ST. GEORGE, Utah — Residents in St. George got an extra special treat as part of the Independence Day celebration from retired Air Force Colonel Gail S. Halvorsen, also known as the "Berlin Candy Bomber."
As part of St. George's tribute to veterans, Halvorsen participated in a historic candy drop flyover at the Greater Zion Stadium on the Dixie state University Campus on Saturday evening.
After dropping candy from a helicopter flying over the campus, Halvorsen was presented the inaugural Gail Halvorsen Lifetime Service Award in recognition of his legacy of kindness all around the world. The award was presented by Regine Lovely, who was given a piece of gum by Halvorsen, an act that inspired Halvorsen to start dropping candy to children in Berlin. She said she chewed on her tiny portion of gum for months to try and keep her hunger at bay and was inspired to move to the United States in part because of her reaction with Halvorsen.
In addition to Halvorsen, nine other local veterans were also presented with service awards.
The 100-year-old World War II veteran became known as the "Candy Bomber" in the 1940's when he began dropping candy to children in Berlin after the war left families devastated. Halvorsen was one of the pilots who landed every 13 minutes to help nearly two-million starving Germans from 1948-1949.
Halvorsen tied handkerchiefs to gum and candy rations before dropping them out of his plane to children below during World War II. The simple gesture of kindness quickly gained traction and was supported by candy companies and local communities.
Since that time, Halvorsen has helped to share 23 tons of treats all over the world.