The "almost" candy bombers of Iraq

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Shawn Nickel
  • Air Forces Central Command Public Affairs
The U.S. government provided the container delivery system bundles and the military aircraft, but something just seemed to be missing on the airdrop packages. Master Sgt. Stephen Brown had something sweet for the kids in mind to make things just right.

Following in the footsteps of retired Col. Gail Halvorsen, the original Candy Bomber of World War II, Brown taped a package of Skittles to a bundle of Halal Meals Ready to Eat, which was delivered in an airdrop to displaced Iraqis in the vicinity of Sinjar Mountain in northern Iraq earlier this month.

"Although my favorite candy that doesn't melt in this desert heat is Starburst, I took what I had in my bag and just taped it to the side of the box," he said. "After that everyone started making the drops a little personal with more candy, and I even think I saw a teddy bear."

The acts of kindness were a slippery slope for the 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron aircrews, which have graduated from single packs of candy to garbage bags full of donated sweet treats for the most recent airdrops Aug. 31, in the area of Amirli, Iraq.

"We've been really impressed with the turn out and dedication of our wingmen," said Master Sgt. Emily Edmunds, the 816th EAS loadmaster superintendent. "We are definitely not at the level of the Candy Bomber, but I'd give us an 'almost' for our modern version of it."

Overall, two C-17 Globemaster IIIs and two C-130 Hercules dropped 10,545 gallons of water and 7,056 Halal Meals Ready to Eat in 109 bundles, and almost every one dropped with a little extra. Items Airmen received in care packages, bought themselves, and even were given just for the occasion have made this a big deal for the squadron, Brown said.

"I can just imagine being in the shoes of these parents down there. Not being able to provide much during a time of war would be heartbreaking," he said. "This could be something that will make a dire situation a little brighter even if it's just for a few moments."