As a veteran who has traveled the world and spent 30 years in active duty, Maj. Bill White has seen quite a lot in his lifetime.
The 104-year-old, who is believed to be the oldest living Marine, survived the Battle of Iwo Jima as well as a grenade blast which earned him a Purple Heart.
White has collected keepsakes over the years, which he keeps on shelves organized by year. He has also taken up scrapbooking to commemorate the events of his life. But this year White decided to add some tokens of love to his collection.
“I’ve been a Marine for 85 years now – 30 years active, 55 years retired,” White told USA Today. “So, if they feel like it, they could call me back on active duty anytime. I’m still on the list.”
White —who also served as a police officer, jailer, and as a Boy Scouts and beach rescue volunteer— says that collecting and scrapbooking is what has allowed him to “keep track” of his life all these years.
“The fact that I even survived is something. There weren’t too many of us. When I was wounded, I didn’t have any choice in the matter,” White told KTXL. “A grenade blow up about 6 inches from me. I’m still here. I’m 104. Can’t complain.”
He wanted to add some new memories to his collection and asked for people to send him Valentine’s Day cards. It was declared as “Operation Valentine.”
The media picked up his story and since then “all hell has broken loose.” More than 20,000 valentines along with handmade gifts, military memorabilia, blankets, quilts, and candy have poured into The Oaks at Inglewood assisted care facility where White has lived for the last four years.
Here’s a video clip for those who sent Major Bill White memorabilia, gifts, and cards.
Posted by The Oaks at Inglewood on Friday, January 24, 2020
“I wasn’t expecting anything like this,” White said. “It hit me like a ton of bricks. I still can’t get over it. Up until about a week or two ago, I was leading a quiet life. … Now all of a sudden all hell has broken loose.”
White’s daughter, Mary Huston, says that many of the people who sent in letters wrote about their own family members who served in the military.
“It’s kind of a way to thank maybe those that have passed already. They can’t thank them personally, so they’re doing it through him [White],” Huston said.
Huston said they are receiving letters from people all around the world and of all ages.
″‘You probably won’t pick me,’” Huston said reading from a letter from a 16-year-old. “So, I pulled that one out because I wanted to answer that one. I wish I could answer all of them, but it’s just not realistic.”
Huston estimates that her dad will receive more than 100,000 valentines by the time Valentine’s Day comes around.
“It’s overwhelming, to say the least,” Huston said. “This shows how much love and appreciation people have for our military and for our country, and it’s heartwarming to see that.”
If you’d like to send White a valentine, send it to the following address:
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