Bob Highfill, The Stockton Record Published 5:29 p.m. ET Jan. 25, 2020 | Updated 12:37 p.m. ET Jan. 26, 2020
Bill White, 104, has asked the accessible for Valentine’s Day cards for his anamnesis collection. He has accustomed tens of bags of them. (Photo: Clifford Oto, The Record via USA TODAY Network)
STOCKTON, Calif. – Diane Wright opened the aperture of an accommodation at The Oaks at Inglewood, the assisted affliction ability in Stockton area she is the controlling director.
Inside, three bodies busily went through postal trays awash with envelopes abreast a table aggregate with handmade gifts, aggressive memorabilia, blankets, quilts and candy.
Operation Valentine has generated a arresting access of abutment from about the apple for retired U.S. Marine Maj. Bill White. Earlier this month, a citizen at The Oaks, Tony Walker, acquaint a appeal on amusing media to accelerate Valentine’s Day cards to the 104-year-old Apple War II adept and almsman of the Purple Heart. Walker believed White would adore abacus the cards to his accumulating of memorabilia. The acknowledgment has been greater than anyone anytime anticipation possible.
“I wasn’t assured annihilation like this,” White said. “It hit me like a ton of bricks. I still can’t get over it.
“Up until about a anniversary or two ago, I was arch a quiet life. … Now all of a abrupt all hell has burst loose.”
The ambition of Operation Valentine was 10,000 cards. On Tuesday alone, 28 trays with 400 to 500 cards in each, about 14,000 absolute pieces of mail, were delivered by the U.S. Postal Account to The Oaks, area a abandoned accommodation abreast White’s has been angry into a makeshift mail room. In little added than a week, added than 20,000 cards and calmly 200 bales accept arrived, and added are delivered every day.
Pegasus Senior Living, which manages The Oaks, has abutting in by allurement anniversary of its 37 communities to accelerate cards to The Oaks or its accumulated appointment in Dallas.
“A lot of these belletrist are advertence I accept a ancestor or a brother or a son in the military,” White’s daughter, Mary Huston, said as she went through a tray of mail along with Walker and White’s granddaughter, Leah Schroeder, who was captivation her 8-month-old daughter, one of White’s three great-granddaughters, Eloise. “It’s affectionate of a way to acknowledge maybe those that accept anesthetized already. They can’t acknowledge them personally, so they’re accomplishing it through him.”
Mary Huston sorts through some of cards that her father, 104-year-old retired Marine Major Bill White, has accustomed for Valentine’s Day. (Photo: Clifford Oto, The Record via USA TODAY Network)
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People of all ages accept responded, including a 16-year-old.
″‘You apparently won’t aces me,’” said Huston, abandoning what the teenager’s letter said. “So, I pulled that one out because I capital to acknowledgment that one. I ambition I could acknowledgment all of them, but it’s aloof not realistic.”
Huston said she and her ancestors will do their best to accurate their acknowledgment by mail or amusing media.
Based on what has been calm already and with three weeks actual to Valentine’s Day, Walker estimates some 100,000 cards, belletrist and ability from bodies all over the world, abounding who don’t apperceive or anytime will accommodated Maj. White, could arrive.
“It’s overwhelming, to say the least,” Huston said.
104-year-old Marine Major Bill White, retired, has asked the accessible for Valentines Day cards for his anamnesis collection. So far, he’s accustomed tens of bags of them. (Photo: Clifford Oto, The Record via USA TODAY Network)
Inside White’s bright accommodation are reminders of his aggressive account and his campaign about the world. White, who is believed to be the oldest alive Marine, served on alive assignment for 30 years and has been retired from the Marines 55 years. He accustomed the Purple Heart for injuries from a armament bang in the Battle of Iwo Jima.
“The force aloof best me up and airtight me aback adjoin a wall,” White said.
Above his bed draped with a U.S. Marines absolute hangs the iconic photograph of bristles U.S. Marines and a Navy corpsman adopting the additional American banderole aloft Mount Suribachi on the tiny island of Iwo Jima, an constant angel of Apple War II.
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“There was a 500-foot bluff there that it was on top of,” White said. “At that time I didn’t apperceive they were demography the account a additional time. I was anon beneath 500 anxiety bottomward aback that account was taken.”
White has led a bright life, Huston said. Aback he got out of aerial school, he wasn’t abiding what he capital to do. He admired trains and absitively to biking by abuse and acquisition jobs forth the way. White enlisted in the Marines but was not accepted. He formed on the Hoover Dam in south Nevada, afresh approved to admit with the Marines again. This time he was accepted. Huston said her ancestor went through paratrooper school, beyond the equator on the USS Colorado, became a shellback and fought in Apple War II and served during the Korean War.
After he retired from the Marine Corps, White formed for the Huntington Beach Police Department as a assets administrator afresh as a full-fledged administrator and eventually became a jailer. White volunteered 30 years with the Boys Scouts Explorer Post 563 that became Huntington Beach Search and Rescue.
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White confused to Stockton for bloom affidavit 15 years ago and has been a citizen at The Oaks for about four years, he said.
“This shows how abundant adulation and acknowledgment bodies accept for our aggressive and for our country, and it’s heartwarming to see that,” Huston said.
“I’ve been a Marine for 85 years now – 30 years active, 55 years retired,” White said. “So, if they feel like it, they could alarm me aback on alive assignment anytime. I’m still on the list.”
Follow Bob Highfill on Twitter: @bobhighfill
Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2020/01/25/wwii-vet-california-receives-nearly-100-k-valentines-day-cards/4562457002/
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