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TREMONTON — People in Tremonton honored Colonel Gail Halvorsen, known as the “Candy Bomber,” with a 76-foot-long mural, just in time for his 100th birthday.
In a city that has become known for murals, Arts Council Chair Leisl Sorensen said they wanted to make this one special for a local hero.
“We’ve won best of state, for city art for the past five years in a row,” she said. “He also grew up in this area, so we wanted to be able to kind of have something to honor him, and to honor his legacy, as well as the fact that it’s sort of our shared legacy because he’s from here.”
Tremonton City gave Candy Bomber, Gail Halvorsen a big honor, with a MUCH larger than life mural. How it came together, and the ceremony where he was honored, on @KSL5TV at 6:30pm. (I have two stories airing tonight!) pic.twitter.com/7KsSycee21— Mike Anderson (@mikeandersonKSL) October 13, 2020
And a legacy it is. Halvorsen is known as the candy bomber for dropping treats to children during the Berlin airlift, after World War II — something that helped improve U.S. relations, and brought hope, to West Berlin.
“His story seems so pertinent to our history and this area, so kind of a lot of pressure to represent that through painting,” artist Erik Burke said. “But he’s a really fascinating man, so hopefully we could do him some justice.”
Burke methodically pieced the tribute together, spraying away over five days.
“The people of this area are very proud to have him from here, and to have that be a part of their legacy,” Sorensen said.
He’s now 100 years old, and still just as humble as ever.
“Well, this is a pretty big tribute for a guy that used to work here in Tremonton,” Halverson said.
Halverson said he’s grateful for his time in the U.S. Air Force and for his time here in Utah.
“Had some good times in Tremonton and Garland,” he said Tuesday.
The dozens of people who came to see him were grateful to call him one of their own, now brought to life in a very big way.
“And he’s just a really great example of kindness, especially in times like right now, when things are so crazy,” Sorensen said.
The mural sits across from the city’s veterans’ memorial, located right in the middle of downtown Tremonton, making it hard to miss for anyone coming through here.
“I don’t know that he feels that he’s done anything necessarily super-huge, but we all can see that it was,” Sorensen said. “I mean, he’s made a huge impact. People all over the world have heard of him.”
An example of kindness, and now a fixture in this city.
“God bless you, and remember that you’re lucky to be in America,” Halvorsen said.