Air Force Senior Airman Benjamin D. White
Died June 09, 2010 serving during Operation Enduring Freedom
24, of Erwin, Tenn.; assigned to the 48th Rescue Squadron, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz.; died June 9, near FOB Jackson, Afghanistan, in a HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter crash. Also killed were Air Force Staff Sgt. Michael P. Flores, Air Force 1st Lt. Joel C. Gentz and Air Force Staff Sgt. David C. Smith.
(The following was taken from www.johnsoncitypress.com of June 24, 2010)ERWIN — As the procession traveled down Ohio Avenue Saturday, a message heard by agencies taking part and felt by the hundreds who lined the streets to pay honor to one of their own came across the emergency services scanner.
Senior Airman Benjamin D. White was home.
White, 24, of Erwin, died along with three other airmen on June 9 when their HH-60G Pavehawk helicopter, assigned to the 55th Rescue Squadron at Davis-Mothan Air Force Base, Ariz., crashed in southeastern Afghanistan.
A couple of hours before White’s body was flown in from Dover, Del., the air around Tri-Cities Regional Airport in Blountville was filled with light chatter and the roar of the numerous motorcycles’ engines as riders from Rolling Thunder, Fountain of Life Baptist Church and the Christian Motorcyclists Association positioned themselves on the runway, preparing to take part in White’s procession.
Once the plane carrying White’s body touched down at 9:10 a.m., there was silence.
Upon leaving the airport, the procession was immediately greeted by people standing along the roadside to pay honor to White. This would prove to be a continuing theme as the escort made its way to Erwin Memorial Funeral Home.
Some of those who lined the roadways and interstate stood with flags in hand, other with their hands over their hearts, only briefly removing them to wipe away tears. Some held signs, with such messages as “We Love You” and “Our Hero.” Others saluted as the procession passed.
American flags were draped from each overpass along the interstate route to the Jackson Love-Highway exit, the largest of which was reserved for Exit 36 in Erwin. Flags flew from nearly each pole along the route and from the hands of those in Erwin who came out to honor White as the procession made its way from Ohio Avenue to Love Street to Main Avenue.
As part of his job with the Air Force pararescue unit, White lived by the motto “that others may live.” As the hearse carrying his body pulled into the Erwin Memorial Funeral Home late Saturday morning, many stood silently to show their appreciation to White for giving the ultimate sacrifice to follow that creed.
Visitation for White will be from 4 to 7 p.m. Monday at Grace Fellowship Church, located on South Greenwood Drive in Johnson City, with memorial services to begin at 7 p.m. Burial will take place Tuesday at the Mountain Home National Cemetery.