by Mr Dubček and decided to end this party nick named the Prague spring and took control of this unruly situation.

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The band did get a chance to shoot a promo for a French TV show the video  was shot in the afternoon . As The Moody Blues played their hit song, Warsaw Pact troops were already preparing for an invasion. By the evening, it had begun, and the British Embassy took no chances and quickly withdrew the band members from the city. Justin Hayward recalled in an interview: “We were in Czechoslovakia when the Russians rolled in. The British Air Force very kindly got us out, and it wasn’t until we got back to England that we realized what was going on.”

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The chances of anything coming from earth, are a million to one, they say.

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We all know the story “War of the Worlds” be it either the book, movies or the musical version. A tag line of the story is “The chances of anything coming from Mars are a million to one, they say.”

Turns out that we beat the Martians to it. On July 1976. only 7 years after the first man to set foot on the Moon, the first man made object landed on Mars, the Viking 1″

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Viking 1’s  successful landing ,gave  a window into the climatic conditions of the red planet. From the crafts position  on Chryse Planitia, the Viking 1 spent six years transmitting pictures, information and occasionally life experiments back to Earth. Which are still being debated today.

The lander was launched using a Titan/Centaur launch vehicle. The launch happened on August 20 1975, 11 months before the landing.

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Viking 1 carried a biology experiment whose purpose was to look for evidence of life. Thus far no life has been found(or has there?)

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The forgotten Live Aid acts.

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On July 13 1985, one of the biggest ever music concerts took place. Live Aid. The aim of the concerts was to raise  funds for relief of the ongoing Ethiopian famine.

The concerts are often referred to as a dual-venue benefit concert, which is actually not true. Yes the main concerts took place in London and Philadelphia but there were other concerts held in tandem in Australia,Asia and other European countries.

Another thing that happened was the relaxing on restrictions to Rock music in the Soviet Union

The Soviet Unions’s  Contribution for Live Aid was the Band ‘Autograph’

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Their performance was broadcast via Satellite from Moscow to Wembley,London.They were introduced by Introduction by Vladimir Posner .They played 2 songs Golovokruzhenie ( ” Vertigo “) and Nam nuzhen nir ( ” We need peace “).

Yugoslavia contributed with their equivalent to Band Aid and USA For Africa with a song called “For a Million Years” the song was introduced by Mladen Popovic , who also gave some background information to the song.

BB King was performing at the North Sea Jazz Festival in the Hague,Netherlands that night and joined also via satellite link and played 4 songs.

“When It All Comes Down”
“Why I Sing the Blues”
“Don’t Answer the Door”
“Rock Me Baby”

BB King

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The last man on the Moon

 

lastmenonmoonMention Neil Armstrong and every one will know who he is and even what he said when he set foot as the first man on the Moon.

However the name Eugene Cernan will mean very little to most people. Although he was just as important to the Apollo missions. Eugene Ceman was the last man on the Moon, but he was also part of the Apollo 10 mission.

Apollo 10 was  the second manned mission(Apollo 8,had been the first) to orbit the Moon. Launched on May 18, 1969, it was the F mission: (the ‘dress rehearsal’ for the first Moon landing) testing all of the components and procedures, without actually landing on the surface.

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It was also the mission which set the  highest speed attained by a manned vehicle.24,791 mph on its return to earth on May 26 1969.

Eugene Cernan Cernan flew two other space missions: Gemini 9A, where he struggled during NASA’s second spacewalk ever. Cernan was originally selected with Thomas Stafford as backup pilot for Gemini 9. When the prime crew was killed in the crash of NASA T-38A “901” (USAF serial 63-8181) at Lambert Field on February 28, 1966, the backup crew became the prime crew—the first time this happened.

gemini-9a

Cernan was surprised, as were others, that he was selected as the commander for the Apollo 17 mission. Shortly before the selection of the crew, Cernan had crashed his helicopter. After the crash he said  “if he couldn’t fly a helicopter without incident, how could he command a journey to the moon?”  Richard F. Gordon Jr. would have been a more likely candidate as commander for the mission, partially because he had been a member as the back up crew of the cancelled Apollo 15 mission together with Harrison H. Schmitt.

Schmitt was a geologist, making him the first scientist-astronaut to land on moon.He was assigned as Lunar Module Pilot for the Apollo 17 mission.

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Scientific objectives of the Apollo 17 mission included, geological surveying and sampling of materials and surface features in a pre-selected area of the Taurus-Littrow region; deploying and activating surface experiments.

Cernan’s role as commander of Apollo 17 closed out the Apollo program’s lunar exploration mission with a number of record-setting achievements. During the three days of Apollo 17’s surface activity (Dec. 11-14, 1972), Cernan and Schmitt performed three EVAs (Extravehicular Activities)or Spacewalk and moonwalk in this case, of  a total of about 22 hours of exploration of the Taurus–Littrow valley. Their first EVA alone was more than three times the length astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin spent outside the Lunar Module.

As Cernan was getting ready  to climb the ladder for the final time, he spoke these words; which are the last spoken by a human standing on the Moon’s surface to date:

“Bob, this is Gene, and I’m on the surface; and, as I take man’s last step from the surface, back home for some time to come – but we believe not too long into the future – I’d like to just (say) what I believe history will record: that America’s challenge of today has forged man’s destiny of tomorrow. And, as we leave the Moon at Taurus–Littrow, we leave as we came and, God willing, as we shall return, with peace and hope for all mankind. Godspeed the crew of Apollo 17.”

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Sadly Eugene Cernan died on January 16, 2017 but what a legacy he left behind, they just don’t make them like that anymore. A true hero.

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Sources

NASA

Space.com

First human in Space

Yuri-Gagarin-1961-Helsinki-crop

Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarinwas a Soviet pilot and cosmonaut. He was the first human to journey into outer space when his Vostok spacecraft completed an orbit of the Earth on 12 April 1961.

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During the flight, the 27-year-old test pilot and industrial technician also became the first man to orbit the planet, a feat accomplished by his space capsule in 89 minutes. Vostok 1 orbited Earth at a maximum altitude of 187 miles and was guided entirely by an automatic control system. The only statement attributed to Gagarin during his one hour and 48 minutes in space was, “Flight is proceeding normally; I am well.”

Vostok1

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Sources

ESA

Armaghplanet

When Stalin wanted to kill John Wayne

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No this is not the title of a movie, but why this never was turned into a movie is beyond me.

Joseph Stalin wanted John Wayne gone so badly he sent two men to pose as FBI agents to take him down.It might come as a surprise that Joseph Stalin, Soviet dictator, man of steel, and murderer of millions, was quite the movie buff. He had a private theater in each one of his homes,and in his last years, the cinema became not only his favourite entertainment but also a source of political inspiration.

Stalin was so angered by John Wayne’s anti-communism that he plotted to have him murdered. He ordered the KGB to assassinate John Wayne because he considered him a threat to the Soviet Union.maxresdefault

When the Russian filmmaker Sergei Gerasimov attended a peace conference in New York in 1949 he heard about John Wayne and his anti-communist beliefs. When he returned to the Soviet Union he immediately told Stalin about John Wayne.

Wayne had previously clashed with the Communists because of his opinions, even receiving a threatening anonymous letter. When one of his friends advised him to be more cautious, the Duke declared “no goddamn Commie’s gonna frighten me.”john-wayne-assassination

The situation took a decidedly more serious turn, however, when the movie star attracted the attention of the Soviet dictator himself.

The alleged assassination attempt unfolded in the early 1950’s, just as the Communist scare in the United States was starting to peak.

Sources reported that after one of his routine film viewings, Stalin suddenly decided that Wayne was a direct “threat to the cause and should be assassinated.”

American agents also took the threat seriously enough to offer Wayne protection, to which he replied: “I’m not gonna hide away for the rest of my life, this is the land of the free and that’s the way I’m gonna stay.”

According to Wayne’s stuntman and real-life cowboy Yakima Canutt, the FBI foiled at least one assassination attempt with the help of the Duke himself.yakima-canutt

After getting word that two KGB agents posing as FBI agents were going to come to the movie studio where Wayne was filming and lure him away, the FBI and the actors decided to outflank them. When the Soviets came into Wayne’s office as expected, the actual FBI agents were hidden in a room next door and were able to burst in and subdue them at gunpoint. The Soviets were so terrified of being sent back to Russia and reporting to Stalin they had failed, that they willingly agreed to provide intelligence to the Americans.

Later, in 1953, Wayne was filming “Hondo” in Mexico when yet another communist cell tried to assassinate him.

Hondo

The Soviet campaign was canceled after Stalin’s death in 1953 because his successor Nikita Khrushchev was a fan of the film star. In a biography written by Michael Munn it says Krushchev told Wayne in a private meeting in 1958: “That was a decision of Stalin during his last five mad years. When Stalin died, I rescinded that order.”

John and Joe

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Sources

Vintage News

All that is interesting

Mercury 7-Astronaut Group 1

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On April 9, 1959, NASA’s first administrator, Dr. Keith Glennan, announced the names of the agency’s first group of astronauts at a news conference in Washington, D.C. Now known as the “Original Seven,” they included three Naval aviators, M. Scott Carpenter, Walter M. Schirra Jr., and Alan B. Shepard Jr.; three Air Force pilots, L. Gordon Cooper Jr., Virgil I. (Gus) Grissom, and Donald K. (Deke) Slayton; along with Marine Corps aviator John H. Glenn Jr. This group photo of the original Mercury astronauts was taken in June 1963 at the Manned Spacecraft Center (MSC), now Johnson Space Center, in Houston, Texas. The astronauts are, left-to-right: Cooper, Schirra, Shepard, Grissom, Glenn, Slayton and Carpenter.

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Mercury represented NASA’s first human spaceflight program, with the aim to see if humans could function effectively in space for a few minutes or hours at a time.

Members of the group flew on all classes of NASA manned orbital spacecraft of the 20th century — Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, and the Space Shuttle. Gus Grissom died in 1967, in the Apollo 1 fire.

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The others all survived past retirement from service. John Glenn went on to become a U.S. senator and flew on the Shuttle 36 years later to become the oldest person to fly in space, age 77. He was the last living member of the Mercury 7 team when he died in 2016 at the age of 95.

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On Oct. 7, 1958, the space agency announced plans to launch humans into space. Project Mercury became NASA’s first major undertaking. The objectives of the program were simple by today’s standards, but required a major undertaking to place a human-rated spacecraft into orbit around Earth, observe the astronaut’s performance in such conditions and safely recover the astronaut and the spacecraft.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s decision that the military services could provide the pilots simplified the astronaut selection process. From a total of 508 service records screened in January 1959, 110 men were found to meet the minimum standards. This list of names included five Marines, 47 Naval aviators and 58 Air Force pilots.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower insisted that all candidates be test pilots. Because of the small space inside the Mercury spacecraft, candidates could be no taller than 5 feet 11 inches (180 cm) and weigh no more than 180 pounds (82 kg). Other requirements included an age under 40, a bachelor’s degree or the professional equivalent, 1,500 hours of flying time, and qualification to fly jet aircraft.

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NASA officials were pleased so many agreed to participate in the man-in-space project. At the introductory news conference, Shepard said that he was eager to participate as soon as he learned NASA was seeking pilots for spaceflight.

NASA introduced the astronauts in Washington on April 9, 1959. Although the agency viewed Project Mercury’s purpose as an experiment to determine whether humans could survive space travel, the seven men immediately became national heroes and were compared by Time magazine to “Columbus, Magellan, Daniel Boone, and the Wright brothers.”Two hundred reporters overflowed the room used for the announcement and alarmed the astronauts, who were unused to such a large audience.

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NASA

SpaceOrg.com

 

Ivan Ivanovich-Unsung Space “Hero”

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I know what you are thinking when you look at the picture”That looks like a dummy” and you would be right because  Ivan Ivanovich was a dummy. Weeks before Yuri Gagarin made a successful orbit of the Earth, a Soviet mannequin named Ivan Ivanovich (the Russian equivalent of John Doe) tested the dangers of spaceflight and reentry.

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Ivan Ivanovich’s first space exploration was on Korabl-Sputnik 4 on 9 March 1961, accompanied by a dog named Chernushka, various reptiles, and 80 mice and guinea pigs, some of which were placed inside his body.

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Ivan was ejected out of the capsule during re-entry and made a soft landing using a parachute. Chernushka was recovered unharmed inside the capsule.

To test the spacecraft’s communication systems, an automatic recording of a choir was placed in Ivanovich’s body – this way, any radio stations who heard the recording would understand it was not a real person. Ivan was also used to test the landing system upon return to Earth, when he was successfully ejected from the capsule and parachuted to the ground.

Because no human being had ever been to space, the test dummy was designed to test as many unknowns as possible on a real human form. And because the Korabl-Sputnik capsule he traveled on wasn’t designed to make a soft landing, Ivan’s trip tested a human passenger’s ability to bail from the capsule during descent and parachute safely to ground.

Ivan’s  second space exploration was aboard the , Korabl-Sputnik 5,  March 26 1961, was similar – he was again accompanied by a dog, Zvyozdochka, and other animals, he had a recording of a choir and also a recipe for cabbage soup to confuse any listeners inside him, and he safely returned to Earth.Ivan_ivanowich

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Who needs the Moon anyway- when the US wanted to nuke the Moon.

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Project A119 was the designated name by the US Air Force to detonate a nuclear bomb on the moon.

The project was called “A Study of Lunar Research Flights” aka ” Project A119 and was developed by the U.S. Air Force in the late 1950s.

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The aim was to intimidate the Soviet Union, who at that time were winning the space race, by seeing the nuclear flash from Earth.

The explosion would of course be best on the dark side of the moon for the best possible effect.

One of the leaders of the project, physicist Leonard Reiffel, figured  hitting the moon with an intercontinental ballistic missile would have been relatively easy to accomplish, including hitting the target with an accuracy of approximately two miles.  The accuracy would have been particularly important as the Air Force wanted the resulting explosion to be clearly visible from Earth.

The Soviet Union had successfully launched the Sputnik 1 on October 4th 1957, and the US was in need of some morale boost.

sputnik

Project A119 was cancelled though in 1959, for fears that a failed explosion on the moon might have might have adverse effects on Earth.

Thankfully the used a different approach by sending the first man to moon , a decade later,

Moon

 

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