Col. Gail Halvorsen, the “Candy Bomber” of the World War II era, will return to the Utah State University campus next week to participate in events supporting the school’s Aviation Program and the College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences (CAAS).
USU Aviation is sponsoring a career conference. The banquet Wednesday, April 11, at the Logan airport serves to recognize graduating seniors and scholarship winners and to raise funds during a silent auction.
Halvorsen, a native of nearby Garland, will attend the Wednesday banquet, then Thursday night, 7-8 p.m., will be the speaker at the CAAS Dean’s Spring Seminar at the Sunburst Lounge of the Taggart Student Center on campus. This event is free and open to the public.
Halvorsen, 97, was a pilot during the Berlin Airlift and started Operation Little Vittles to provide the children of Berlin with chocolate and candy. It turned into a national project with pilots dropping candy every other day.
He joined the Civil Air Patrol in 1941 then came to USU in 1942, spending two semesters, before going on to earn his wings in the US Army Air Corps.
He has traveled the world and has done Candy Bomber reenactments since he retired.
Andreas Wesemann, a.k.a. “Professor Baron” of the Aviation faculty, said Halvorsen will share stories of what it was like to be in Berlin after the war.
“He will relate the story that by one small act both his story, (and) the lives of those children and perception of the whole world about the United State Air Force, changed,” said Wesemann. “This was the first major mission for the brand new minted Air Force. It demonstrated to the world that the United States was going to reach out to countries that needed our assistance.
“You will see the actual uniform he wore during the airlift.”
Wesemann said the event will also be an opportunity to illustrate how the USU Aviation Program is growing.
“We are up 50 percent over the last three years,” said Wesemann. “We have about 300 pilot students. We purchased Mountain Ridge Helicopters and those students and helicopters are now part of our program. We have 37 helicopter students, over 255 pilot students and our maintenance program has about 80 students in it as well.”