The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints honored one of its own at this year’s Old Soldiers Day Parade. Lieutenant Gail S. Halvorsen, affectionately known as “The Candy Bomber,” was the inspiration for this year’s float. Halvorsen, currently 96 years old, was one of hundreds of U. S. Air Force pilots involved in the airlift of food and supplies to Russian-blockaded West Berlin between 1948 and 1949. Following a chance encounter with a group of German children, Halvorsen felt compelled to do something to lift their spirits. He founded “Operation Little Vittles” which dropped gum and candy over Berlin using parachutes fashioned from handkerchiefs. An estimated 23 tons of candy donated by American citizens and candy manufacturers were dropped from 250,000 parachutes.
Over 50 missionaries and members of the Roswell Stake of the LDS Church walked alongside the float and handed out candy to parade watchers. Veterans Paul Boris (U.S. Air Force), Tom MacMullin (U.S. Marine Corps) and Bill Pixton (U.S. Army) were transported on the bright red float bearing the words of Lt. Halverson “Service is the bottom line to happiness and fulfillment.” To learn more about the Candy Bomber visit www.mormon.org.