The Gail S. Halvorsen Aviation Education Foundation announced Thursday morning that the beloved officer and command pilot died at the age of 101. He passed away on the evening of February 16, 2022, at the Utah Valley Hospital in Provo, Utah, after a brief illness. He was surrounded by loved ones.
Halvorsen was born on October 10, 1920, in Salt Lake City, Utah. He joined the United States Army Air Forces in May 1942 and would build a lasting legacy for his part in Operation “Little Vittles” after World War II. After sharing gum with children in Berlin, he began pooling his rations with other soldiers to deliver candy. It became an official operation on September 22, 1948. Halvorsen, known to the children as “Uncle Wiggly Wings,” would wiggle his wings in the air before dropping candy from the plane down to the children. The operation also earned Halvorsen the name, the Berlin Candy Bomber.
Halvorsen’s story was featured in the documentary Meet the Mormons and his segment of the film can be viewed below.
Halvorsen continued to fly after the war and received numerous awards and recognitions throughout the year. He and Alta Jolley were married in Las Vegas, Nevada, in 1949 and had five children. They served as missionaries together in both London, England, and St. Petersburg, Russia. After Alta’s death, Halvorsen would eventually marry Lorraine Pace, his high school sweetheart. Granddaughter Cathy Halvorsen shared online, “I can only imagine the embrace of him and his sweetheart after just over 23 years. The world has lost one of the most beautiful, amazing humans but his legacy will continue to live on.”
His daughter Denise wrote, “Beloved father passed last night to greet Alta last evening for a joyful reunion. How we will miss him!”
A few days before his death, Halvorsen shared this short message online.