Berlin Air Force ‘Candy Bomber’ pilot from WWII dies aged 101

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — Utah native Col. Gail S. “Hal” Halvorsen, also known as the “Candy Bomber” of Berlin, has died at the age of 101.

Halverson was a US Air Force pilot who served in World War II in Berlin.

At a time when more than two million German citizens were cut off from the food supply, Halverson began dropping candy-filled parachutes from his plane, raising the spirits of war-torn children in the region.

He named his candy drop business “Operation Vittles” and inspired a movement of other American pilots to follow suit. It is estimated that Halverson and company fell 250,000 parachutes, totaling around 23 tons of sweets to children in Berlin.

  • Utah Candy Bomber_3611012671272797750

Governor Spencer Cox responded to the news by saying:

“I will miss my friend. A beautiful reminder that kindness and kindness can win, even in the most difficult 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 wherever he went, including when he visited @GermanAmbUSA in 2019. He will be missed.

In December 2021, a bill sponsored by Utah lawmakers passed rename the Provo Vet Center in honor of Halvorsen.

Senator Mitt Romney was one of many 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 World War II,” said Senator Romney. “What started as a gesture of compassion quickly became an official operation of the United States Air Force as he and his fellow pilots dropped rations of candy from their airplanes on the children of West Berlin.Gail is an American hero who embodies the best in humanity and embodies kindness and our state’s spirit of service, and it is only fitting that we rename the Provo Vet Center in his honor.

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