Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Rep. John Curtis (R-UT) today introduced legislation to rename the Provo Vet Center in Orem, Utah after Colonel Gail S. Halvorsen, the “Candy Bomber.” Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Reps. Blake Moore (R-UT), Burgess Owens (R-UT), and Chris Stewart (R-UT) joined as cosponsors of the legislation. The delegation also wrote a letter to the Chairman John Tester and Ranking Member Jerry Moran of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee in support of the name change.
“Col. Gail Halvorsen exemplifies the best of the Utah spirit of service,” said Sen. Lee. “His creativity and compassion helped to heal the wounds of the Second World War, and softened the relationship between occupied Germany and the United States. Renaming the Provo Vet Center in his honor is a fitting and deserved recognition of this American hero.”
“Gail Halvorsen represents all that is good about Utahns—and our men and women in uniform,” said Rep. Curtis. “I am proud of our bill to honor his legacy and service to the United States with the soon-to-be renamed, “Gail S. Halvorsen ‘Candy Bomber’ Veterans Center.”
“Col. Gail S. Halvorsen was a force for good and a beacon of hope for many in the aftermath of the Second World War,” said Sen. Romney. “What began as a gesture of compassion quickly grew into an official U.S. Air Force operation as he and his fellow pilots dropped candy rations from their planes to the children of West Berlin. Gail is an American hero who exemplifies the best of humanity and embodies our state’s kindness and spirit of service, and it is only fitting that we rename the Provo Vet Center in his honor.”
“Col. Gail S. Halvorsen is a Utah veteran and an American hero,” said Rep. Owens. “He embodies our state’s spirit of service, faith, and community, and I’m proud to join this united effort to honor him and his family in a way that will continue his extraordinary legacy.”
“Gail Halverson embodies the ideals that Utahns, and all Americans, strive for every day: Bravery, compassion, and service. As a fellow Air Force veteran myself, I can think of none more fitting to represent the Veteran Center in Provo. I am proud to stand among a united Utah delegation in honoring his legacy,” said Rep. Stewart.
“Colonel Gail Halvorsen epitomizes Utah’s humanitarian spirit,” said Rep. Moore. “As an ambassador of the American Armed Forces, he provided more than candy. He brought hope to a German nation suffering from the wrath and destruction of the Second World War. No one is more deserving of our gratitude than Gail, and I am proud to join my colleagues in honoring his compassion and creativity.”
Col. Halvorsen performed military service of an extraordinary character during the Berlin Airlift in 1948, dropping candy rations from his plane to destitute German children as he undertook his airlift missions. An estimated 250,000 parachutes with 21 tons of candy were dropped by Halvorsen and his fellow airmen to the starving children of Berlin as part of “Operation Little Vittles.”
After 31 years of service and more than 8,000 hours of flying time, Col. Halvorsen retired from the military in 1974. Since then, he has continued engaging in humanitarian and community service, representing the U.S. Airforce abroad and re-enacting his famous candy drops in Berlin, the Middle East, and around the world in an effort to bring peace and relief. He has been awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, a German Order of Merit, an Air Force Commendation Medal, and a Medal for Humane Action. He has also founded the Gail S. Halvorsen Aviation Education Foundation, which advances aviation and STEM education, promotes youth leadership development, and encourages humanitarian service.
The bill would rename the Provo Vet Center to “The Col. Gail S. Halvorsen ‘Candy Bomber’ Veterans Center.”