Monday, May 02, 2011

Army Sgt. Kevin W. White

Remember Our Heroes

Army Sgt. Kevin W. White, 22, of Westfield, N.Y.

Sgt White was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii; died May 2, 2011 at COP Honaker-Miracle, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit using an improvised explosive device.

Westfield soldier dies in Afghanistan
By T.J. Pignataro
News Staff Reporter

When news broke that Osama bin Laden had been slain by elite American forces in Pakistan late Sunday, a sense of national pride swept the country.

But for U.S. Army Cpl. Kevin White -- stationed in Afghanistan along the Pakistani border far away from his Westfield home -- it meant his part of the world was about to get even more dangerous.

White, 22, who had already completed a 15-month tour of duty in Iraq, acknowledged as much on his Facebook account in the hours after bin Laden's death.

That would be the last contact he'd have with home, his mother, Patricia White, told The Buffalo News on Tuesday.

White, an Army infantryman, was killed Monday when his unit struck an improvised explosive device while on patrol in the region east of Kabul. Word reached the White family late Tuesday morning when they were visited at home by U.S. Army officials.

"He knew he was not in a good spot in Afghanistan. He knew things would get hotter," Patricia White said. "He knew the risks when he went in and he went anyway. To me, that says something about his character."

White's family heads to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware today to see their fallen hero. He was Paul and Patricia White's middle son. The family was still in shock late Tuesday after learning of his death, his mother said.

Details of the operation that led to White's death were not disclosed to his family, and it was unclear whether any other American soldiers were hurt or killed in the incident.

His mother said she didn't yet know much about his mission in Afghanistan because her son had only been there about two weeks after since his April 7 deployment from his station in Hawaii.

The time zone changes -- Kabul is 8 1/2 hours ahead of local time, and Hawaii is six hours behind -- precluded frequent one-on-one contact between White and family members back home. However, he had chatted with his father over Facebook in recent days, his mother said.

"He said he was doing all right," she said, recalling her son mentioned seeing weapons in Afghanistan unlike any he'd ever before seen.

"His last post on Facebook was that bin Laden was 'taken out' and he was pretty sure things were going to 'get real hot,'" Patricia White said.

But her son was used to combat. During Operation Iraqi Freedom, White was a lead driver for the "MRAP," a military acronym that stands for the "Mine Resistant Ambush Protected" fighting vehicles specially designed to withstand an IED attack. That's just what happened when his unit in Iraq once hit an IED: the device was unable to penetrate his vehicle.

Before Iraq, White had been stationed in Germany, where he operated Bradley tanks.

The 2006 graduate of Westfield Academy and Central School entered the service after graduation, according to his mother. He left Westfield in July 2006 for Fort Benning, Ga., before being deployed to Germany and then later called to duty in Iraq. White re-enlisted in the Army after his tour of duty in Iraq.

The family spent time together at Christmas time in Hawaii.

"He hadn't been able to get home a lot," his mother said, explaining all of his deployments were far from home. "So, we took Christmas to him."

Stationed at Schofield Barracks, White "lived large" during his time in Hawaii, his mother said, pointing out he enjoyed fishing and bought a Subaru Impreza that he had souped up to his liking. He planned to get his motorcycle license when he returned home.

White was a young man surrounded by friends. He enjoyed techno music and loved his brothers, David and Stephen, his mother said. He regarded POWs and soldiers in foreign wars as his "heroes" and had hoped someday to have children of his own.

Besides his parents and brothers, White also is survived by his grandparents, Jim and Joan Baer and Woody and Mary Wheeler.

Army Sgt. Kevin W. White was killed in action on 5/2/11.

1 comment:

Gundog!! said...

One of the best young men I had the opportunity to serve with. I will never forget being woken up to this news. No service member should have to lay their life down, but with that said, no one should ever lose someone like Kevin. A great soldier, leader, and person. Until we meet again my friend. Fight to win! Cacti!