Roswitha Barry, child of the Berlin Airlift times and a guest at the mural unveiling ceremony on Clay Kaserne June 22, remembered lacking even the most essential goods in Berlin. Back then, “we ate wallpaper and books,” she said, “and mud cakes, made from dirt and water in the garden.” The whole family had to sleep in one single bed, she said, and it was so cold during that winter; they cut up the furniture to heat the room. Barry’s mother was a musician, and she cut up her piano to warm the room.
The time when the Soviet Union blockaded West Berlin was hard for the Berliners. However, the Allies did their best to ensure supplies and keep the freedom of West Berlin.
“We gather to remember the sacrifices of the thousands of men and women who took part – and in some cases gave their lives – to support the City of Berlin,” said Col. Todd J. Fish, then-U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden commander, during the ceremony dedicating two projects in commemoration of the greatest humanitarian airlift in history.
Several special guests attended the ceremony, among them were Barry and other contemporary witnesses. Denise Halvorsen-Williams and Marilyn Halvorsen-Sorensen were present, as well. They are the daughters of retired U.S. Air Force Col. Gail Halvorsen, who was known as the “Candy Bomber” during the airlift.
“We have two projects here today that we would like to dedicate in memory of those involved in the airlift,” Fish said, referring to the mural that was to be unveiled during the ceremony and the Berlin Airlift Aircrews Memorial recently finished on the roundabout near Newman Village.
“This project tightly parallels the German-American cooperation, and achievements of the airlift,” said retired Master Sgt. Martin Cervantez, the lead artist of the mural. “I had a vision, but I needed the talent and skills of a German artist,” recognizing German graffiti artist Fabio Stenzel who did great parts of the painting.
The Berlin Airlift Aircrews Memorial was an initiative of Fish.
“Last year, while walking through Crestview Housing, I noticed this green-tinged, aged weather vane sitting on top of one of the barracks. I later learned this building housed the pilots and crews that flew during the airlift,” he said. “I couldn’t get the image out of my head, so I asked our Directorate of Public Works to use it as a centerpiece for a monument to the aircrews who gave their lives during the airlift.”