‘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

Local News

FILE - Police lights (Ray Boone, KSL TV)...

Mary Culbertson

Man shot, killed in Salt Lake City homicide

One man is dead after he was shot in a Glendale neighborhood. Police are investigating the shooting as a homicide.

1 hour ago

A large fire at a historic church building in downtown Salt Lake required a three-alarm response fr...

Mary Culbertson

Historic church burns in downtown Salt Lake

A large fire at a historic church building, the Wells Ward meetinghouse, caused a four-alarm response from Salt Lake Fire Department.

4 hours ago

Despite rain earlier in the day, hundreds of people came out to attend the annual Busker Fest on Sa...

Brianna Chavez

Rain clears up Saturday for families to enjoy annual Busker Fest

Rain put a damper on some plans, but thankfully the sunshine came out just in time for people to enjoy the weekend festivities especially the annual Busker Fest.

14 hours ago

Christopher "Topher" Owens and William "Drew" Bull were last seen on February 26 in Blanding...

Mark Jones

Man accused in the killing of two missing men earlier this year is facing additional charges

A man accused of killing two men missing from San Juan County earlier this year is facing additional charges.

14 hours ago

Levi Wright, 3, vanished into a creek and was found a mile downstream in a near drowning. On Friday...

Mark Jones and Mary Culbertson, KSL TV

‘MRI wasn’t good’; Utah family not giving up after son nearly drowned

A toddler who nearly drowned in a Beaver County creek has been not speaking after waking up from a coma. Recent MRI results did not look promising, but his family is not giving up.

15 hours ago

A dog peers at Animal Care of Davis County in Fruit Heights in an undated photo. The county is plan...

Tim Vandenack, KSL.com

Davis County officials weigh tax hike, planning new shelter to contend with stray dogs, cats

Animal Care of Davis County, the sole animal shelter in the county, is crunched for space and money. It's prompted plans to build a new $15-million shelter and has Davis County commissioners weighing a property tax hike to keep pace with the rising cost of caring for the critters.

17 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Electrician repairing ceiling fan with lamps indoors...

Lighting Design

Stay cool this summer with ceiling fans

When used correctly, ceiling fans help circulate cool and warm air. They can also help you save on utilities.

Side view at diverse group of children sitting in row at school classroom and using laptops...

PC Laptops

5 Internet Safety Tips for Kids

Read these tips about internet safety for kids so that your children can use this tool for learning and discovery in positive ways.

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why Printer Security Should Be Top of Mind for Your Business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

‘Candy Bomber’ Gail Halvorsen passes away at age 101