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Washington County Army veteran Jerry White flew President John F. Kennedy

November 22, 2021 – Washington County, WI – On this November 22, 2021 the anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, we hear firsthand from U.S. Army veteran and helicopter pilot Major Jerry White of Colgate, WI.
White served 20-1/2 years in the United States Army and in 1961 he joined the White House staff and flew 25 missions with President Kennedy.

“I was at home waiting to pick him up … it was our aircraft and crew that was going to pick him up at the airbase and fly him to the White House,” said White about November 22, 1963. “We were told… and it was very devastating and we went on red alert.”

White enlisted in the US Army at the age of 22 and has witnessed, and participated in, a lot from the air. “I went to Warrant Officer school, became a warrant officer (WO), and serve a tour in Vietnam as a WO instructor pilot and test pilot,” he said. “All my service was in aviation.”

“After I finished aviation training I went to Germany to fly the largest helicopter in the free world which was the CH37 Sikorsky; we flew all over Europe,” said White.

“From there I was selected to go to the presidential flight in Washington DC and flew President Kennedy and President Johnson,” White said. “I was selected to be the crew chief; I was a sergeant at that time.”

Jerry White

White talked about numerous missions he flew as a combat pilot. “The first tour I flew all over from Saigon. We flew air assault. We were going to extract the troops, and these happened to be Saigonese Regular Army. As we were coming out, the whole flight was ambushed; we got back to the airfield and counted 125 bullet holes in the aircraft. Not one person aboard was injured. That was an act of God.”

White retired from the Army at the age of 39 with an undergraduate degree in business and a master’s in business, having taken two years of schooling while serving in the military.

“After I got out, I was recruited by a national firm in Wisconsin; I’m originally from Iowa,” he said.  “So, I had a fresh MBA, and MBAs were very much in demand at that time in 1974. I took a job with Continental Can in Milwaukee. From there, I was recruited by UWM to head up their business development center. I was one of the first people in the state to have that position.”

After eight years with UWM, White and his wife, Terry, went into business for themselves. “We were approached by a number of people to start a company and they would fund it, and we did it. It was called Innovative Control System. We designed and manufactured and sold security systems for hospitals and nursing homes.”

White received the Presidential Service badge, 42 air medals, and a Bronze Star for his service.

White and his wife, Terry, have been married for 36 years and has three daughters. White’s birthday is the day after the Honor Flight. “This is a great birthday present,” he said.

Stars and Stripes Honor Flight is the Milwaukee area hub of the Honor Flight Network.  Founded in 2008, Stars and Stripes Honor Flight has flown more than 7,600 WWII, Korean War and Vietnam War veterans from southeastern Wisconsin on one day, all-expenses-paid trips to Washington D.C. 

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