Over the blockaded West Berlin area, Colonel Gail Halvorsen regularly dropped off candy and other food items to Colonel Gail Halvorsen.
The former US airman known as the ‘Candy Bomber’ for his supply drops during the Berlin airlift passed away on Wednesday at the age of 101, surrounded by his family, according to a statement from the director of the Aviation Education Foundation named after him.
Colonel Gail Halvorsen served as both a transport pilot and fighter pilot in South Atlantic during World War II. Despite having initially had mixed feelings about helping German citizens after losing friends during the war, he eventually felt compelled to provide aid after meeting a group of children held behind a fence at Berlin’s Tempelhof airport during the city’s blockade.
Halvorsen, who had his own food and parachutes made of handkerchiefs for candy drops to the city every day, wiggled the wings in his plane as he flew above the airport. After he began the supply drops, some of Halvorsen’s other pilots began to join in with his efforts and, as word spread, individuals began donating rations to drop to Berlin residents.
Following his death, the German Ambassador to the US, Emily Haber, tweeted her condolences, stating that Halvorsen’s actions gave “Hope to million”Add she will “celebrate”His “101 Years of friendship and life.”
Rest in peace, Colonel Gail Halvorsen. This became an Air Force massive operation giving hope to millions. pic.twitter.com/dzii5Rf127
— Emily Haber (@GermanAmbUSA) February 17, 2022
“Two Million Berliners required food. Mostly women and children. So I felt good helping my former enemy because they were thankful.”CNN interview with Halvorsen 2009 discussing his work.
With Halvorsen having spent most of his childhood and retirement in Utah, the state’s governor, Spencer Cox, issued a statement mourning his loss on Thursday, calling the former airman an “International Hero who displayed extraordinary compassion during very difficult times.”
In 2014, Halvorsen received the Congressional Gold Medal for his efforts. He continued to travel to Berlin many decades later, and visited as recently as 2019, to mark 70 years since the end of the blockade.
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