Mayday: The Marines need Tootsie Rolls

Ken Santor holds a bag of Tootsie Rolls after Jon Yuspa, right, executive director of Honor Flight Nevada, surprised the Korean War veteran and persuaded him to tell the story of the password Tootsie Roll.

Ken Santor holds a bag of Tootsie Rolls after Jon Yuspa, right, executive director of Honor Flight Nevada, surprised the Korean War veteran and persuaded him to tell the story of the password Tootsie Roll.

Marines crawled on their bellies for Tootsie Rolls.

Marine veteran Ken Santor said during the early years of the Korean War, a mortar company hunkered down near Chosin Reservoir ran out of ordnance.

The Marines requisitioned more ammo, but they needed to relay their secret code or password via radio to headquarters in Tokyo.

“Tootsie Roll. Tootsie Roll,” came the request with the password. “Bring Tootsie Rolls.”

A young Marine in Tokyo heard the request, and according to Santor, he was “on it.”

A cargo plane left Japan with its requested cargo and headed toward the Marines’ position in North Korea. As the plane flew over the Marines, it showered a load of Tootsie Rolls on the mortar company.

The airdrop surprised the Marines on the ground.

Santor said the candy gave Marines some strength, though, after they ate the Tootsie Rolls.

“You could follow the Marines looking at the wrappers,” Santor laughed.

Honor Flight Nevada Executive Director Jon Yuspa contacted the Tootsie Rolls Industries in Chicago and told them the story. The company responded.

“We are proud of our long and close relationship with the military. Our connection to the Chosin Few is special and unique.

“We enjoyed hearing about Mr. Santor and his experience with Tootsie Rolls. We would, of course, love to learn more and are looking forward to receiving the video of his story.

“In the meantime, we are enclosing a bag of Tootsie Rolls for each of the veterans.”

Yuspa handed out the Tootsie Rolls to the veterans and guardians at the Iwo Jima memorial at Marine Corps Base Hawaii at Kaneohe Bay.

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