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Provo Veterans Center soon to be renamed for 'Candy Bomber'

The “Candy Bomber” Gail Halvorsen joins members of Follow the Flag at Colonial Flag in Sandy for a photo as work goes on to construct a giant flag on May 12, 2017. The Provo Veterans Center will soon be renamed to honor of Halvorsen, who died in February at the age 101.

The “Candy Bomber” Gail Halvorsen joins members of Follow the Flag at Colonial Flag in Sandy for a photo as work goes on to construct a giant flag on May 12, 2017. The Provo Veterans Center will soon be renamed to honor of Halvorsen, who died in February at the age 101. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)


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OREM — The Provo Veterans Center will soon be renamed to honor the late Gail S. Halvorsen, affectionately known as the "Candy Bomber."

A bill recognizing the contributions Halvorsen made during World War II, including his participation in the Berlin Airlift, is headed to President Joe Biden's desk. The House passed the measure Tuesday, while the Senate approved it last December.

With Biden's signature, the Provo Veterans Center at 360 S. State in Orem will be known as the Gail S. Halvorsen 'Candy Bomber' Veterans Center. Halvorsen died in February at the age 101.

"Most Utahns are familiar with the story of 'The Candy Bomber.' Gail Halvorsen symbolizes what is good about Utahns and what is good about our men and women in uniform," said Rep. John Curtis, R-Utah, who sponsored the legislation in the House. "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."

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, who sponsored the bill in the Senate, said Halvorsen represents the best of Utah and the best values of the armed forces.

"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 Vet Center after a great Utahn," he said.

Halvorsen received the "Candy Bomber" nickname as a young Air Force pilot while delivering humanitarian aid to a divided Germany as part of Operation Vittles in 1948. Halvorsen shared two sticks of gum with a group of German children standing by the runway at Tempelhof Airport. After that, he started attaching candy rations to miniature parachutes to drop from his plane over Berlin.

When his superiors learned about his efforts, they expanded the operation that became known as "Little Vittles." 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.

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Dennis Romboy
Dennis Romboy is an editor and reporter for the Deseret News. He has covered a variety of beats over the years, including state and local government, social issues and courts. A Utah native, Romboy earned a degree in journalism from the University of Utah. He enjoys cycling, snowboarding and running.

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