Allies gather, commemorate Berlin Airlift 70th Anniversary

Denise Halvorsen-Williams, left, and Marilyn Halvorsen-Sorenson, daughters of Ret. Col. Gail S. Halvorsen, known as the Candy Bomber, speak with U.S. Air Force Col. Tad D. Clark, 52nd Fighter Wing vice commander, and U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Shannon Caleb, commander of the 726th Air Mobility Squadron, both from Spangdahlem Air Base, at the Berlin Airlift 70th anniversary commemoration at Frankfurt International Airport, Germany, June 26, 2018. The Candy Bomber played a major role during the historic event by dropping 23 tons of candy to children. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Valerie Seelye)

U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. John B. Williams, U.S. Air Forces Europe - Air Forces Africa mobilization assistant to the commander, based out of Ramstein Air Base, speaks at the Berlin Airlift commemoration at Frankfurt International Airport, Germany, June 26, 2018. The ceremony marked the 70th anniversary of the historic event, which began in 1948. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Valerie Seelye)

Denise Halvorsen-Williams, left, and Marilyn Halvorsen-Sorenson, daughters of Ret. Col. Gail S. Halvorsen, known as the Candy Bomber, speak with U.S. Air Force Col. Tad D. Clark, 52nd Fighter Wing vice commander, and U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Shannon Caleb, commander of the 726th Air Mobility Squadron, both from Spangdahlem Air Base, at the Berlin Airlift 70th anniversary commemoration at Frankfurt International Airport, Germany, June 26, 2018. The Candy Bomber played a major role during the historic event by dropping 23 tons of candy to children. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Valerie Seelye)

Members of the U.S. Air Forces in Europe Bands Ambassadors Jazz Ensemble perform in honor of the Berlin Airlift 70th anniversary commemoration at Frankfurt International Airport, Germany, June 26, 2018. The pinks and greens World War II era uniform were worn in honor of the historic event. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Valerie Seelye)

Denise Halvorsen-Williams, left, and Marilyn Halvorsen-Sorenson, daughters of Ret. Col. Gail S. Halvorsen, known as the Candy Bomber, speak with U.S. Air Force Col. Tad D. Clark, 52nd Fighter Wing vice commander, and U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Shannon Caleb, commander of the 726th Air Mobility Squadron, both from Spangdahlem Air Base, at the Berlin Airlift 70th anniversary commemoration at Frankfurt International Airport, Germany, June 26, 2018. The Candy Bomber played a major role during the historic event by dropping 23 tons of candy to children. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Valerie Seelye)

Members of the Ramstein Air Base Honor Guard lay wreathes at the Berlin Airlift 70th anniversary commemoration at Frankfurt International Airport, Germany, June 26, 2018. The laying of the wreaths memorialized those who were killed during the 1948 mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Valerie Seelye)

Denise Halvorsen-Williams, left, and Marilyn Halvorsen-Sorenson, daughters of Ret. Col. Gail S. Halvorsen, known as the Candy Bomber, speak with U.S. Air Force Col. Tad D. Clark, 52nd Fighter Wing vice commander, and U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Shannon Caleb, commander of the 726th Air Mobility Squadron, both from Spangdahlem Air Base, at the Berlin Airlift 70th anniversary commemoration at Frankfurt International Airport, Germany, June 26, 2018. The Candy Bomber played a major role during the historic event by dropping 23 tons of candy to children. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Valerie Seelye)

Denise Halvorsen-Williams, left, and Marilyn Halvorsen-Sorenson, daughters of Ret. Col. Gail S. Halvorsen, known as the Candy Bomber, speak with U.S. Air Force Col. Tad D. Clark, 52nd Fighter Wing vice commander, and U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Shannon Caleb, commander of the 726th Air Mobility Squadron, both from Spangdahlem Air Base, at the Berlin Airlift 70th anniversary commemoration at Frankfurt International Airport, Germany, June 26, 2018. The Candy Bomber played a major role during the historic event by dropping 23 tons of candy to children. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Valerie Seelye)

Denise Halvorsen-Williams, left, and Marilyn Halvorsen-Sorenson, daughters of Ret. Col. Gail S. Halvorsen, known as the Candy Bomber, speak with U.S. Air Force Col. Tad D. Clark, 52nd Fighter Wing vice commander, and U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Shannon Caleb, commander of the 726th Air Mobility Squadron, both from Spangdahlem Air Base, at the Berlin Airlift 70th anniversary commemoration at Frankfurt International Airport, Germany, June 26, 2018. The Candy Bomber played a major role during the historic event by dropping 23 tons of candy to children. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Valerie Seelye)

U.S. Air Force Col. Tad Clark, 52nd Fighter Wing vice commander, Chief Master Sgt. Alvin Dyer, 52nd FW command chief and members of Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, attend the Berlin Airlift 70th anniversary commemoration at Frankfurt International Airport, Germany, June 26, 2018. The ceremony was held in remembrance of the Allied Air Forces who delivered more than two million tons of food and supplies to the Soviet-blockaded citizens of Berlin. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Valerie Seelye)

Denise Halvorsen-Williams, left, and Marilyn Halvorsen-Sorenson, daughters of Ret. Col. Gail S. Halvorsen, known as the Candy Bomber, speak with U.S. Air Force Col. Tad D. Clark, 52nd Fighter Wing vice commander, and U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Shannon Caleb, commander of the 726th Air Mobility Squadron, both from Spangdahlem Air Base, at the Berlin Airlift 70th anniversary commemoration at Frankfurt International Airport, Germany, June 26, 2018. The Candy Bomber played a major role during the historic event by dropping 23 tons of candy to children. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Valerie Seelye)

U.S. Air Force Col. James D. Brantingham, U.S. Air Forces in Europe - Air Forces Africa command chaplain, based out of Ramstein Air Base, speaks at the Berlin Airlift 70th anniversary commemoration at Frankfurt International Airport, Germany, June 26, 2018. Brantingham led the audience in prayer for those affected by the event. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Valerie Seelye)

FRANKFURT INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, Germany --

American, German, British and French citizens gathered at the former Rhein-Main Air Base to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Berlin Airlift.

The commemoration paid tribute to the 101 service members who lost their lives during the humanitarian mission, which lasted from June 26, 1948 to September 30, 1949, and emphasized the ongoing need for international partnership and friendship.

“The Berlin Airlift has always been a symbol,” said Hessen Minister President Volker Bouffier. “The Berlin Airlift is a compass for the future. It was a victory of freedom over dictatorship.”

The commemoration also included performances from the U.S. Air Forces in Europe Bands Ambassadors Jazz Ensemble, who performed popular music from the 1940s. As the band played, speakers throughout the ceremony talked about the sacrifices and contributions of U.S. and allied forces during the Soviet blockade of Berlin.

Frankfurt Mayor Uwe Becker said the airlift was an important milestone in the building of a new and democratic Germany, and ultimately in the reunification of the nation four decades later.

One of the most notable figures of the Berlin Airlift, Ret. Col. Gail Halvorsen, was unable to attend due to his health. Representing him were his daughters Denise Halvorsen-Williams and Marilyn Halvorsen-Sorenson. His daughters shared recounts of their father’s memories from the year-long mission. Halvorsen, also known as the Candy Bomber, is most famous for initiating the delivery of chocolate and other treats to the children affected by the Berlin blockade.

They quoted their father saying, “We were working to feed the two-and-a-half million people of Berlin and to keep them free. But it was the children who taught me the purpose of the airlift.”

“The men and women of the U.S. Air Forces in Europe will continue to carry on Halvorsen’s and the Berlin Airlift’s legacies,” said Maj. Gen. John B. Williams, U.S. Air Forces in Europe – Air Forces Africa mobilization assistant to the commander, based out of Ramstein Air Base, Germany.

The commemoration concluded as members of the Ramstein Air Base Honor Guard and Frankfurt Polizei laid wreaths in front of the Berlin Airlift Memorial while the band played the German and U.S. national anthems.

“The heroes of the airlift came from so many countries, but they all shared the same goal,” said U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell. “Even today our shared commitment is still the same, that peace and stability may be the cornerstone of our shared partnerships and friendships.”