MAJ Euell T. White (USA Ret)

I was born on 26 December 1933 near Florence, Alabama, the youngest of eight children. In his book, Into Laos, Keith Nolan described me as the eighth child of a poor Alabama family. This description was based on a telephone interview. I had never thought of my family as poor, but by today’s standards we were. Two months after my 13th birthday my mother died. One of my sisters who was yet single came home to take care of us. A few days before my 15th birthday my Dad married a woman who wanted nothing to do with children. I lived with them for a few months, then dropped out of school and struck out on my own. I have made my own living ever since the day that I left. Home. In July 1951 at age 17 I enlisted in the army for airborne. After 16 weeks infantry basic and completing an 8-week leadership course at Fort Jackson, S.C., I went to Jump School at Fort Benning as a corporal. After completing Jump school in March 1952, I was assigned to Company F, 504th Airborne Infantry Regiment (A.I.R.), 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg. I served as a squad leader in company F and also served on the regimental drill team. While assigned to the 504th, I attended the Light and Heavy Weapons, NCO course at Fort Benning and went to Panama for Jungle training. I also took and passed the High School GED test. I was promoted to Sergeant in May 1953, and discharged on June 16, 1954, my first wedding anniversary. In August 1954 I reenlisted in the 11th Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Kentucky and was assigned to the Recon Platoon of the 76th Tank Battalion. I completed the 16-week Armor NCO course at Fort Knox, Kentucky in 1955, and was promoted to Sergeant First Class that same year. The Division deployed to Germany in 1956. While in Germany I served as Rifle Squad Leader of the Recon Platoon, and Platoon Leader of the Headquarters Tank Platoon. When the division was reorganized as the 24th Infantry Division, in 1957, I was assigned as Assistant Battalion Operations sergeant. While in Germany, I passed the college-level GED test. When I returned to the states, I was assigned to the Self Propelled Anti Tank (SPAT) platoon of the 502nd in the 101st Airborne Division. During this time I took the Infantry Officer Pre-commission course by correspondence. In 1960 I reenlisted for the 25th Infantry Division in Hawaii and was assigned to the tank battalion. For most of that tour I was TDY to the Division noncommissioned officers academy.
In the summer of 1961, I applied for a direct appointment as 2nd Lieutenant and in January 1962, was sworn is as a reserve infantry 2nd lieutenant with an active duty date in April. In April 1962 I attended the Infantry Officer Basic Course at Fort Benning. After completion of the basic course I was assigned to the 1st Infantry Division at Fort Riley, Kansas where I served as Rifle Platoon Leader, Company Executive Officer and Company Commander. The Battle Group deployed to Germany for six months in 1962-63. I had duty as Officer-in-charge of Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin for three months.
In 1964, I attended the Special Forces Officer Course and the Special Warfare Staff Officers Course at Fort Bragg before my assignment to the 1st Special Forces Group on Okinawa. While in the 1st Group, I participated in two Guerilla Warfare exercises in Korea, and one in Taiwan. In the summer of 1965 I deployed to Vietnam as XO of an A Team. We had trained to work with a specific Montagnard tribe, but when we arrived our mission was changed and the team was assigned to Project Delta. My assignment was to assist Captain Tom Pusser who was the senior advisor to the 91st Ranger Battalion, and to replace him when he went home. I was promoted to Captain in September 1965. Both Tom and I became casualties at Plei Me on 22 October 1965. Tom was killed and I was wounded and evacuated back to Okinawa. When my Okinawa tour ended in January 1967, I was assigned to the Infantry School, Fort Benning as a team chief in the Platoon Tactics Committee. Before I got settled in good, however, I received an alert from the infantry branch personnel that I would be attending the MATA course at Bragg in the fall to prepare me for an advisor assignment in Vietnam beginning in December. When I asked why they sent me to Fort Benning for an assignment that was supposed to be a stabilized one, and then immediately alerted me for Vietnam, their reply was that I hadn’t yet been to Vietnam. When I asked the assignment officer how did I manage to get the purple heart and bronze star for valor, the reply was that I was on TDY and that didn’t count. During my 67-68 Vietnam tour I served as senior advisor to an infantry battalion of the 5th ARVN Division in Binh Duong Province, and as Senior advisor to the Division Training Center. I was wounded on 5 March 1968, but returned to duty after a few days in hospital. I was awarded the bronze star for valor for that action and of course another purple heart. I was promoted to major in November 1968. Upon completion of that tour I was assigned as advisor to a company of the 20th Special Forces Group (Airborne), Alabama National Guard at Huntsville, Alabama. My boss was Major Lee Mize, advisor to Group HQ Birmingham. Major Mize went back to Vietnam and arranged to not be replaced so he could return to that assignment. I had the responsibility then of the Group Headquarters as well as the company in Huntsville. In the spring of 1970, I attended the Infantry officers Advance course at Fort Benning. One of my classmates was then Captain Hugh Shelton who later became Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In January 1971 I began my third tour in Vietnam and was assigned as Executive Officer of the 3d Battalion, 187th Infantry, 101st Airmobile Division. Upon completion of that tour I was assigned to the 197th Infantry Brigade at Fort Benning until my retirement on 31 May 1972. In the fall of 1972, I enrolled at Columbus College (Now Columbus State University) and graduated in May 1974 with a B.S. in Business Administration. I worked for a while as a production supervisor for Reynolds Alloys, and various other jobs. Then in 1977 I went into full time Christian ministry. Because of health problems, caused by a flu shot, I retired in 2001 from a church where I had served for 18 years as Associate Pastor and Director of Counseling and Missions.

Decorations, medals, badges, etc.

Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal (Berlin)
Army Occupation Medal (Germany)
Good Conduct Medal with 3 Loops
National Defense Service Medal with 1 Oak Leaf Cluster.
Purple Heart with 1 Oak Leaf Cluster
Vietnam Service Medal
Bronze Star with “V” Device and 3 Oak Leaf Clusters
Vietnam Campaign Medal with 60 Device
Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Silver Star and Palm
Army Commendation Medal
Armed Forces Reserve Medal
4 Overseas Bars
Parachutist Badge
Senior Parachutist Badge
Master Parachutist Badge
Combat Infantryman Badge
Republic of China Parachutist Badge
Republic of Korea Parachutist Badge
The Republic of Vietnam Parachutist Badge
Meritorious Service Medal