By Darren Perucci,
Colonel Gail Halvorsen has many names. Uncle Wiggley Wings, Onkel Wackelflügel or just plain “Grateful,”are among some of his more uncommon names. He is better known throughout the world as the Candy Bomber.
Halvorsen spoke to an auditorium full of adoring BYU servicemen, servicewomen, students, and faculty members Wednesday evening. Halvorsen was in good humor and smiled from ear to ear during his introduction, and the smile never left his face.
Although the famous Candy Bomber did not bring any candy for his audience, he showered them with compliments and laughs throughout his presentation.
“I’m pleased to be here,” Halvorsen said. “But at 91 I’m pleased to be anywhere.”
In addition to his addicting sense of humor, he was able to sincerely praise those around him.
“The future is in good hands,” Halvorsen said. “It gives me confidence in the future. You are so far ahead of us. I am so impressed with what you do with what you have.”
Halvorsen earned his nickname, the Candy Bomber in post World War II. To aid the struggling people of Berlin, he began to drop candy, supplies and toys to the people while flying over the city he had fought against just weeks before. Halverson’s idea spread quickly to his fellow soldiers. Halverson once convinced other soldiers to donate their rations of gum and chocolate, giving him three weeks of rations to hand out to hungry children in Berlin.
In his discussion about attitude, Halvorsen said attitude creates 95 percent of what happens to him.
In addition to speaking on attitude, Halverson taught his audience the importance of gratitude. Service before self was something he emphasized. He also explained that the children in Berlin received over 23 tons of supplies because not one child said “gimme” instead of “give” [to others]. The Candy Bomber also localized his lesson to BYU students.
“There are dead sea souls out here in happy valley,” Halverson said. “We need to serve others. The dead sea is dead because it wrapped its arms around fresh water and gave nothing back.”
Halverson is definitely one to be learned from. He has logged over 8,000 hrs of flight time and will be doing another drop later this month in North Carolina. Halverson flew in thunderstorms, snow, fog and other inclement weather in order to serve others. He will continue to serve, all the while gaining new nicknames with every life he blesses.