Jerry White grew up in Panama City, Florida. His father considered himself a “semi-career” Soldier, commissioning through MIT ROTC and serving as an intelligence officer in Europe during WWII. After a break in service, he reentered the Army and served in the Army of Occupation in a devastated Germany. Jerry attended school in Heidelberg but completed high school at Ft. Hood, Texas. His grandmother influenced him to apply to West Point, and he entered the Academy with the Class of 1961. He was a thrower (hammer and 35 lb. weight) on the track team and was on the cross country team in the off-season to stay in shape (and to remain on Corps Squad tables). His Tactical Officer, Bill Caldwell, was a positive influence, and inspired Jerry to branch Infantry. He deployed to Vietnam twice, first as an advisor, and then as a staff officer and battalion commander in the 1st Battalion, 52nd Infantry in the Americal Division, and in the 198th Light Infantry Brigade. His assignment as an advisor to the 33rd Rangers (ARVN) was a scary assignment because they saw considerable action along the Cambodian border. Halfway through that deployment he was reassigned to the IV Corps Training Center (ARVN) and got into a fair number of fights with the Viet Cong around the training center. Between his tours in Vietnam, he earned a Master’s Degree in Spanish (one year was spent studying in Madrid), and he taught in the Department of Foreign Languages. He considered his tour as Battalion Commander of 4th Battalion, 20th Infantry in Panama his best assignment, and he learned a great deal commanding the Dragon Brigade at Ft. Bragg. Near the end of his time in the Army, he served as the Chief of Staff of the 2nd Infantry Division in Korea, which was a very interesting assignment.
Cathy White also grew up in Panama City, and she met Jerry when she was 17. Her mother encouraged her to break a date to go out with Jerry, and the two began dating. They were married following his graduation from West Point. She recalls that Jerry’s deployments to Vietnam were tough. She moved home with her father for the first deployment after her mother died, and during the second deployment she was constantly on edge, anticipating a death notice by telegram. Her favorite assignment was when the family was in Panama City. When they were assigned to Korea, she was very involved with different organizations. She was a purchaser for an on-post gift shop, and spent quite a bit of time traveling to different locations. Reflecting on her time as an Army spouse, she remarks that she enjoyed the Army way of life and the people.