OGDEN, Utah — World War II doesn't often invoke memories of compassion and goodwill, but one native Utahn gained fame during the Berlin Airlift as the "Berlin Candy Bomber," and he recently returned home for a visit to Hill Air Force Base.
Immediately after the war, Western countries delivered food and supplies to Berlin through the air because all other routes were blocked by the Soviet Union.
During one landing in Germany, Air Force Col. (Ret.) Gail Halvorsen saw children behind barbed wire waiting for supplies, and decided to share a few pieces of gum with them. It was split among the children until none was left, with those without a piece simply sniffing the empty wrappers.
Seeing their gratitude for such a simple act of kindness, he decided to become the "candy bomber," and he and his colleagues eventually dropped 23 tons of chocolate and other treats to the starving children.
Halvorsen, now 100 years old, made a visit home to Utah with his family and watched the F-35 Demo Team practice, visited the 309th AMXG facility, and toured the Hill Aerospace Museum.
He also met with Tech. Sgt. Daniel Sargent, 75th Logistics Readiness Squadron, who was the 2019 Col. Gail Halvorsen Outstanding Air Transportation Individual of the Year award recipient.
In 2019, Germans celebrated the 70th anniversary of the day the Soviets lifted their blockade with a party at the former Tempelhof airport in Berlin.
Among the invited guests of honor: U.S. pilot Gail Halvorsen.