By SARAH ALLMAN
With so much chaos
and excitement that surrounds the holidays, it can often be hard to
stop and enjoy the peace and joy which the holiday season promises to
bring. Inevitable, also, are the distractions of doing all of the
holiday shopping, getting the house in order for guests, and making
time to see family and friends. It is all too easy to not only forget
to enjoy the freedom we have as Americans, but also to forget at what
cost it comes. The Buxton British Cemetery is a small reminder not only
of the cost of freedom, but also the hope for future generations to
It is for this reason
that Gail Halverson, the infamous “Candy Bomber,” was interested in
viewing the cemetery and honoring these fallen British soldiers in a
short ceremony last Saturday.
Toward the end of World
War II, the Soviet Union had completely blocked access to the
western-controlled areas of Berlin. U.S. pilots were soon sent in to
deliver supplies to these isolated sectors in an operation which
ultimately lasted 462 days, and which is now known as the Berlin
It was during this time that Lieutenant Gail
Halverson, unauthorized by his superiors, dropped more than 23 tons of
candy to German children and lovingly became known as the “Candy
Bomber.” It is because of his brave operations that Halverson is
credited with having a large and positive impact on postwar
Halverson was interested in visiting the cemetery
which is the resting place of two fallen British soldiers who also
fought in World War II. Halverson had planned to lay a wreath on the
graves this year in conjunction with a tradition of the Coast Guard
auxiliary to celebrate these men who died defending the East Coast.
Unfortunately, he was unable to attend the ceremony at the last minute
because of a health complication requiring emergency surgery.
However, the ceremony went on in Halverson’s honor.
The ceremony was short in Halverson’s absence,
and proceeded with the laying on of the wreath, a short moment of
silence, and the taking of photographs. Additionally, there was the
presentation of a book with pictures from the burial service and a
history of the bodies which were found on the beach in 1942 after a
German U-boat attacked and sunk the British Royal Navy’s San Delfino.
Several active-duty as well as retired members of
the USCG were in attendance, and Karin Edmond, who was one of the
original children being candy bombed during the Berlin Airlift,
provided the wreath.
Guests in attendance were invited back to the
coast guard station afterwards for a lunch. Though Halverson could not
be there, his presence was certainly missed.
“Everybody stepped in for Halverson,” County
Commissioner Danny Couch said about Saturday’s ceremony. “They did it
in his honor.”
The cemetery is collectively maintained by four
different groups: the Hatteras Island Historical Society, the Graveyard
of the Atlantic Museum, the United States Coast Guard, and the National
The gravestones of the soldiers were provided by
the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, established in 1917, which
requires governments around the world to mark and maintain the graves
of soldiers lost in war, no matter where they are found. British flags,
sea shells, decorated rocks, and coins decorate the headstones as a
symbol of good wishes.
Halverson’s heroic deeds and the sacrifice of the
two British soldiers, one of whom is unknown, is definitely something
to be honored. And while Halverson was unable to attend the ceremony,
the spirit of the season was certainly present.