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Gail Halvorsen, the ‘Candy Bomber’ has died at age 101

Feb 17, 2022, 7:19 AM | Updated: 9:36 am
Gail Halvorsen Candy Bomber...
96-year-old "candy bomber" pilot Gail Halvorsen gives thumbs up in front of an old US military aircraft with the name "The Berlin Train" in Frankfurt, Germany, Monday, Nov. 21, 2016. Halvorsen belonged to the pilots dropping goods in West Berlin 1948/49 after World War II. He was in Frankfurt to attend a small ceremony at the air bridge memorial at the airport. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)
(AP Photo/Michael Probst)

SALT LAKE CITY — Ret. Col. Gail S. Halvorsen, also known as the Berlin Candy Bomber, died on Feb. 16.

He died at Utah Valley Hospital, where he was surrounded by most of his children according to a social media post from the Gail S. Halvorsen Aviation Education Foundation.


 

Upon the news of his death, Utah officials began posting their condolences on Twitter, including Utah Gov. Spencer Cox who said he “will miss his friend.”

 

Halvorsen was a U.S. pilot and Utah native. He is best known for his actions over 70 years ago as a pilot delivering aid, supplies, and candy to war-torn Germany as part of the Cold War-era Berlin Airlift. He became known as Onkel Wackelflugel or Uncle Wiggly Wings to countless German children and as the Candy Bomber to the rest of the world.

Historic photograph shows plane flown by Col. Gail Halvorsen, known as “The Candy Bomber,” during the 1940s Berlin Airlift. Photo credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Born in Salt Lake City in 1920, Halvorsen was 101 years old when he passed. He grew up on small farms in Rigby, Idaho, and later, in Garland, Utah, and graduated from Bear River High School in 1939.

He attended Utah State University and received a private pilot license from the Civilian Pilot Training Program in 1941.

He married Alta Jolley in 1949. Both were active members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a church for which they served as missionaries in London and, later, in St. Petersburg.

Historic photograph shows Gail Halvorsen, known as the Candy Bomber during the 1940s Berlin Airlift. Photo credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Later in his life, between 1976 and 1986, Halvorsen served as the Assistant Dean of Student Life at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. 

 

Upon learning of his passing, Utah Sen. Mitt Romney said Mr. Halvorsen “epitomized the characteristics of the Greatest Generation.”


 Rep. John Curtis noted Mr. Halvorsen’s kindness, and sense of humanity.


 Speaker of the House, Rep. Brad Wilson, forwarded a message from the German embassy and called Col. Halvorsen a “true hero.”

In 2019, a baseball field at Berlin’s Tempelhof airport was renamed after Halvorsen. The Associated Press reported that the “Gail S. Halvorsen Park – Home of the Berlin Braves” was named as such in honor of his help for Berliners during the Cold War.

At that time, Halvorsen told Berlin’s mayor Michael Mueller that “it’s good to be home.”

Also that year, members of Utah’s congressional delegation asked President Trump to honor Halvorsen with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. By 2020, that effort was still ongoing.

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Gail Halvorsen, the ‘Candy Bomber’ has died at age 101