Wiesbaden remembers Berlin Airlift Candy Bomber and his legacy

By Connie DickeyFebruary 18, 2022

Wiesbaden remembers Berlin Airlift Candy Bomber and his legacy
Retired Colonel Gail S. Halvorsen, the Berlin Airlift’s Candy Bomber, waves at the crowd during the U.S. Army Garrison’ Berlin Airlift 70th anniversary ceremony in 2019 at the Wiesbaden Army Air Field. (Photo Credit: Courtesy) VIEW ORIGINAL

WIESBADEN, Germany – The U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden is remembering retired Col. Gail S. Halvorsen, known as the Candy Bomber, on his passing Feb. 16 at the age of 101.

Halvorsen is well known throughout Germany and was a key component of the Garrison’s Berlin Airlift ceremony held every five years on the Wiesbaden Army Airfield at Clay Kaserne. The garrison is now in the planning stages of a 75th commemoration of the Berlin Airlift, scheduled for July 2023.

The Wiesbaden community has felt his passing as a loss of a beloved friend. Dave Fulton, Director at the Wiesbaden Mission Support Element of Headquarters, U.S. Army Europe and Africa said, “Col. Halvorsen was an amazing individual and inspiration to so many. His positive message that spoke to attitude, gratitude and doing the small things, well served as a motivation throughout his life.

“We, as a community, were so fortunate to share the 70th anniversary of the Berlin Airlift with him here at Clay Kaserne. He left a wonderful mark on the world, and I, for one, will always remember his boundless energy, his smile and his message.”

Halvorsen was part of the Berlin Aircraft pilots who dropped supplies to the Berlin community during 1948-1949 when the Soviet Union blocked the city from Allied-nation support. He started dropping candy to the children of the city so they too were not forgotten.

Wiesbaden remembers Berlin Airlift Candy Bomber and his legacy
During the Berlin Airlift, children wait for the Candy Bomber to drop candy. (Photo Credit: Courtesy) VIEW ORIGINAL

During his Air Force career, Halvorsen was stationed in Wiesbaden from 1962 to 1965 with the Foreign Technology Division of Air Force Systems Command.

“With the candy drops, Gail Seymour Halvorsen showed that even small gestures can make a big difference. Our thoughts are with his family and friends,” said Wiesbaden Lord Mayor Gert-Uwe Mende.

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier once wrote that Colonel Halvorsen, “built a bridge of humanity and compassion” between Americans and Berliners.

German Ambassador to the U.S. Emily Haber, who hosted Halvorsen at her Residence in 2019, added her condolences saying, “I celebrate your 101 years of life and friendship. Rest in peace, Colonel Halvorsen.”

“It was an honor to have Colonel Halvorsen and his charming smile at the Embassy a couple years ago. Colonel, thank you for the hope you brought the children of Berlin, our team - all Germans! German-American friendship is more profound due to your kindness.”