SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Utah native Col. Gail S. “Hal” Halvorsen, also famously known as the Berlin “Candy Bomber,” has died at the age of 101.
Halverson was a U.S. Air Force pilot who served during World War II in Berlin.
During a time when over two million German citizens were cut off from food supplies, Halverson began dropping parachutes filled with candy from his plane, raising the spirits of war-torn children in the area.
He named his candy-dropping venture “Operation Vittles” and inspired a movement from other American pilots to follow suit. It’s estimated Halverson and company dropped over 250,000 parachutes, totaling around 23 tons of candy to the children of Berlin.
Governor Spencer Cox responded to the news saying:
“I will miss my friend. A beautiful reminder that kindness and goodness can win, even in the most trying times.”
The German Embassy honored him by saying:
“German President Steinmeier once wrote that Colonel Halvorsen, “built a bridge of humanity and compassion” between Americans and Berliners. Halvorsen always brought his smile anywhere he went, including when he visited @GermanAmbUSA in 2019. He will be missed.”
Hill Air Force Base released a statement saying:
“We are saddened to hear about the passing of Retired Col. Gail S. Halvorsen, or more prominently known as the “Candy Bomber.” He was beloved by many and left a lasting impression on all those he came across. His legacy extended beyond his military service as Col. Halvorsen impacted countless lives sharing his love of learning, aviation and his principles of “service before self, attitude, gratitude, and that the little things add up to big things. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Halvorsen family and all those who are mourning his loss. Col. Halvorsen was a national treasure. We will remember him for his sacrifices and honor him for what he’s done.”
In Dec. 2021, a bill sponsored by Utah legislators was passed to rename the Provo Vet Center in honor of Halvorsen.
Senator Mitt Romney was one of several lawmakers behind the bill saying:
“Col. Gail S. Halvorsen was a force for good and a beacon of hope for many in the aftermath of the Second World War,” said Senator Romney. “What began as a gesture of compassion quickly grew into an official U.S. Air Force operation as he and his fellow pilots dropped candy rations from their planes to the children of West Berlin. Gail is an American hero who exemplifies the best of humanity and embodies our state’s kindness and spirit of service, and it is only fitting that we rename the Provo Vet Center in his honor.”