WWII veteran reflects on life of adventure
Frank White recently turned 94, which means the Estacada resident has experienced nearly a century of adventures.
White celebrated his milestone birthday on Dec. 18. During his lifetime, he's served in the military as a teenager during World War II; had a 30-year career with the Portland Police Department; participated in an honor flight; and flown airplanes of his own.
A native of The Dalles, White joined the Civilian Military Training Corps in 1937.
"You were supposed to be 17 to join, but I was 14," he recalled.
His next step was to join the National Guard at 15, which was mobilized into the U.S. Army the following year.
"I enjoyed it," White said. "We had three meals a day. During the depression, you might not have had that."
Stationed at Ft. Vancouver and Ft. Lewis in Washington state, White was a telephone lineman.
"I didn't climb telephone poles too often. We laid them in the ground," he said.
Several years into his military service, White said his parents became concerned for his safety and requested a minority discharge.
"A group of us were getting prepared to ship to The Philippines, and the folks figured I was getting too close," he recalled. "The (discharge) order came through on the sixth of December. I got the order and the finance department was closed. They said, 'Go on home, come back Monday.' Pearl Harbor was bombed on Sunday."
White recalled when he first found out about the incident, he "didn't know what Pearl Harbor was."
White had been staying with a friend in the Portland area, and when he found out about the bombing he hitchhiked back to Ft. Lewis.
"I got on Union and Burnside and a Greyhound bus pulled in and loaded me on," he recounted. "The driver got up and announced to the people aboard the bus, 'If there's a company inspector here, I'm giving this man a ride for nothing.'"
When his Army discharge orders came through in February, White joined the U.S. Navy. He was 18, and the country was in the midst of World War II.
"I was first stationed at the destroyer base in San Diego and stayed there for about a year or so," he said. "Then the orders came through for my sea duty. We operated with aircraft carriers to rescue pilots. That went on for the rest of the war. I was in Guam, Saipan and Okinawa."
White became engaged to "a pretty girl" shortly after he completed his military service, but "luckily it didn't work out. I didn't marry her."
Eventually, he met his wife, Joyce. The pair had three children.
"She put up with me for 50 years, and then she decided she'd be better up there than down here with me," White said.
Once his time in the military was complete, White spent 30 years as a Portland police officer prior to retiring. He's lived in Estacada for 50 years.
He was drawn to his Estacada property because it had space to keep an airplane.
"We used to fly a lot. We've had four or five airplanes," he said. "It sure was fun. When I was a little boy I used to stand out in the backyard and watch the airplanes going over. I would think, 'Come down and take me for a ride.'"
This summer, White was recognized for his military service during an honor flight to Washington, D.C. Honor flight veterans travel to the country's capital at no cost to see the memorials of the wars in which they fought.
"Every time we went through an airport they notified people who we were, and everybody's standing up and waving at you as you go by," White said. "I had one little kid, he was standing in line with the others and kind of hesitating, and I reach out and touch his hand. And oh boy, the grin on his face. All in all, I enjoyed that trip."