Provo Vet Center officially renamed for ‘Candy Bomber’ Gail Halvorsen
The legacy of the Candy Bomber lives on in Utah County.
In his life, U.S. Air Force Col. Gail Halvorsen, known around the world as the “Candy Bomber,” earned reverence and respect for his military service and flights during World War II, when he airdropped 23 tons of candy to German children. Halvorsen passed away on Feb. 16 at 101 years old.
Moving forward, the Provo Vet Center will bear the Halvorsen name. On Monday, military and government officials were joined by members of his family for a dedication ceremony.
“This dedication serves to continue Col. Halvorsen’s mission to share the values that have led his life ‘… gratitude, hope, service before self, and the power of little things adding up to big things,'” reads the center’s newly unveiled plaque.
Marilyn Sorensen, Halvoresen’s daughter, spoke about her father’s legacy and life while revealing the plaque.
“With the naming of this veteran center today, we as the Halvorsen family hope that our father’s legacy will live on and he will inspire others still to remember the simple principles of love of freedom, love of nation and love for our fellow man,” she said.
Sorensen discussed Halvorsen’s time serving in World War II and his lifelong commitment to the military and his fellow service members. Despite his international recognition, Sorensen said she didn’t know about the Berlin Airlift until the family returned to the city while she was in high school.
“We just hope that it keeps his legacy going, that people can remember him and his good acts and what he stood for,” Sorensen said. She also took time to recognize her father’s humility, that he always saw himself as a “farm boy” and shied away from attention.
On hand for the ceremony were Utah Rep. Jefferson Burton, a retired major general in the U.S. National Guard and representative from Saratoga Springs, and Utah Rep. Gay Lynn Bennion. They were joined by staffers for congressmen John Curtis, Burgess Owens and Chris Stewart and and Sen. Mike Lee.
Taylor Ricks, communications director for the Utah Department of Veterans and Military Affairs, read a statement on behalf of Gov. Spencer Cox. In his remarks, Cox called Halvorsen the “embodiment of service, kindness, gratitude” and recognized his service and work inspiring others.
Lee also delivered a message via prerecorded video.
“Very few Americans inspire the spirit of humanitarian community service quite like Gail Halvorsen. He represented the best of Utah through times of darkness,” Lee said in the video.
The bill renaming the vet center was first introduced to the U.S. Senate by Lee in July 2021 and was approved by unanimous consent in December. It was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in May 2022 and signed into law by President Joe Biden on June 6.
Also in May, Halvorsen was honored at the Provo Airport when the U.S. Air Force named a C-17, which was used for humanitarian missions, “Spirit of the Candy Bomber.” The next day in Spanish Fork, chocolate bars were dropped from a C-54, the same model plane Halvorsen flew, to replicate the Utah native’s iconic candy drop.
The Provo Vet Center, now the Col. Gail S. Halvorsen “Candy Bomber” Veterans Center, offers “confidential help for Veterans, service members, and their families at no cost in a non-medical setting,” according to the facility’s website. It offers counseling for depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and more, and is located at 360 S. State St. in Orem.
The call center is available 24/7 at 877-927-8387 and more information can be found at https://va.gov/provo-vet-center/.