‘Candy Bomber’ Gail Halvorsen passes away at age 101

Feb 17, 2022, 6:56 AM | Updated: 7:31 am
Col. Gail Halvorsen, also known as the "Candy Bomber." (KSL-TV)...
Col. Gail Halvorsen, also known as the "Candy Bomber." (KSL-TV)

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s Col. Gail Halvorsen, known as the Berlin “Candy Bomber,” has died at the age of 101.

The Gail S. Halvorsen Aviation Education Foundation said Halvorsen died Wednesday evening at Utah Valley Hospital after a brief illness, surrounded by most of his children.

Halvorsen is known as the candy bomber for dropping treats to children during the Berlin airlift after World War II — something that helped improve U.S. relations and brought hope to West Berlin.

“It gave me hope,” said Regine Lovely, who grew up in Berlin. “And hope is probably the best thing he could have given us at the time.”

Halvorsen celebrated his 100th birthday in October 2020 with a vehicle parade and residents in Tremonton honored him with a mural.

“The people of this area are very proud to have him from here, and to have that be a part of their legacy,” said Arts Council Chair Leisl Sorensen.

In December, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed a bill to rename Provo’s veteran center in honor of Halvorsen.

Sen. Mike Lee sponsored the bill, which was co-sponsored by Utah’s entire Congressional delegation. 

There are few Americans who inspire the spirit of humanitarian and community service quite like Col. Gail Halverson,” Lee said. “Col. Halverson represents the best of Utah and the best values of the U.S. Armed Forces.”

“Colonel Halvorsen brought joy to children living in deplorable conditions. His sense of humanity and kindness brightened our world and he will be deeply missed,” Rep. John Curtis tweeted Thursday.

Born in Salt Lake City in 1920, Halvorsen grew up on small farms in Idaho and Utah. In 1948, Halvorsen was one of the pilots in the U.S. airlift that saved 2 million Germans from starvation as the Soviet Union blockaded West Berlin in an attempt to take it from the Allies. Halvorsen flew planeload after planeload of flour and coal.

“They could have a flight unloaded in about 10 minutes and we’d be on our way to get another load,” Halvorsen said.

But it was a meeting at the fence with German children that changed his life.

“I turn to leave, and a voice came to me clear as a bell, I’m sure it was the Holy Ghost. Says, ‘Go back to the fence.’ It was a command.”

He did and pulled out two sticks of gum. Instead of fighting over it, he says, they shared it and then he got the idea to drop his candy bar rations, by tiny parachutes that he made, on his next flight, wiggling his wings.

“People are people,” Halvorsen said. “I don’t care where the border is, whether it’s East Germany or West Germany — people are the same, have the same needs.”

This is a breaking story. It will be updated as new information becomes available.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

Erin Cox

Faith leaders: Abortion conversation has changed, not religious stances

KSL's Erin Cox spoke one-on-one with some of Utah's most influential faith leaders about how their stances on abortion have not changed, but the conversations surrounding them have.
21 hours ago
Shara Park

Two Utah Olympians experience ride of a lifetime with Air Force Thunderbirds

The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds gave a “Hometown Hero” ride of a lifetime to two of Utah’s Olympians Friday as final preparations are underway for this weekend’s Warriors Over the Wasatch Air and Space Show at Hill Air Force Base.
21 hours ago
FILE: Image of a pregnant woman. (Deseret News, Sara Reid)...
Ashley Moser

Does Utah adequately fund support for women with unwanted pregnancies?

The number one reason Utah women seek an abortion is socioeconomic, according to statistics from the Utah Department of Health. As KSL's Ashley Moser explains, experts say there are policies lawmakers should consider right now to help women financially.
21 hours ago
The Utah State Capitol on Friday, March 25 when the Utah House and Senate voted to overturn a veto....
Larry D. Curtis

BREAKING: Abortion now prohibited in Utah

The Utah law prohibiting abortion, with some exceptions, is now part of Utah legal code according to a notice sent from the Utah State Legislature Friday.
21 hours ago
FILE (St. George Police Department Facebook)...
Madison Swenson

Man arrested for two robberies in St. George

A man was arrested and booked on multiple charges Friday after two robberies were reported in St. George.
21 hours ago
(Salt Lake City Police Department)...
Madison Swenson

Woman injured in SLC auto-pedestrian crash; police investigating

A 64-year-old woman was critically injured Friday after she was struck by a car in Salt Lake City.
21 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

hand holding 3d rendering mobile connect with security camera for security solutions...
Les Olson

Wondering what security solutions are right for you? Find out more about how to protect your surroundings

Physical security helps everyone. Keep your employees, clients, and customers safe with security solutions that protect your workplace.
Many rattan pendant lights, hay hang from the ceiling.Traditional and simple lighting....
Lighting Design

The Best Ways to Style Rattan Pendant Lighting in Your Home

Rattan pendant lights create a rustic and breezy feel, and are an easy way to incorporate this hot trend into your home decor.
Earth day 2022...

How Are You Celebrating Earth Day 2022? | 4 Simple Ways to Celebrate Earth Day and Protect the Environment

Earth Day is a great time to reflect on how we can be more environmentally conscious. Here are some tips for celebrating Earth Day.
Get Money Online...

More Ways to Get Money Online Right Now in Your Spare Time

Here are 4 easy ways that you can get more money online if you have some free time and want to make a little extra on the side.
Lighting trends 2022...

Lighting Trends 2022 | 5 Beautiful Home Lighting Trends You Can Expect to See this Year and Beyond

This is where you can see the latest lighting trends for 2022 straight from the Lightovation Show at the Dallas World Trade Center.
What Can't You Throw Away in the Trash...

What Can’t You Throw Away in the Trash? | 5 Things You Shouldn’t Throw in to Your Trash Can

What can't you throw away in the trash? Believe it or not, there are actually many items that shouldn't be thrown straight into the trash.
‘Candy Bomber’ Gail Halvorsen passes away at age 101