Honoring a war hero from both sides

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Nicholas Perez
  • 151st Air Refueling Wing
Ret. U.S. Air Force Col. Gail Halvorsen, known as the “Candy Bomber”, was honored by top leadership from the Utah Air National Guard, Utah National Guard, and Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany with the laying of two wreaths at his gravesite on May 20, 2022. Col. Halvorsen was laid to rest on Feb. 22, 2022, at the Provo City Cemetery. He passed away at the age of 101. 
Family, friends, community leaders, and dignitaries attended the wreath-laying ceremony to honor and once again celebrate a man who, not only, touched so many lives but who made a significant impact on the relationship between Germany and America. 
“The Utah Air National Guard is honored to be a part of today’s wreath-laying ceremony,” said Brig. Gen. Daniel D. Boyack, Commander of the Utah Air National Guard, “Paying our respects to not only an American hero but a German hero as well.” 
The first wreath was laid to represent the Federal Republic of Germany in the name of the German Ambassador Dr. Emily Harbor and the second wreath was laid for the Governor of the state of Hesse, Germany, Volker Bouffier. 
Halvorsen earned international fame for his humanitarian actions during the Berlin Blockade and Berlin Airlift. From 1948 to 1949, his fellow service members dropped 23 tons of candy on the residents of Berlin during his operation “Little Vittles.” 
“Gail Halvorsen, with his candy on a handkerchief as a parachute and his wiggling wings, were a symbol of light and hope in such a dark time,” said Brig. Gen Frank Gräfe, defense attaché from the Federation of Germany to the United States. “But not only were his actions during the Berlin Airlift remarkable, but he became the symbol of German/ American friendship.” 
Halvorsen dedicated his life, after the war, to building the foundation and emotional bonds to expand and solidify the friendship between the United States and Germany. 
“Gail Halvorsen is a prime example of how one person can change the world,” said Brig. Gen Gräfe. “He was always smiling and is one of the most popular Americans in Germany.” 
Not only will the U.S. Air Force never forget the outstanding work and dedication Halvorsen had during his life and career, but the people of Germany will never forget the “The Candy Bomber.”