Berlin Candy Bomber Gail S. Halvorsen Passes Away
Colonel Gail S. Halvorsen a beloved Latter-day Saint aviator known by legions as “The Berlin Candy Bomber” — died Feb. 16, 2022, at a hospital in Provo, Utah. He was 101.
“It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of Colonel Gail S. Halvorsen — the Berlin Candy Bomber,” the Gail S. Halvorsen Aviation Education Foundation announced Thursday on its Facebook page. “Gail passed away peacefully last evening, February 16, 2022, at 8:32 pm MST at Utah Valley Hospital after a brief illness. He was surrounded by most of his children.”
The Gail S. Halvorsen Aviation Education Foundation announced Thursday morning that the beloved officer and command pilot died at the age of 101. He passed away on the evening of February 16, 2022, at the Utah Valley Hospital in Provo, Utah, after a brief illness. He was surrounded by loved ones.
Halvorsen was born on October 10, 1920, in Salt Lake City, Utah. He joined the United States Army Air Forces in May 1942 and would build a lasting legacy for his part in Operation “Little Vittles” during World War II. After sharing gum with children in Berlin, he began pooling his rations with other soldiers to deliver candy. It became an official operation on September 22, 1948. Halvorsen, known to the children as “Uncle Wiggly Wings,” would wiggle his wings in the air before dropping candy from the plane down to the children. The operation also earned Halvorsen the name, the Berlin Candy Bomber.
Halvorsen’s story was featured in the documentary Meet the Mormons and his segment of the film can be viewed below.
Halvorsen continued to fly after the war and received numerous awards and recognitions throughout the year. He and Alta Jolley were sealed in the Las Vegas Nevada Temple in 1949 and had five children. They served as missionaries together in both London, England, and St. Petersburg, Russia. After Alta’s death, Halvorsen would eventually marry Lorraine Pace, his high school sweetheart. Granddaughter Cathy Halvorsen shared online, “I can only imagine the embrace of him and his sweetheart after just over 23 years. The world has lost one of the most beautiful, amazing humans but his legacy will continue to live on.”
His daughter Denise wrote, “Beloved father passed last night to greet Alta last evening for a joyful reunion. How we will miss him!”
A few days before his death, Halvorsen shared this short message online.
“He lived an exemplary life of goodness and represented the gospel and the Church of Jesus Christ worldwide in a very unique and authentic way. Harriet and I will miss him but look forward to seeing him again. Our prayers are with the extensive Halvorsen family as they celebrate his life and mourn his passing. We pray they will be comforted in the knowledge that they will see this dear man again.
“Godspeed, my dear friend.”
In a Thursday Twitter post, Utah Governor Spencer J. Cox paid tribute to his fellow Utahn:
“Col. Gail Halvorsen is a hero to so many. His courage and compassion in the most difficult of times have inspired generations and remind us all that kindness and goodness can win.
Rest in peace, Col. Halvorsen. We will never forget your service.”
Col. Gail Halvorsen is a hero to so many. His courage and compassion in the most difficult of times have inspired generations and remind us all that kindness and goodness can win.
Rest in peace, Col. Halvorsen. We will never forget your service. pic.twitter.com/cwXxEMmO57
— Utah Gov. Spencer J. Cox (@GovCox) February 17, 2022
The German Embassy in the United States also saluted Halvorsen.
“Berlin’s ‘Candy Bomber’, has passed at 101 years-old. When supplies were short during the Berlin Airlift, he dropped candy from his plane for the children of the city…. Thank you for your kindness, Colonel.”
RIP Colonel #GailHalvorsen. Berlin's 'Candy Bomber', has passed at 101 years-old. When supplies were short during the Berlin Airlift, he dropped candy from his plane for the children of the city, inspiring Operation "Little Vittles".
Thank you for your kindness, Colonel. pic.twitter.com/HDumSDAunm
— German Embassy (@GermanyinUSA) February 17, 2022
Utah Senator Mitt Romney wrote on Facebook, “From Garland, Utah, to the skies over Berlin, ‘Candy Bomber’ Colonel Gail S. Halvorsen epitomized the defining characteristics of the Greatest Generation. May he ever remind us that hope always exists, even in our darkest hour. Rest in peace to one of the world’s finest men.”