A decorated World War II hero, pilot Chuck Childs went from bombing
the Germans during the war to risking his life to help them after it.
By Per Peterson
That’s all Chuck Childs needed to hear.
Amidst a post-World War II blockade in West Berlin in June 1948, Childs was one of a number of pilots charged with delivering life-saving supplies to Germans in war-torn Berlin. Russia’s Joseph Stalin, Childs said, planned to starve the Germans by cutting off all access — both land and water — to West Berlin. One result of that blockade was the two-year humanitarian Airlift mission that played a part in defeating Russia’s plan to rule Europe. The mission included 275,000 flights in 11 months and delivered more than 2 million tons of of supplies.
“The first time we landed, this great big German came up to me — just covered with coal dust — and he put his hand out and he said, ‘Danke Schön,’ Danke Schön,’ and he was just in tears,” Childs said in a recent interview in his apartment at O’Brien Court. “I knew then what I was doing there. They got to be pretty good friends with me. We all got cigarettes, and since I didn’t smoke, I’d give each one a package of cigarettes. That was gold to them.”
The irony of helping the Germans during that time in history is not lost on Childs, who flew a B-17 bomber in combat against the Nazis.
“Three years after I bombed Germany, I’m flying for the Germans against the Russians,” he said. “The (Germans) were our enemies, but all of a sudden I was helping them. But they were starving to death and freezing to death.”
For more on this article, see this week’s Headlight-Herald.