Among those who marched to Trophy Point to be sworn into the Corps of Cadets on 1 July 1944, was Edward Ansel White, to whom such a moment meant fulfillment of a cherished ambition—the first step toward achievement of a lifelong goal of becoming an officer in the United States Army. Born into an Array family, and living his early life in various Army Posts throughout the United States, Ed had ample opportunity to observe both the pleasant and the unpleasant aspects of a military career. Raised in the atmosphere and tradition of the Army, it is not unnatural that at an early age he determined to enter the Military Academy and seek a career in the military service.
Ed was born in Plattsburg, N.Y., on June 20, 1926. He attended various schools throughout the United States, graduating from Brown Military Academy in California. In July 1944, after studying one year at Georgia School of Technology, he entered the Military Academy with the Class of 1948.
The qualities and characteristics that were to win devoted friends throughout the class were quickly noted by those who were in close association with him. He had a keen sense of humor that immediately became apparent and remained as one of his most prominent characteristics. His constant cheerful disposition communicated to those about him the same happy spirits. However, his natural levity did not make him oblivious to the more serious aspects of life at the Academy. His ambition, perspective, and true sense of value kept study and play in proper focus. Guided always by a sincere desire to prepare himself for the future, he applied himself diligently and enthusiastically to whatever he attempted. He took an active interest in all phases of cadet life. He was intensely interested in all athletics, excelling as a player in basketball, baseball and golf. He graduated, well liked, respected, and with a firm background for further military study and development.
The year after graduation, Ed followed the pattern of his class and attended the Ground General School at Fort Riley, Kansas, and then the Infantry School at Fort Benning, Georgia. At both these schools, he applied himself thoroughly in his studies and in the classroom, further broadening and strengthening his military education. Again, his activities were not confined exclusively to his studies. After a pleasant blend of the serious and the social, he was married on 15 June 1949, immediately after graduation from the Infantry School, to Miss Barbara Miller, daughter of Brigadier General and Mrs. Maurice L. Miller. After the wedding, which was the climax to the events at Benning, the Infantry contingent of the Class of ‘48 separated and prepared for assignments to various overseas theaters. Ed and Barbara departed for the West Coast for a brief visit with Ed’s parents, prior to his departure for the Far East.
In late July 1949, Ed sailed for Japan where he was assigned to Company “H” and later to Company “G” of the 5th Cavalry Regiment. His knowledge, interest and enthusiasm were now devoted to his men. His platoons were well trained and had high morale. His ability and sincerity instilled the respect and confidence of both superiors and subordinates. Shortly after the return of his Regiment from Fall Maneuvers in October 1949, Ed was selected as an instructor in a newly formed Division Leadership School. He assumed his new duties with his characteristic enthusiasm and vigor. He devoted much of his time to improving the quality of instruction at the school for which he received official commendation. His efforts were soon to be rewarded by the subsequent performance of his students on the battlefield.
Immediately after the outbreak of war in Korea on 25 June 1950, Ed was released from the Leadership School and assigned to Company “F”, 5th Cavalry. The Regiment was quickly alerted, and on 12 July Ed’s unit sailed for Pohangdong, Korea. On 18 July, his company landed and was hurried to Yongdong where it was immediately ordered into action. Thus within three weeks of the outbreak of hostilities, he was fighting with that small force of gallant men committed to the unequal task of slowing the enemy’s advance to gain time for the assembling and equipping of sufficient troops to stop it entirely. After participating in very fierce combat in this initial action, his battalion was ordered to the vicinity of Kumchon and assigned the mission of covering the withdrawal of the remainder of the Division. On 2 August 1950, while leading his men in the execution of this mission, Edward Ansel White was killed in action. For his valiant conduct on the final battlefield, he has been posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.
The citation reads:
“First Lieutenant Edward A. White, 057152, Infantry, United States Army, a member of Company “F” 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division (Infantry), distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy on 2 August 1950, near Kumchon, Korea. On 2 August 1950, Lieutenant White was in command of an outpost comprising eleven men when an enemy force of two platoons launched a pre-dawn attack. In the face of overwhelming odds, Lieutenant White calmly withheld the order to fire until the enemy approached within twenty-five yards, then his outpost delivered such devastating fire from small arms and grenades, that thirty of the enemy were killed. During this action the outpost expended nearly all ammunition and Lieutenant White, although the road was swept by heavy machine gun fire, drove a jeep to the rear for more ammunition. Obtaining ammunition he started back through the concentrated enemy fire. During the return trip Lieutenant White was killed. The extraordinary heroism displayed by Lieutenant White on this occasion reflects the highest credit on himself and the military service. Entered the military service from California.”
The following excerpt from Brigadier General Frank A. Allen, Assistant Division Commander, 1st Cavalry Division, to Edward’s parents is quoted:
“Edward was among the first of the young officers in the 1st Cavalry Division to give their lives in the Korean action, but his death in battle served as an inspiration for all officers of the Division.
“His service in Japan with his regiment was outstanding and because of this he was selected as an instructor in the Division’s Leadership School, which was functioning successfully when the 1st Cavalry Division was alerted for combat duty in Korea.
“The tactical situation was a fluid one, with hostile elements attacking our forces from all sides, surrounding, cutting off elements and threatening the integrity of our whole force.
“During one of the pre-dawn attacks of a strong enemy unit against the flank and rear of the 2d Battalion, 5th Cavalry, near Kumchon, Korea, Edward demonstrating the exceptional leadership qualities that made him conspicuous during his service, beat back several attacks with the fire from his platoon, and with complete disregard for his personal safety, directed the fire and actions of the men of his platoon. Later when reorganizing the platoon and distributing ammunition to resist the inevitable counterattack, he was killed in action. His devotion to duty and splendid example of leadership so inspired his men that they continued to overcome the enemy attack until the enemy withdrew. The action of Edward and his platoon was unquestionably one of the main reasons for the successful withdrawal of the battalion without serious loss.
“Edward gave his life that other elements of his regiment might survive and continue the action. He exemplified the finest traditions of the military profession.”
Thus he joins the assembly of those whose deeds of valor have preserved and maintained this nation. With a military heritage and a sense of obligation to his country, he combined an aggressive spirit with a willing, loyal execution of orders even to the extent of great personal sacrifice. To those of us who knew and cherished his comradeship, his conduct in battle will serve as an inspiration and will further perpetuate his memory with us forever. We have lost a true friend: West Point has lost a gallant son; the Army has lost a courageous young leader whose brief career is indicative of the great promise that lay in the future. Edward was reburied with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery on June 25, 1951.
The whole class joins in expressing sincerest condolences and sympathy to his wife, Barbara; his parents, Major General and Mrs. Charles H. White; and his brother, Colonel Charles H. White, Jr.
—L. D. C. and H. F. T. H., Jr.