Leonard R. White (1968/06/13)
By Marie Harris (Leonard's Mother)
I wonder how many mothers have made this wish,
That their sons hadn't wanted to enlist.
But off they go to do their job to fight in Vietnam. They hug your neck and say don't cry. I'll see you mom, by and by.
You wait for a letter every day, and "Oh my God" how we pray.
But instead we receive another kind,
Sorry your son was killed by a hostile mine.
You hope and pray that it's not true, For you want him home with you.
I realize now that he is gone,
But my love for him lingers on and on. I lost my son in a far off place.
I pray to God, but it's so hard to face.
Times I am afraid,
but in God I have put my faith.
Leonard Ray White was born on June 2, 1947 in Watsonville, California to J. H. and Marie White. With his brother Gilbert and sisters, Joyce and Linda, he attended local schools in the Pajaro Valley. Leonard was a student at Watsonville High School between 1962 and 1965 and was described by his teachers as being "pleasant, friendly and courteous." Baseball and football were Leonard's favorite sports during his high school years.
On August 29, 1967 Leonard White joined the US Army and completed basic training at Fort Bliss, Texas, followed by airborne training at Fort Benning, Georgia. In February 1968, two months prior to his being deployed to Vietnam, he married Kathy.
On April 6, 1968, Pfc. White reported to Company D, 2nd Battalion of the 173rd Airborne Brigade, serving in Binh Dinh Province in South Vietnam. Shortly thereafter he was promoted to corporal. His paratrooper friend Charles Dewes remembered White:
“Leonard was an airborne infantry soldier! He ... went on aerial combat assault missions ... pulled point ... went on night-time ambushes ... he had to be careful of deadly boo-b-traps ... he had to look out for snipers ... he went on search and destroy missions ... and slept and ate in a hot brutal jungle. Leonard was always willing to do his share and more under sustained fear and enormous physical demand. A young man willing to perform all these dangerous duties in a life and death environment and to be brave daily is no less than heroic. On June 13, 1968 Leonard White relieved another soldier of his position as R.T.O. because that soldier had succumbed to malaria. While on a search and destroy mission this outstanding (Sky Soldier) was caught in the center of a Viet Cong ambush and killed fighting his way out.”
Leonard's body was returned to Watsonville and following a funeral, was buried with full military honors at the Pajaro Valley Memorial Park.
(VVWM; WHSM; WRP June 17, 1968 1:4, June 20, 1968 2:5; Charles De Wees Website, Leonard White Remembrance, http://www.173d.com/memorial/white.htm; [15 May 2007 Approx])