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The "almost" candy bombers of Iraq

Master Sgts. Stephen Brown (right) and Emily Edmunds attach candy to container delivery system bundles filled with fresh drinking water on a C-17 Globemaster III in preparation for a humanitarian airdrop Aug. 30, 2014, over the area if Amirli, Iraq. The candy was collected by the squadron to supplement United States government humanitarian aid. Brown and Edmunds are 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron loadmasters. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Shawn Nickel)

Master Sgts. Stephen Brown (right) and Emily Edmunds attach candy to container delivery system bundles filled with fresh drinking water on a C-17 Globemaster III in preparation for a humanitarian airdrop Aug. 30, 2014, over the area if Amirli, Iraq. The candy was collected by the squadron to supplement United States government humanitarian aid. Brown and Edmunds are 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron loadmasters. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Shawn Nickel)

A teddy bear is tied to some humanitarian aid aboard a C-130 Hercules prior to take-off during an airdrop Aug. 14, 2014, over Iraq. The humanitarian aid includes bottled water and food which was delivered to displaced citizens in the vicinity of Sinjar, Iraq. The teddy bear was donated by an American child to pass along gratitude to children trapped in the Iraq conflict. The C-130 is assigned to the 746th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Vernon Young Jr.)

A teddy bear is tied to some humanitarian aid aboard a C-130 Hercules prior to take-off during an airdrop Aug. 14, 2014, over Iraq. The humanitarian aid includes bottled water and food which was delivered to displaced citizens in the vicinity of Sinjar, Iraq. The teddy bear was donated by an American child to pass along gratitude to children trapped in the Iraq conflict. The C-130 is assigned to the 746th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Vernon Young Jr.)

Master Sgts. Stephen Brown (left) and Emily Edmunds, 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron loadmasters, sort candy to attach to container delivery system bundles filled with fresh drinking water on a C-17 Globemaster III in preparation for a humanitarian airdrop  Aug. 30, 2014, over the area if Amirli, Iraq. The candy was collected by the squadron to supplement United States government humanitarian aid. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Shawn Nickel)

Master Sgts. Stephen Brown (left) and Emily Edmunds, 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron loadmasters, sort candy to attach to container delivery system bundles filled with fresh drinking water on a C-17 Globemaster III in preparation for a humanitarian airdrop Aug. 30, 2014, over the area if Amirli, Iraq. The candy was collected by the squadron to supplement United States government humanitarian aid. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Shawn Nickel)

U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND AREA OF RESPONSIBILITY (AFNS) -- 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."

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