Members of the American Legion in met last Thursday, and made plans to take part in the homecoming of the body of U.S. Army Specialist Jeffrey White, and were alerted along with the VFW to be ready at about noon on Saturday at the Central Avenue overpass over I-44.
We did much the same recently when an injured soldier was able to come back to the area for the first time. Many in Eureka took part in a benefit held March 31 at the Eureka Elks for him and a good time was had by all. We earned more than $9,000 that night.
Facebook has been full of comments about the greeting of the procession from the airport to Pacific. It was really moving to see how his family was recognized at the opening day ceremony at the ball park, too. First an eagle was released and it celebrated by making numerous passes over the playing field. Then the Marine Color Guard stood by as the crowd was worked up by the singing of the National Anthem by Joe Magranes' daughter, and the White family took part in raising the Championship banner from the World Series of last fall where Jeffrey White managed to attend a game as an avid Cardinal fan.
But he fell prey to a IED (improvised explosive device) in Afghanistan, and was buried with full military honors at Jefferson Barracks Cemetery.
Sports activity is big in the military. In my own case, after being the baseball team captain at Eureka High School in 1942, I played on the Marine's baseball teams both at Camp Lejuene and Fleet Marine Force Pac at Pearl Harbor. We played against and with many professionals, the most notable being Ted Williams who was at the Kaneohe Base on Oahu. However he was just another Marine at the time, but I was reminded and completely moved by the narration of the proceedings at the Ball Park today. It was beautifully handled today in St. Louis.
I write this as I just returned from the Central Avenue overpass as almost 100 people of all ages managed to stand through a driving rain prior to the arrival of the procession of nearly 100 motorcycles and other vehicles leading the hearse and accompanied by personal cars on the way to the funeral home in Pacific.
Just before the arrival a huge display of thunder made observers think there was a fireworks display of the event.
Welcome home, Jeffrey; may you rest in peace.