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Hundreds of strangers showed up to the funeral of a Navy veteran with no surviving family to pay their respects
He died in old age with no known surviving relatives, but on Wednesday morning, hundreds of people gathered graveside to honor the life and service of Herman Augusta White, a quiet Navy veteran who spent the last two decades without his wife and only son.
White was 97 years old.
Well-wishers from across Oklahoma and the United States traveled here to give him a proper sendoff and see to it that his life was not forgotten.
Among the hundreds in attendance was Michael Ruth of Tulsa, who also served in the Navy, decades after White earned an honorable discharge after serving in World War II.
Like many of those gathered around White's casket on a steamy September morning, Ruth learned of the story of the gentle Navy veteran on social media.
"I saw he was a Navy vet and saw that he didn't have any family," Ruth said. "He made a choice. The same choice I made. There is no other bond like that. I'm glad I came out."
White was born Dec. 1, 1921, in Wayside, Oklahoma, to Andrew Thomas White and Zula Mae Logan White. On Sept. 24, 1941, he married Evelyn Gertrude Leniger in a Baptist church in Broken Arrow.
At 24 years old, White left his wife in Oklahoma to join the U.S. Navy. After training in San Diego, he was stationed aboard the USS Muliphen.
White made the rank of Seaman 2nd Class V-6 USNR-SV. He earned the Victory Medal and the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal.
About five years after returning home from the Navy, White started a family. His only child, a son named Mickey, was born, Dec. 19, 1951, in Perry.
White worked in the oil and gas field, doted on his boy and loved taking family vacations. His house was filled with family photos. His wife died in 1998. His son died in 1999.
In the years after he lost his family, White could be seen around Perry, playing dominoes at the Senior Citizens Center or drinking coffee at Mr Convenience.
He died Aug. 11.
When Rebecca Raines, funeral director of Brown-Dugger Funeral Home, discovered White had no known surviving family, she began the push for a proper funeral service.
The funeral home bought a casket for White, who had bought a burial plot next to his wife and son.
Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Arielle Jackson put the word out on social media.
Around 9:20 a.m. Wednesday, the rumble of motorcycles adorned with American flags was heard throughout Perry as Patriot Guard riders escorted White's body to the grave site.
"Every one of us is here because of the life he lived," said Nathan Boon, a Navy chaplain.
During the service, commendation letters from President Donald Trump and Gov. Kevin Stitt were read. Oklahoma lawmakers called on their fellow Sooners to honor White.
"It's heartbreaking to think that this American hero so selflessly and bravely served his country in World War II and now has no family to honor and remember him at his funeral," said state Sen. Paul Rosino, R-Oklahoma City, a 25-year retired Navy veteran. "He deserves a proper hero's goodbye with his fellow veterans and Oklahomans there to celebrate his service and life."
Scriptures were read during the service. A bagpiper played "Amazing Grace." Red, white and blue balloons were released.
The Navy Honor Guard fired three volleys. A bugler played taps.
After the service, Navy and other military personnel lined up, and one by one in front of his casket, saluted White.
A Vietnam vet found covered in ant bites is forcing the Atlanta VA to finally reckon with years of dangerous practices
Dawn Brys got an early taste of the crisis unfolding at the largest Veterans Affairs hospital in the Southeast.
The Air Force vet said she went to the Atlanta VA Medical Center in Decatur last year for surgery on a broken foot. But the doctor called it off because the surgical instruments hadn't been properly sterilized.
"The tools had condensation on them," recalled Brys, a 50-year-old Marietta resident. The doctor rescheduled it for the next day.
Now the 400-plus-bed hospital on Clairmont Road that serves about 120,000 military veterans is in a state of emergency. It suspended routine surgeries in late September after a string of incidents that exposed mismanagement and dangerous practices. It hopes to resume normal operations by early November as it struggles to retrain staff and hire new nurses.
The partial shutdown came about two weeks after Joel Marrable, a cancer patient in the same VA complex, was found covered with more than 100 ant bites by his daughter. Also in September, the hospital's canteen was temporarily closed for a pest investigation.
The mounting problems triggered a leadership shakeup Sept. 17, when regional director Leslie Wiggins was put on administrative leave. Dr. Arjay K. Dhawan, the regional medical director, was moved to administrative duties pending an investigation. Seven staff members were reassigned to non-patient care.
The only question for some military veterans and staff is why the VA waited so long. They say problems existed for years under Wiggins' leadership, but little was done.
The former Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs thinks that the VA needs to start researching medical marijuana. Not in a bit. Not soon. Right goddamn now.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump's withholding of $391 million in military aid to Ukraine was linked to his request that the Ukrainians look into a claim — debunked as a conspiracy theory — about the 2016 U.S. election, a senior presidential aide said on Thursday, the first time the White House acknowledged such a connection.
Trump and administration officials had denied for weeks that they had demanded a "quid pro quo" - a Latin phrase meaning a favor for a favor - for delivering the U.S. aid, a key part of a controversy that has triggered an impeachment inquiry in the House of Representatives against the Republican president.
But Mick Mulvaney, acting White House chief of staff, acknowledged in a briefing with reporters that the U.S. aid — already approved by Congress — was held up partly over Trump's concerns about a Democratic National Committee (DNC) computer server alleged to be in Ukraine.
"I have news for everybody: Get over it. There is going to be political influence in foreign policy," Mulvaney said.
CEYLANPINAR, Turkey (Reuters) - Shelling could be heard at the Syrian-Turkish border on Friday morning despite a five-day ceasefire agreed between Turkey and the United States, and Washington said the deal covered only a small part of the territory Ankara aims to seize.
Reuters journalists at the border heard machine-gun fire and shelling and saw smoke rising from the Syrian border battlefield city of Ras al Ain, although the sounds of fighting had subsided by mid-morning.
The truce, announced on Thursday by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence after talks in Ankara with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, sets out a five-day pause to let the Kurdish-led SDF militia withdraw from an area controlled by Turkish forces.
The SDF said air and artillery attacks continued to target its positions and civilian targets in Ral al Ain.
"Turkey is violating the ceasefire agreement by continuing to attack the town since last night," SDF spokesman Mustafa Bali tweeted.
The Kurdish-led administration in the area said Turkish truce violations in Ras al Ain had caused casualties, without giving details.
Boyfriends can sometimes do some really weird shit. Much of it is well-meaning: A boy I liked in high school once sang me a screamo song that he wrote over the phone. He thought it would be sweet, and while I appreciated that he wanted to share it with me, I also had no idea what he was saying. Ah, young love.
Sure, this sounds cringeworthy. But then there's 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Cory Booker, who appears to be, dare I say, the best boyfriend?