JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska (5/1/2012) - A ceremony,
April 26, at the Soldier's Chapel on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson
commemorated the life and selfless sacrifice of Army Spc. Jeffrey
Lee White, a paratrooper from the currently deployed 1st Battalion
(Airborne), 501st Infantry Regiment.
Soldiers attending an April 26, 2012 memorial for Spc. Jeffrey
White Jr. pay their final respects for their fallen brother in arms.
Photo by Army Staff Sgt. Matthew Winstead
A St. Louis native, White was killed in action, April 3, in the
Khowst province of Afghanistan. Five other soldiers were wounded in
the improvised explosive device attack.
Mourners filled the
chapel as the official party of the ceremony led them through the
Army 1st Lt. Joshua Taylor read from a passage that
White's commander had spoken at a similar memorial for White in
"'He was a fantastic soldier,'" Taylor read.
"'Specialist White was athletic and courageous, I am proud to have
been his commander.'"
Following Taylor's remarks, Staff Sgt.
Raymond Fain, White's former team leader and squad leader, gave a
moving and heartfelt testimony highlighting the fallen soldier's
"I remember Jeffrey as being
open minded and eagerly loving [airborne jumps]." Fain said,
struggling to maintain his composure. "He was a hard worker, a hard
studier and he played just as hard as he worked. He loved hockey,
especially the Saint Louis
Blues, which was his all-time favorite hockey team. He was the
definition of a paratrooper and
one of the toughest fighting men in the world."
Following his emotional remarks he referenced the
biblical passage Luke 36:8 and concluded with the poem,
"What I Miss Most" by James Love.
Lambert, chaplain, delivered a brief benediction before the
final segment of the ceremony, the "Last Roll Call."
Sgt. 1st Class
Kenneth Rose stood and began to call off names, to which the
called-upon soldiers in attendance responded.
third name in the procession was intentionally that of Spc.
White, which Rose repeated twice. The ensuing silence was
meant to further emphasize his absence from the ranks.
After the third unanswered call, a crack of gunfire rang
out from just beyond the walls of the chapel as seven fellow
paratroopers fired three volleys of 21 shots and were
followed by the soft playing of taps.
ceremony, guests were permitted to approach the memorial, a
collection of the Soldier's personal belongings: his helmet
mounted on a rifle and fixed onto a pedestal with an
attached bayonet, metal identification tags draped around
the pistol grip of a rifle and his boots respectfully placed
at the position of attention. This simple monument to the
soldier who wore and used these items is known as a
Flanking either side of this
memorial were 8 by 10 photographs of the deceased soldier.
As they left, White's fellow soldiers filed by the
monument and saluted in respect as other loved ones paused
with their own tender moments of silence.
small tokens on the memorial as they left. Most were
military coins, which are given to soldiers as a sign of
respect and a show of recognition for personal achievement.
Still others left personal objects, which would only
be understood by the Soldier himself. Both were left in good
will for a fallen soldier, a friend and a brother.
By Army Staff Sgt. Matthew Winstead
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