Spc. Jeffrey Lee White’s mother and father, Paula and Jeff, received a standing ovation from a crowd of more than 100 as they took to a podium adjacent to the Pacific Post Office, now known as the Specialist Jeffrey L. White Jr. Post Office Building.
Nearly six years after his death in Afghanistan, the city of Pacific and White’s family continue to remember and honor the fallen Catawissa soldier.
This past Friday, Aug. 24, marked the end of a six year quest to dedicate and rename the local post office in his honor.
Family, friends, state and city officials, and members of White’s platoon gathered for the official dedication of the Pacific Post Office in White’s honor.
The rain seemed to clear just in time for the ceremony, a result of Bill HR 452, legislation introduced by Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer requesting the official dedication of the office.
White’s parents spoke at the event alongside Luetkemeyer, Pacific Mayor Steve Myers and Postal Service Gateway Senior Plant Manager Chuck Sciurba.
Chris Douglas gave an invocation during the ceremony, Jerry Holloway sang the national anthem, the Pacific High School ROTC performed the posting of colors and members of the school’s marching band played patriotic songs throughout the ceremony.
Paula White said since the day Jeffrey was brought home, the city of Pacific has continued to show her family support unlike anything they’ve seen before.
“From the time we brought Jeffrey home on April 14, 2012, in the pouring rain, this city showed up for us,” she said, while describing the flag procession residents performed as Jeffrey’s remains were transported through town in 2012. “It’s a scene that’s etched in our minds forever.”
Jeffrey White graduated from Pacific High School in 2008, Shortly after, in 2009, he joined the U.S. Army and graduated from basic training, advanced training and the basic airborne course at Fort Benning, Ga.
He was assigned to the 1st Battalion (Airborne), 501st Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Ark., where he deployed in December 2011 for Afghanistan.
On April 3, 2012, a week away from a scheduled leave, and months away from the end of his deployment during Operation Enduring Freedom, Jeffrey White was killed by an improvised explosive device near his unit in the Khost province in Afghanistan.
His awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal; Purple Heart; Army Good Conduct Medal; National Defense Service Medal; Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Bronze Service Star; Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; Army Service Ribbon; Overseas Service Ribbon; NATO Medal; Combat Infantryman Badge; Basic Parachutist Badge; Combat and Special Skill Badge; Basic Marksmanship Qualification Badge; and the Overseas Service Bar.
Paula White thanked many as she spoke at the ceremony, including the U.S. Postal Service, Myers and Luetkemeyer for their work in getting HR 452 through the Legislature at the city and state level. She also singled out several soldiers who served with her son and who attended the ceremony, as well as Brett Workman, another soldier from Washington, who was assigned to escort Jeffrey’s remains back to Missouri.
She said those soldiers are and will always be like family to the Whites.
Honoring Jeffrey’s sacrifice has been a focus of now Mayor Steve Myers’ since he was brought home by his parents. Paula White said without Myers’ dedication to Jeffrey’s memory, the dedication might have never happened.
Myers originally presented the proposal to seek Legislation that would rename the post office to the city’s board of aldermen when he himself was an alderman in 2016. It was approved unanimously by the board.
“We would not be doing this without your effort and the time you devoted to this project,” Paula White said at the dedication.
For the past decade, the U.S. Congress has passed legislation to dedicate local post offices to honor individuals. Many have been renamed in honor of famous people, but the majority have been dedicated to fallen U.S. service members.
Luetkemeyer’s office pushed the bill through Congress, something Paula White said she checked up on almost every day. She said she’s eternally grateful for the work of Myers, Luetkemeyer and his aides to get the Legislation passed.
The Pacific post office joins approximately 400 local U.S. post offices that are named for fallen U.S. service members.
White also thanked the postal service. She said beyond renaming the post office is her son’s honor, during Jeffrey’s deployment and training, the letters and packages she sent to Jeffrey acted as “lifelines” for a mother missing her son.
“I can tell you that in the early days of Jeffrey’s basic training those letters that I wrote and mailed to him and the ones that he returned to me were my lifeline,” White said. “Later, after deployment, it was the packages.”
A plaque with Jeffrey’s name and rank will be placed in the facility’s lobby. It was presented to Jeffrey’s parents and his two brothers, Kyle and Michael, at the ceremony.
Myers said Jeffrey White represented the very best of what the area has to offer. He said thanks to the determination of White’s parents, the U.S. Post Office, state and local government, people who visit the post office will always be reminded of his sacrifice.
“We will forever be reminded of Army Spc. Jeffrey White Jr’s tremendous contribution to our society,” said Myers, each and every time we pass this post office we will be reminded of the courage, commitment and sacrifice Jeffrey made to keep this nation free.”
Luetkemeyer mirrored Myers’ words and said Jeffrey White made a difference with his life.
“We all live with hopes of trying to make a difference with our lives,” Luetkemeyer said. “I think Spc. White can rest easy knowing that he made that difference.”