We are honored to have the support of Ukrainian activists, emergency, and military personnel.
Below, we share some of the personal messages we've received from a few of the extraordinary people supporting our cause.
112th Territorial Defense Brigade #ukrainewar
Bill Daniels, founder of Fight Back For Ukraine #standwithukraine
War in Ukraine #ukrainewar
Ukrainian Emergency Services Rescuer - Tara's Polishchuk #ukrainewar
The Raisin Bombers & helping Ukraine
by Hersch Wilson
It was 1948, after World War II (or for Russians, the end of The Great Patriotic War).
Berlin had been leveled by massive bombing, artillery, and house-to-house fighting primarily by Russian troops. After Germany's surrender, it was a humanitarian disaster. Infant mortality reached almost 90% (MacDonogh, Giles (2009). After the Reich: The Brutal History of the Allied Occupation.)
There was starvation, homelessness, and, as you can imagine, not a lot of sympathy. (20 million Russians were killed during the war, including 4 million Ukrainians) Defeated Germany was divided into occupation zones. Berlin was also divided into West and East (even though it was deep inside Russian-controlled East Germany. After 1946, there was growing anxiety about the USSR. They wanted control over Eastern Europe for revenge, for a buffer against the West, and to build a Communist hegemony. This rising tension ultimately led to the Soviets blockading Berlin on June 24th, 1948.
Here is where our story begins.
Berlin was cut off from basic supplies, including food, medicine, and coal. In response, the Western Allies began the Berlin Airlift. This was one of the most significant logistical efforts of the 20th century. Until September 30th, 1949, American and British pilots flew over 250,000 missions into Berlin. At the height of the effort, planes were landing every 45 seconds. The American operation was called "Operation Vittles."But inside the operation, another drama was playing out. An American pilot, Gail Halvorsen (he passed away in February of this year), noted that German children were standing and watching planes land at Tempelhof, the airport in Western Berlin. One day, he talked to them and noted that they were thin and ragged and had nothing. Lt Halvorsen told the children that he would drop candy to them on his next flight. And, because he was afraid that the candy would be heavy and dangerous falling out of a C-54, he made tiny parachutes out of handkerchiefs. He waggled the wings of his plane as it made its approach to the airport to let the kids know it was him. This went on for three weeks, and then the idea took off in his entire squadron. It was written up in the news in the United States. And all of a sudden, children and candy makers from all over the US were donating candy and handkerchiefs. Operation "Little Vittles" flew until May 1949. The American pilots were known in Germany as the "Raisin Bombers." Twenty-three tons of candy were dropped, guided to the ground by 250,000 tiny parachutes. This story is remarkable in many ways.
First, the generosity and idealism of the Americans. The country turned on a dime from hating the Germans to supporting them in what was a dark hour. (in 1963, only 18 years after the end of the war, JFK would go to West Berlin and famously say, "Ich bin ein Berliner." "I am also a Berliner")
Next, it was another display of American unity. After the deprivations, sacrifices, and horror of the war, a war that brought Americans together (mostly), it was another demonstration of what we could do when we came together. Finally, sending candy and handkerchiefs was tangible. Unlike buying war bonds, you could imagine the direct effect of candy in your hands ending up in the hands of a starving kid in Berlin. Ask anyone. If they can tangibly help someone, most individuals will give aid if they can immediately see an effect. They will send candy and handkerchiefs. The more abstract the problem is, the more diffuse the request for help is, the harder it often is for us to feel the need to help or feel the urgency. (even though the urgency of problems that press on us seem always to exist)
This brings us to Ukraine. Our group, FightbackforUkraine.com is a small team focused on delivering equipment to specific units based on their requests; civilian drones, trauma kits, metal detectors, and night vision scopes. Our government and NATO are providing the big items, but individual soldiers and units need urgent aid to help them survive the battlefield. Like the "candy" organizers, we had attempted with my ex-Fire Department to assemble trauma packs as a team and send them to Ukraine. But customs and tariffs in Europe throttled that idea. (ah, Bureaucracy, even during a war.)
So we depend on donations, small and large, from the United States and some European countries to help us raise funds to buy the equipment "over there."
Final notes. I know we live in fractious times. We are as divided as a nation more than at any time since 1968.
And I believe at our core, like the "raisin-bombers" and the thousands of individuals who supported them, we are appalled that suffering is happening, this time caused by Russia's invasion of Ukraine. And we understand that we have a role to play even on the international stage.
In each of us exists that cynical voice that says we can't as an individual make a difference. And that often feels true. I'm sure that some questioned the "candy and parachutes" effort. But now we have the opportunity to put tools in the hands of individual civilian soldiers to help them live, to help them win this awful war. One trauma kit could save a soldier. One drone could prevent an ambush.
We need your help. We want you to look back at this time and be able to say, "I made a difference!"