From the archives: Bon Bon Bomber ‘hits’ 4 DP camps, 2 cities
Stars and Stripes September 26, 2023
This article first appeared in the Stars and Stripes Europe edition, Oct. 20, 1949. It is republished unedited in its original form.
WIESBADEN AIR BASE — Children get treat of chocolates, lemon drops; ‘Little Vittles’ bids kids goodbye from B17 Children reached up and pulled in tiny white parachutes. Attached to the parachutes were chocolate bars, boxes of lemon drops and other delicious things. It was “Operation Little Vittles” way of saying goodbye.
The B17 Bon Bon Bomber from this base passed over displaced persons camps at Ludwigsburg, Heilbronn, Schwabisch-Gmund and the orphanage at Bad Aibling Tuesday [Oct. 18, 1949]. Frankfurt and Darmstadt also were sweetened.
First Flight Postponed
In all, about 80,000 candy items were dripped. There were also some shmoos containing exactly 30 ounces of candy. There were no kigmies but the shmoos were especially nice. The candy in them was good.
Weather postponed the first phaseout flight Monday, so the children at DP camps waited and watched the sky. Tuesday, when the missions could be accomplished, International Refugee Organization officials reported happiness nonpareil. Sirens wailed at Bad Aibling. Police at Heilbronn climbed the roofs and trees to rescue the cargo. The 1,400 Polish children there waved little flags and sang their national anthem.
The children waited in the camp compounds. As the first parachutes began to plummet out of the B17, they began to run, jumping fences, leaping streams. Ground winds drove many of the ‘chutes a mile away from the “drop area.” They went after them.
The “schokoladen flieger” who organized the phase-out of “Operation Little Vittles” is Capt. Eugene T. Williams, assistant German Youth Activities officer, USAFE. He succeeded 1st Lt. Gale Halvorsen as entrepreneur of the parachute lollipop kingdom. Halvorsen originally founded “Little Vittles” for the children of Berlin.
Williams stood above the open bomb bay of the Bon Bon Bomber and dumped out the candy cargo as successive passes were made over the camps and cities.
“Last night while I was busy tying ‘chutes,” he said, “my house was broken into. They took my radio, but left a carton of schmoos. Shmoos are quite valuable, too.”
Over Frankfurt, 8th Air Force veteran 1st Lt. Garner E. Brown, 60th Tp Carier Sq. pilot of the Bon Bon Bomber, recalled other experiences with B17s.
“We were almost shot down here,” he said. “As it turned out we were forced to land in Belgium. This time it is more pleasant.”
The little white silk ‘chutes performed well. They were made by Wiesbaden airmen’s wives, Camp Lindsey officers’ wives, Erbenheim GYA girls, Wiesbaden American and German Girl Scouts, and Wiesbaden GYA girls.
New Prague, Minn., sponsored the drops on the DP camps, and Long Beach, Calif., sent Darmstadt its good wishes. Portland, Ore., brought cheer to Frankfurt.
This week, weather permitting, “Little Vittles” will make drops at Kassel, sponsored by Milwaukee; at Bremen, sponsored by Wichita; Hanover, sponsored by Cleveland, and Hamburg by the Hillside, N.J., “Little Vittles Club.”
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Help us name the crew of the last Bon Bon Bomber flight! No identifying information survived and we would love to be able to attach a name to each of the faces. We have tentatively identified Capt. Eugene T. Williams, U.S. Air Force assistant German Youth Activities officer, to be third from left. We have no idea who the others are but assume that they all participated in some form in the last so-called Candy Bomber flight on Oct. 18, 1949, flying out of Wiesbaden Air Base. 8th Air Force veteran 1st Lt. Garner E. Brown, of the 60th Troop Carrier Squadron and named in the article as the pilot is likely pictured. Do you know him? Can you identify any of the others? Let Stars and Stripes’ archive staff know at email@example.com