The family of deceased Franklin County soldier Jeffrey L. White Jr. stood proudly amidst applause during a Memorial Day service in Washington Monday.
White of Catawissa was only 21 years old when he was killed by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan, April 3, 2012.
The crowd gave the family a standing ovation at Rennick Riverfront Park.
His father, Jeff White, told The Missourian after the Monday service that his son was a brave person who loved his country.
“I never knew how proud a parent could be of their son,” White said. “Proud doesn’t even really describe it.”
White, an Army specialist, was killed while driving a Humvee when the IED blew up underneath his seat, his dad said.
White’s mother, Paula, and his grandfather, Lee Morris, also attended the service.
White said his son was deployed to Afghanistan in December of 2011 and was due to come home on leave in nine days when he was killed.
His military service would have been completed in March of this year. White said his family still owes a thank you to the Pacific community for giving his son a great welcome home when his body came back. People lined the street to show their respect, he added.
White was a kind and giving person who ended up giving his life for his country, his dad said.
“Memorial Day means a lot more to me now,” White said. “It means a lot.”
His son loved the St. Louis Cardinals and Blues, his dad said, adding that soldiers give up so much when they are deployed thousands of miles from home.
The family is dealing with the loss of their hero, White said, adding, “The support everyone has shown has been phenomenal.”
After Sept. 11, White was still a child, but the terrorist attack had an impact on him.
“That stirred something in him,” White said.
When he was 18, he wanted to join the Army, and the family was caught off guard.
The service also included speakers, a gun salute and a patriotic boat parade on the Missouri River.
For the full story, please see the Wednesday edition of The Missourian.