Utahn helps non-profit with modern day “Candy Bomber” operation

Nov 23, 2022, 7:00 PM | Updated: Nov 25, 2022, 8:49 am
Gail Halvorsen, the Berlin Candy Bomber, poses for a photo in the backyard of his Provo home days b...
Gail Halvorsen, the Berlin Candy Bomber, poses for a photo in the backyard of his Provo home days before his 100th birthday. (Photo credit: Lee Benson, Deseret News)
(Photo credit: Lee Benson, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — In memory of Gail Halvorsen, aka “The Candy Bomber,” a fundraiser named Operation Engel hopes to supply Christmas presents to refugee children in Berlin and Ukraine, including two pediatric hospitals in Ukraine.

Cynthia Merrell, who partnered with the non-profit called Spendenbrucke, would like to fill a plane from Salt Lake City with candy, small toys, hats, gloves, and mittens. In an Interview with KSL NewsRadio, Merrell said she’d ideally like to have all donations by Dec. 9. 

“It’s a modern-day Candy Bomb,” said Merrell. “When they get those boxes, we’re hoping it will create a memory.”

Also, she hopes the children know that halfway around the world they’re thought of. 

From Salt Lake City, the shipment will go to Amsterdam where Spendenbrucke will put items into Christmas boxes to be distributed to children.

If you are interested in donating, click here.

About the “Candy Bomber” and Berlin Airlift

Halvorsen, who airdropped candy during the Berlin Airlift, passed away earlier this year in Utah, his home state. Before he became known as the “Candy Bomber,” Halvorsen trained as a fighter pilot and served during World War II. After the war, he began flying food and other supplies to West Berlin, as part of the airlift. 

The Berlin Airlift resulted after the Soviet Union blockaded West Berlin from all road and rail travel. The airlift began on June 24, 1948, and lasted until May 12, 1949

During one of his airlifts, he met a group of children behind a fence at the Templehof airport where he promised to deliver candy to them the following day. Halvorsen delivered, as promised, using handkerchiefs as parachutes to ensure a safe landing. 

In nearly a year, more than 200,000 American planes carried in more than 1.5 million tons of supplies. Once the Soviets ended the blockade, West Germany became a separate and independent nation, proving a massive failure for the Russians. 

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Utahn helps non-profit with modern day “Candy Bomber” operation