‘It has been a fantastic life’

By on October 19, 2020

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Celebrating with the Candy Bomber on his 100th birthday

As told to Katherine Irby by Karin Edmond

The lives of Karin Edmond and “Candy Bomber” Gail Halvorsen became inextricably intertwined nearly three-quarters of a century ago when Halvorsen, a U.S. pilot, began dropping candy out of his plane to a group of hungry German children during the post-World War II Berlin Airlift. Edmond, a child in Berlin at the time, was one of the beneficiaries of that singular kindness.

Years afterward, many Dare County residents have come to plan their family events around the re-enactment of the candy drop that has occurred here annually since 1999. That initial visit by the Berlin Airlift Historical Foundation to Manteo was when Halvorsen and Karin, a long-time Dare County resident, re-connected.

Karin knew exactly who he was when she saw him.  She went straight up to him and told him that she was one of the children in war-time Berlin! They have stayed in touch (practically every day) and Karin took over the process of getting the Candy Bomber and his crew to the Outer Banks since 2003 for the candy drop, working tirelessly in that effort.

Fast forward to this year. In the wake of COVID-19, a couple from Pinehurst NC who knew of Karin’s efforts to keep the Candy Bomber coming to North Carolina, was unable to move forward with their annual vacation plans. So they decided to generously gift Karin airline tickets to Salt Lake City for the Colonel’s 100th birthday, which was held on Oct. 10.

On Friday, Oct. 9, Karin took off from Norfolk for the trip of a lifetime. Upon arrival in Salt Lake City, she was greeted by family and shuttled off to Halvorsen’s house. Like a stealth spy, she surprised the Colonel, who exclaimed: “Sunshine! I did not know you were coming!” He was so very excited to see his friend.

That evening at dinner, Karin presented Halvorsen with over 300 birthday cards from the fans and friends of Dare County. In addition, he beamed with joy over the special card Karin made for him.

Saturday morning began with a reception to honor the Colonel’s milestone birthday with many dignitaries, news crews, spectators, ballroom dancing, singing children, a helicopter candy drop, and cake — lots of cake!!

The evening featured a tremendous meal and a big police-escorted parade (drive-by due to COVID) complete with bagpipe players. After the news crews dissipated, an evening sit-down dinner was enjoyed by family and friends.

“It has been a fantastic life,” said Karin.

The Colonel’s family wishes to express their many thanks for the fabulous birthday greetings as Karin would like to thank all of her sponsors that afforded her the opportunity to spend a very special birthday with a very special man.  His parting words to Karin were, “See you next year!”

Postscript: The “Spirit of Freedom” plane that has made the Dare County candy drops was damaged in a tornado that struck this past April in Charlotte. Tim Chopp, President of the Berlin Airlift Historical Foundation, relayed the news that once the new C-47 has been fully restored, Manteo will be the first stop for a candy drop! For more information visit: www.spiritoffreedom.org.

See what people are saying:

  • Just a mom

    The things we take for granted…
    This is a beautiful story about a beautiful life and how acts of kindness are priceless. Thank you for sharing!

    Thursday, Oct 22 @ 8:59 am