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US House approves bill to rename Provo Veterans Center after ‘Candy Bomber’

By Kelcie Hartley - | May 18, 2022

Isaac Hale, Daily Herald file photo

Gail Halvorsen, also know as the "Candy Bomber," poses for a portrait at his son’s home in Midway on Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020. Halvorsen earned his nickname by air-dropping candy to kids during the Berlin Airlift after World War II from 1948 to 1949.

The Provo Veterans Center will soon be renamed as the Gail S. Halvorsen “Candy Bomber” Veterans Center.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed Congressman John Curtis and Sen. Mike Lee’s bill to rename the Veterans Center on Tuesday afternoon. It passed the Senate in December 2021 and now heads to President Joe Biden’s desk for signature.

The bill was created to recognize contributions made by Halvorsen and the stories behind his “Candy Bomber” nickname during the Berlin Airlift.

“Most Utahns are familiar with the story of ‘The Candy Bomber,'” Curtis said in a press release. “Gail Halverson symbolizes what is good about Utahns and what is good about our men and women in uniform. We were all saddened by the news of his passing in February and this bill is a simple way to honor his legacy in Utah. I am pleased it is now on its way to the President’s desk to become law.”

Halvorsen was 101 years old when he died, Feb. 16.

“He received the nickname ‘The Candy Bomber’ while participating in the Berlin Airlift, Operation Vittles, at the start of the Cold War,” read the release. “In Berlin, Halverson shared two sticks of gum with a group of German children who were clearly destitute with little to eat. Halverson started regularly attaching candy rations to miniature parachutes to drop from his plane over Berlin.

“Lieutenant General William H. Turner, who directed the Berlin Airlift, learned about Halvorsen’s efforts, and officially expanded the idea into a full-blown operation known as ‘Little Vittles’ as a play on the broader operation’s name. When the Berlin Airlift ended, an estimated 250,000 parachutes containing approximately 21 tons of candy had been dropped by Halvorsen and his fellow airmen as a part of Operation Little Vittles.”

According to the release, Rep. Curtis introduced the bill in the House and was supported by the entire Utah Delegation, and Sen. Lee introduced the bill in the Senate.

“Col. Gail Halvorsen represents the best of Utah and the best values of the Armed Forces,” Lee said. “In times of darkness and despair, Gail Halvorsen brought light and kindness, and his work and legacy continues to this day. It is an honor to sponsor this bill and to rename the Provo Veterans Center after a great Utahn.”


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