SALT LAKE CITY — Utah-native Col. Gail Seymour Halvorsen, known worldwide as the "Berlin Candy Bomber," died Wednesday at the age of 101 following a brief illness.
Halvorsen, who was born in Salt Lake City on October 10, 1920, joined the U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II, eventually becoming a command pilot.
Following the war, when supplies and morale were short during the Berlin Airlift, Halvorsen continually dropped candy from his plane for the children of the city below. For his efforts and service, Halvorsen was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 2014.
FOX 13s Bob Evans joins Max Roth below to share memories of Col. Halvorsen
The U.S. embassy in Germany made the announcement of his death on Thursday morning.
"Thank you for your kindness, Colonel," the embassy tweeted.
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".— German Embassy (@GermanyinUSA) February 17, 2022
Thank you for your kindness, Colonel. pic.twitter.com/HDumSDAunm
Utah Gov. Spencer Cox shared his condolences in a tweet, saying "I will miss my friend. A beautiful reminder that kindness and goodness can win, even in the most trying times."
Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, who serves a member in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints also took to social medial to remember Halvorsen and reflect on their friendship.
The tribute said in part, "Today my friend has flown to even greater heights and returned to his heavenly home. He will be remembered with love and missed by many. 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."
Halvorsen and his crew achieved fame during the Berlin Airlift after seeing that the children of Berlin had very little, and would often ask them for pieces of chewing gum or candy. After not having enough candy for each child one day, Halvorsen promised that he would later have a treat for every one of the kids, and he would drop them off of a plane.
Halvorsen kept his promise, gathering spare candy one night and dropping the treats from a C-54 cargo plane. The operation was later made official and was dubbed “Operation Little Vittles” in Sept. of 1948. Soon children and candy makers throughout the United States began contributing candy for the operation.
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In all, Halvorsen and his colleagues dropped 23 tons of chocolate to the German children.
Last year, Halvorsen celebrated Independence Day in St. George by dropping candy from a helicopter over the Dixie State University campus.