Friday, March 30, 2007

Anthony J. White dies of injuries from I.E.D.

At Richland Northeast High School, Tuesday was another sad day of placing a name with a face.

Teachers and administrators checked their yearbooks and memories after learning Army Pvt. Anthony White, Class of 2003, had been killed in the Iraq war.

“Anthony was a good young man whom we all remember very fondly,” said RNE principal Ralph Schmidt. “We are very saddened by the news of his death.”

The 21-year-old White was the second RNE graduate to die in the Iraq war. Marine Staff Sgt. Jay T. Collado, a 1993 graduate, was killed in February 2006 by a roadside bomb.

White was one of four soldiers killed Sunday when a bomb blast ripped through their patrol in Diyala, an increasingly volatile province northeast of Baghdad.

Two other soldiers were wounded, the U.S. military said.

The news began filtering through the RNE community Monday, when basketball coach Jason Powell got a phone call from one of White’s former Cavalier teammates.

White, a 6-foot, 3-inch forward, was a member of the RNE basketball team in his junior and senior years. The team White played on as a junior was runner-up to Spartanburg High in the 2002 Class AAAA tournament.

“It really does hit you,” Powell said. “He gave up his life to protect ours. That says a world about him. But then that’s the kind of person he was.”

Gary Fulmer, who coached White when the teen-ager first arrived at RNE in the fall of 2001, remembered a shy young man who was an intense competitor.

“Two weeks into practice, I hadn’t heard him say a word and I was wondering if he could speak,” said Fulmer, now coordinator of athletics for Richland 2.

But as White settled in, he became a jokester who loved to horse around with friends and teammates, coaches and friends recalled Tuesday.

He also became a team leader, Powell said. “He led with his hard work and competed on every play.”

Powell said he talked to White about playing basketball for a small college. But White wanted to follow his father and join the Army.

Harry White, a 29-year Army veteran and retired command sergeant major, told The Associated Press that his son was a member of his old outfit, the 82nd Airborne Division.

“I pinned his jumpmaster wings on him. Now I’ll put those wings on his coffin,” said Harry White, a civilian employee at Fort Jackson.

Funeral arrangements were incomplete Tuesday.

White was the third South Carolinian to die within a week in the Iraq war.

From the State