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NEWS | June 24, 2022

Navy Reserve Assists with Airlift of Donations to Displaced Ukrainian Children

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Chelsea Milburn, Commander, Naval Air Force Reserve

Commander, Naval Air Force Reserve (CNAFR) Sailors assigned to the Navy Air Logistics Office (NALO) and the “Globemasters” of Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VR) 56 supported “Operation Little Vittles 2,” assisting with the airlift of 12,000 lbs of supplies bound for displaced Ukrainian children in Eastern Europe, Mar. 28-29.
Operation Little Vittles 2 was a grassroots humanitarian relief mission based in Salt Lake City, Utah, and coordinated by the Gail S. Halvorsen Foundation. The airlift was accomplished through the partnership of several private and non-profit organizations in the United States, Germany and Poland, as well as the office of Senator Mike Lee, NALO, VR-56, and the City of Berlin, Germany.
VR-56 flew from their homeport in Oceana, Virginia to Salt Lake City International Airport, where they loaded the 12,000 lbs of donations from local charities. They then flew the donations to Washington-Dulles International Airport where they transferred them to a German A-340 headed to Berlin.
A German charity group received the donations to transport them to Warsaw, Poland for distribution to Ukrainian refugees in need.
Lt. Cmdr. Ken Kaplan, assigned to NALO, both helped coordinate the Navy Reserve’s part in the airlift and flew the mission with VR-56.
“It felt great to be part of a mission that was contributing to such a worthy cause,” said Kaplan. “The entire VR-56 crew was excited and enthusiastic to be a part of this. It was amazing to see everyone come together to accomplish a common goal. Every time a new challenge presented itself in the planning stages, someone stepped up with a solution. From the charities, to the airport personnel, to the German Air Force, everyone was all in from the start.”
The mission’s namesake, the original Operation Little Vittles, was organized by U.S. Air Force Col. Gail S. Halvorsen as part of Operation Vittles, the Berlin Airlift in 1948-1949, which provided humanitarian aid to Germans during the Cold War soviet blockade of Berlin. After seeing German children’s reactions to being given candy, he began making regular drops of candy during the airlifts to lift their spirits during the blockade and became known as the “Candy Bomber.”
Operation Little Vittles 2 provided an opportunity to the Navy Reserve to have a part in continuing Halvorsen’s legacy and to the City of Berlin to pay his kindness forward to Ukrainian children affected by the war in Ukraine.
“Today, a collection of small things was gathered, packaged, and sent off to do big things: to give hope and comfort to women and children displaced by the ravages of war,” James Stewart, executive director of the Gail S. Halvorsen Foundation.
Commander, Naval Air Force Reserve mans, trains and equips the Naval Air Force Reserve in order to provide enduring operational support and strategic depth to Naval forces that win in combat.