Gail Halvorsen

Dear Film Team and Friends,

had a good flight back. Great seats. Perfect connections times. Pulled up the covers 26 hours after I kicked them off in Berlin. Still aglow from the incredible trip down memory lane.

You may imagine the flood of images from sitting on the end of the old runway last week where the women were administering first aid to the pierced steel plank sections covering the grass in 1948 until the new runway was built. The very spot where we dropped the first parachutes. When Mayor, chaplain, Mike Doyle pulled off my blind fold to reveal the assembly of Berlin Kids from 1948. My head was pounding! It brought back those hard but good times and made them alive with their old letters, hugs and even some 1948 parachutes. The sight was overpowering. The end of the old runway was insight behind that wonderful group!!! What a reunion! And the hours and days of filming after that. Then wrapping up the project sitting with the team on the very spot where in 1948-49 I had landed a hundred times before! Right on the end of the „new runway“, 27L, looking back at the glide path between the buildings. Could almost hear the roar of engines and the Radar Ground Control Approach controller’s steady calm voice, „You are on the center line, approaching the glide path, begin your standard rate of decent, (throttles came back) you are on the glide path, on the center line, you are over the end of the runway, take over visually and land.“ About that time we would see the red light on the top of the bombed out apartment house. Now, 14 May 2012, we were looking at that same building, only 300 yards away in its present restored beauty. We were sitting on that same spot on therunway that in 1948-49 meant we had just successfully arrived with another 20,000 pounds of flour, to be greeted by the moist eyes of the former enemy with, „Thank you for our freedom! Thank you for our freedom!“ Who wouldn’t fly without complaint, in spite of regrettably loosing our comrades to crashes. And now on this spot we would have to stop filming for a biker, roller blade skater or a German mother as she pushed her baby carriage over the runway out of the camera’s view. No wonder I had to swallow a time or two before continuing the interview!

I remember on one flight to Berlin in 1948 I had Hugh Downs the famous broadcaster (CBS), who I believe, is still alive. He had a big box which was the first portable voice recorder I ever saw. Then to compare your equipment, cameras, recorders, cell phones. IMAX images, not my 8MM turn, over shoot the other half, film rolls. Hugh was interviewing me John Pickering on the way thorough the corridor to Berlin. I remember Tom Broackaw (sp) and an interview in Tempelhof in 1998 but these and others have been replaced by the symphony of your great team as a media highlight. Every one played their role right on pitch! I knew you all were good from the other shoots but I didn’t know how good until those hours and days on Tempelhof, 2012. It has been an incredible journey for me. Grateful for the many hours you spent away from your families to make it possible. Hope you all have a safe trip home and find things well as I have.

Blair and Jeff please give the team my deepest gratitude and commendation for how each one did so much to make this event possible, and the related ones at other divers places. Including the time in Arizona, Lorraine really enjoyed you there. I will never forget, not just for me, but for my family, the memories your film will preserve for them when I am long gone.

You all get an Oscar in each of your categories of excellence. The care and feeding for an old farm boy couldn’t have been better nor the thermals more welcome! The transportation made many things possible especially church on Sunday and the several visits to Charlie in the hospital. That meant a lot.

Now I will start to unpack.
Gail and Lorraine

 

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