Remembering “The Candy Bomber” through community action

Reading Time: 2 minutes Local event Operation Sunshine honors Gail Halvorsen and strengthens the community while creating a lasting piece of art.

Photo Courtesy of Rachelle PetersonReading Time: 2 minutes

Utah oral care company Spry partnered with Salt Lake volunteer program Know Your Neighbor to honor Gail Halvorsen at the event Operation Sunshine. 

The event took place at Utah Refugee Goats. Over fifty guests were welcomed to Operation Sunshine. Of these guests, over forty were Somalian refugees, and the remainder were volunteers from the area.

Gail Halvorsen was a U.S. military pilot known as “The Candy Bomber.” He received this nickname after he began dropping parachutes tied to candy for children over Berlin in 1948. Halvorsen was a Utah native, and his legacy has been celebrated by locals over many years. Halvorsen died earlier this year, at the age of 101 years old. Many paid tribute to him including Utah Governor Spencer J. Cox, the German Embassy, and Canadian Forces in America

“The purpose of Spry’s Operation Sunshine, in honor of Gail Halvorsen, is continuing the legacy to spread sunshine across the world with small acts of kindness and light,” spokesperson for Operation Sunshine, Rachelle Peterson, said. “Halvorsen had no idea what the impact of dropping candy in World War II would be, small acts make a big difference.” 

Spry has historically taken action in helping refugees in Utah. Last year they not only hired ten refugees but also collected and distributed donations to Afghan refugees. 

This event also brought awareness to Utah Refugee Goats, which serves as a bridge between American culture and the culture the African refugees had to leave behind. “The farm is designed like the goat farms found in East Africa, so refugees come to find relaxation, peace, and stress relief that they don’t find in the city,” said Abdikadie Hussein, board member and Somalian refugee. “When they arrive in the US, families often become disconnected with the children more connected to American culture, so the farm provides a way for parents to know their kids are still connected to the culture back home.”

A mural was painted by the children refugees in attendance, and a mirrored mural will be completed next month at a Ukrainian refugee camp in Berlin, Germany. The purpose of the paintings is to build a connection between the countries. Joel Melton is the director of marketing at Xlear Inc., Spry’s parent company. When asked about Operation Sunshine, Melton says, “This matches really nicely to our corporate values. We strive to lift people up, spread light, and give opportunities to other individuals. We’re happy to do this here in Utah and we have an opportunity equally as important in Germany a month from now.”  

The Utah mural will feature a portrait of Utah Refugee Goats board member Abdalla above the children’s painting. Lew Miller, President of Utah Refugee Goats, explains why Abdalla will be featured. 

“Abdalla has been an unflagging supporter of the farm, putting in countless hours to care for the goats,” Miller says. “[He] is a respected elder in his community and the mural is to recognize his many contributions to the farm and to strengthen the bond between the farm and the refugee communities.” 

Halvorsen will be the subject of the portrait in Berlin which will be completed in October 2022. Nathan Jones, CEO of Xlear Inc., said, “It is in [Halvorsen’s] honor that we have worked with community organizations to continue his mission to spread sunshine by hosting activities for refugee children that will help them feel integrated into their new communities.” 
After the success of Spry’s Operation Sunshine, it is evident Halvorsen’s legacy lives on across the globe.