By: Friedrich Seiltgen
Copyright © 2022
Halvorsen grew up in Utah and always had the desire to fly. After earning his private pilot’s license in September 1941 under the non-college Civilian Pilot Training Program, he joined the Civil Air Patrol.
In May 1942, he joined the U.S. Army Air Corps and was sent to the Spartan School of Aeronautics in Miami, Oklahoma for flight training.
After completing pilot training, he was assigned to transport operations in the South Atlantic Theater. He received orders to Germany in July 1948 and was posted to “Operation Vittles,” aka the Berlin Airlift.
Halvorsen piloted C-47s and C-54 transports that supplied the people of East Berlin with food after the Soviet Union blockaded all travel to their sector of the city.
Halvorsen would go out and speak with the people when he wasn’t on duty and film the situation outside the Berlin Tempelhof Airport with his movie camera. He saw the little children who had nothing but were thankful to the allied forces for helping them.
In a 2009 interview with CNN, Halverson stated:
“Two million people in Berlin needed food, mostly women and children. And so I felt very good about helping the former enemy because they were grateful.”
Halvorsen promised the children some chocolate and devised a plan to make it happen. “Operation Little Vittles” was launched. Halvorsen constructed miniature parachutes with candy bars attached to drop out of his transport when approaching Tempelhof Airport. By the end of the 15-month operation, 23 tons of food & candy were dropped to the German people trapped in East Berlin.
After the Blockade was lifted, the missions didn’t stop. Halvorsen carried out candy drops in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Albania, Japan, Guam, and Iraq.
Halvorsen served in various USAF positions, including the Berlin Tempelhof Airport commander. By the time he retired in 1974, Col. Halvorsen had logged over 8,000 flying hours.
After his retirement, Halvorsen returned to Utah and became a dean at Brigham Young University.
Halvorsen received numerous awards for his role in “Operation Little Vittles,” including the Congressional Gold Medal in 2014.
In 2022, we lost the “Candy Bomber.” Col. Gail S. Halvorsen passed away after a short illness at 101.
The Governor of Utah, Spencer Cox, mourned his loss:
“Gail Halvorsen is an international hero who demonstrated extraordinary compassion and kindness during a very dark time in world history,” “We mourn his loss but celebrate his exemplary life and legacy.”
That’s all for now, folks! Please keep sending in your questions, tips, and article Ideas. And as always – “Let’s Be Careful Out There.”
Friedrich Seiltgen is a retired Master Police Officer with 20 years of service with the Orlando Police Department. He conducts training in Lone Wolf Terrorism Counterstrategies, Firearms, and Active Shooter Response. His writing has appeared in RECOIL, Floridajolt.com, The Counter Terrorist Magazine, American Thinker, Homeland Security Today, and The Journal of Counterterrorism & Homeland Security International. Contact him at [email protected].