In June, 1948, Russia laid siege to the city of Berlin, prohibiting the flow of food and supplies on the highways leading into the city. More than two million people were faced with starvation and economic collapse. The Americans, English and French began a massive airlift to bring sustenance to the city and to thwart the Russian siege. Gail Halvorsen was one of hundreds of U.S. pilots transferred to Germany to assist in the operation. While in Berlin, he encountered a group of young children standing by the airport watching the incoming planes. He talked with them and was impressed with their conduct and attitude. Though they hadn't asked for candy, he was impressed to share with them the two sticks of gum he had in his possession. Seeing how thrilled they were with this gesture, he promised to drop some more candy to them the next time he flew to the area.
True to this word, the next day when he flew in he wiggled the wings of the plane to identify himself, then dropped several small bundles of candy, using parachutes made from handkerchiefs to slow their fall. The process was repeated on several succeeding flights. [From the book jacket]