One of the ‘children behind the wire’ reminisces on the ‘Berlin Candy Bomber,’ 74 years later

MANNFORD, Okla. — Tami Teeters is now 81-years-old and lives in Mannford, Okla. with her husband Ernest Teeters, a U.S. Vietnam Veteran.

Tami says she was born in Berlin in 1940.

In 1948 Tami was barely eight. She vividly recalls the images of the Holocaust and the war that shook her childhood.

“Wartime, it wasn’t very nice. Bombs falling, ammunition flying, people dying, terrible. No food, now water. People screaming, it’s total chaos,” said Tami. “Cold, hungry. But, you didn’t know any different. You thought that was normal,” describes Tami.

She states that it was the Americans that saved them at that time by bringing them candy, food, clothing, immunizations and hope.

In 1948, Colonel Gail Halvorsen, also known as “Berlin’s Candy Bomber,” was one of the American WWII pilots, behind “Operation Little Vittles,” where an estimated 23 tons of candy were dropped for the children in Berlin from airplanes.

Colonel Halvorsen passed away on Feb. 17, 2022 at age 101.

According to the Gail S. Halvorsen’s Foundation, Halvorsen described the experience saying, “As I look back at “Operation Little Vittles’ and the years that have followed there is one human characteristic above all others that gave it birth… the silent gratitude of the children at a barbed wire fence in Berlin, July 1948.”

Tami states she was one of the children behind the wire.

“[Halvorsen] sent us some parachutes from the airplanes with candy, and we thought that was the best thing that ever happened,” said Tami. “We saw him come in on an airplane landing. And he wiggled his wings, so we know it was him. All of us hanging on the fences and we are happy to see him. And he came out at times and you got to meet him and he handed us the candy.”

Halvorson also reminisced about what he remembered, “One day in July 1948 I met 30 kids at the barbed wire fence at Tempelhof in Berlin. They were so excited. All I had was two sticks of gum. I broke them in two and passed them through the barbed wire. The result was unbelievable. Those with the gum tore off strips of the wrapper and gave them to the others. Those with the strips put them to their noses and smelled the tiny fragrance. The expression of pleasure was unmeasurable.”

Tami says from what she can remember, the candy was Hershey candy bars and bubble gum.

“The bubble gum smelt like Bengay,” said Tami laughing. “The bubble gum was something else, but we thought it was just awesome.”

Tami describes seeing the small parachutes falling from the airplane. It was like a treasure hunt. The little parachutes would have candy in them and a number. And then you would pick up food from the Armed Forces.

After the Second World War ended, the Germans were reportedly deprived of food and supplies.

Tami said they received powdered milk, sweet potatoes and bread.

“We put the bread in water and it swelled up three times in your mouth,” said Tami.

Tami will not forget the American pilot and what Halvorsen represented to her.

“He was a handsome guy, he was a knight in shining armor. He was a hero. We didn’t know what a decent person looked like. He was American. He was good. That was the cat’s meow. The candy, it represented freedom or some kind of normalcy. It told us there is another side of life, like kindness. If times get bad here, I can go back to that and it won’t bother me a bit. He was just the brightest light we had in those times,” shared Tami.

RELATED: Colonel Gail Halvorsen, known as the ‘Berlin Candy Bomber,’ dies at 101