Photos: A grateful community says goodbye to the ‘Berlin Candy Bomber’

Utah resident Gail Halvorsen, who in World War II launched a legacy of generosity and kindness as he dropped candy on the war-torn streets of East Germany, was laid to rest Tuesday at the Provo City Cemetery.

The more than 21 tons of candy that Halvorsen and his fellow U.S. Air Force pilots parachuted to children earned him the nickname of the “Berlin Candy Bomber,” both in his home state of Utah and in Germany. People from across the globe were present at Tuesday’s funeral to pay their respects.

“To be in the military as well is kind of following in his footsteps,” said Ryan Williams, Halverson’s grandson. He played taps at the cemetery for his grandfather and shared some encouraging words of advice he was once told.

“Live a life of service for others and have integrity. He showed us how to do that.”

Halvorsen died Thursday at the age of 101. He was born in the small farming community of Garland, where he helped raise sugar beets and dreamed of flying. A scholarship from what is now the Federal Aviation Administration gave him a chance to become a pilot, and when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and America entered World War II, Halvorsen joined the United States Army Air Corps as an aviator. 

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Through the rest of his life he continued to participate in humanitarian causes, including candy and toy drops across America and countries around the world. He took part in relief efforts in Bosnia, Albania, Kosovo, Japan, Guam, Iraq and the Micronesian islands.

Contributing: Morgan Wolfe and Larry D. Curtis, KSL-TV