Note: The following article appears in the historical society’s June 2015 edition of our Timelines newsletter. Timelines is exclusive to all CCHS members, who receive the newsletter as part of their annual membership. To become a CCHS member, print, fill out and return our membership form, or register online using the link at the bottom of our homepage.
WESTFIELD – The Chautauqua County Historical Society has gratefully accepted a donation from the family of Sgt. Kevin White, the Westfield native and U.S. Army service member who died in the line of duty while on tour in Afghanistan in May 2011.
Earlier this year, Kevin’s parents – Patricia and Paul White – donated to the society his Army Class “A” dress uniform.
The uniform is complete with all the patches, ribbons, and medals that were awarded him. This including the ribbons for the Bronze Star and Purple Heart that SGT White received posthumously. The medals for these awards will remain with the family. The uniform will be on temporary display in the McClurg Museum’s parlor room from mid-June until early September. The display is intended to coincide with another display featuring Civil War hero Alonzo Cushing, who spent much of his youth in Fredonia and who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor during a presidential ceremony in late 2014.
Sergeant White was born May 20, 1988 in Westfield to Patricia (Baer) and Paul White. He was the middle of three sons: David, Kevin and Stephen. Kevin attended the Westfield Academy Central School from Kindergarten through 12th grade. He participated in several activities, including rifle club, soccer, ski club, tennis, volleyball, and swimming.
Kevin joined the Army Infantry in July right after graduating from WACS in 2006, enlisting for four years and four months. In November 2006 he was assigned to the 1st Armored Division as a Bradley Fighting Vehicle Driver.
While deployed to Iraq from April 2008 to June 2009 White drove the lead Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle in over 200 patrols. This among other attributes earned him the army Commendation Medal and the Army Achievement Medal. He also received the Combat Infantry Badge after encountering an Explosively Formed Projectile while on patrol in January 2009. Kevin’s MRAP was seriously damaged, but no one was physically injured in the vehicle.
While still deployed in Iraq, Kevin was re-enlisted in the Army, extending his obligation.
In October 2009 Kevin was re-assigned to the Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, Delta Company, 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division. He was assigned the positions of Gunner, Team Leader and Squad Leader in a Heavy Weapons Platoon.
While in Hawaii he was awarded his second Army Achievement Medal. He also volunteered for training to earn his Air Assault Badge at the Sabalauski Air Assault School, 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Ky. In addition, He earned the Expert Marksmanship badge for rifle, the Army Driver Wheeled Vehicle badge, and also achieved a perfect physical training score of 300. He graduated from the Improved Target Acquisition System (ITAS) course, serving as the company’s foremost expert on ITAS, training over 20 gunners on this vital piece of equipment.
Kevin completed Air Assault School, Sling Load Inspector’s course, and the Combat Lifesaver course. As a Corporal, he attended the Warrior Leader Course in March 2011, just one month prior to his deployment to Afghanistan, earning a position on the Commandant’s list by achieving a 95.47 percent.
Kevin deployed on April 7, 2011 to the Pech River Valley, Kunar Province, Afghanistan near the border of Pakistan and volunteered to command the lead patrol vehicle. On May 2, 2011, Kevin was killed by an IED, less than a month into his yearlong deployment to Afghanistan.
Having earned but not yet been awarded the rank of Sergeant, Kevin was posthumously promoted. He was also posthumously awarded the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, and his second Army Commendation Medal.
Both Sgt. White’s green Army Service Uniform along with Alonzo Cushing’s Medal of Honor will remain on display inside the McClurg museum throughout the summer, up until Sept. 8, 2015. Sgt. White’s uniform will be located on the museum’s first floor in the parlor room, while Cushing’s Medal of Honor will be on the second floor in the Civil War room.
To protect them from deterioration in the long term, Sgt. White’s uniform and medals will be removed from public viewing, carefully packaged and added to the historical society’s permanent collection. They will be available for display on special occasions for generations to come. Cushing’s Medal of Honor, meanwhile, will be sent to the Gettysburg Museum and remain there on permanent display.