After graduating from Thomasville High School in 1963, Davie White figured college wasn’t in his future.
He was the oldest of seven children – three boys and four girls – and his father was a heavy-equipment operator and his mother a housewife.
“I volunteered (for the Army) to get out of the country, the small town I was in. That was the only way out of there,” White said. “Dad couldn’t send me to college, so didn’t have that money.”
He enlisted in August 1963. Four years later, the 25-year-old sergeant first class was in Vietnam. White deployed from Bamberg, Germany, and served in Vietnam from June 1967 to June 1968.
As members of the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam, the Soldiers trained Vietnamese troops and went out on operations with them in Qui Nhon and Tuy Hoa. They trained infantry and artillery units. “Their (Vietnamese) mayor was a captain in the army and we worked in the city that he had,” White said.
White, an infantry Soldier, got wounded in mid-February 1968 during the Tet Offensive outside of Tuy Hoa. The Vietnamese regular civilian forces unit came under attack. White had a head injury from shrapnel and a bullet. He spent about six weeks in the field hospital in Tuy Hoa then returned his unit and changed to a logistics specialty.
Part 364 in series
In August 1967, a North Vietnamese battalion attacked his unit’s compound with artillery rounds. “We made it to the bunker,” White said. They called for air support; and a Huey helicopter, with code name “Moon Beam,” provided the firepower they needed.
In October 1967, they were out on a search and rescue mission in a village when they were attacked from the village. An Air Force jet responded with air support.
“He saw us. We were in trouble. He was heading back to the base. I guess he was clearing a landing zone for the 173rd 4th Battalion,” White said. “And then on his way back to the base, he saw us out in the rice paddy where we got hit from the North Vietnamese soldiers from the village. I had my radio and I switched to his frequency and asked him for help. He dropped a bomb on that village. I couldn’t see anything but fire on that side of the village. He took all of them out. That’s where we were able to get back to safety.”
For his year at war, White received the Bronze Star with V device for valor, the Purple Heart, and the Vietnam campaign ribbon.
“When we got back to this country, we were treated bad,” he said. “Actually I didn’t even talk about it. Of course you were scared to talk about it. Vietnam was not a popular war so when you came back you stayed quiet.”
He arrived in civilian clothes at the airport in Seattle, Washington, in June 1968 and he avoided the protesters who were picketing.
White retired in 1989 as a first sergeant after 26 years of service. In 1991 he graduated from Cameron University, in Lawton, Oklahoma, with a bachelor’s in criminal justice and a minor in business administration. He became an Army civilian and he retired in 2015 at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, after 26 years for a combined total of 52 years of government service. In 2015 he moved to Meridianville.
His married his neighborhood sweetheart, Willie, who he affectionately called “Tootsie.” She was his wife of 26 years and died in 1992. His daughter, Angela Crum, attended Alabama A&M University where she now works in administration and resides in Meridianville. His son, David, was 35 when he died in 2005 from cancer. White has three granddaughters.
At 79 White enjoys sports and he likes to work out at Pagano Gym daily with several other retirees who then visit the Exchange food court to relax. He has a 100% disability rating from Veterans Affairs.
White shared his thoughts on this nation’s commemoration of 50 years since the Vietnam War.
“I think it’s a good idea because actually we weren’t recognized when we came back from Nam,” he said. “We weren’t welcomed home like other wars’ Soldiers were.”
Editor’s note: This is the 364th in a series of articles about Vietnam veterans as the United States commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War.