SrA Benjamin D. White
Senior Airman Benjamin D. White, 24, of Erwin, Tenn.; assigned to the 48th Rescue Squadron, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz.; died 9 June 2010, near FOB Jackson, Afghanistan, in a HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter crash.
Benjamin spent his growing-up years in Johnson City, Tennessee running track and playing soccer. By his mid-teens, he was doing volunteer coaching for younger soccer players. Soon afterward, Ben began working summers at Doe River Gorge Christian Camp, a high adventure summer camp in Hampton, Tennessee.
After graduating from high school at Science Hill High School in Johnson City, Ben enrolled at East Tennessee State University for several semesters, but he continued to search for that perfect niche for his lifework. In July 2006 before leaving for Air Force basic training, Benjamin hugged his mother and said, “Mom, I don’t know what it is, but God has something big planned for me to do.”
From the time he first heard of Air Force Pararescue, Ben knew exactly what he wanted to do. Injuries, setbacks, discouragement—nothing was going to deter Benjamin White from his goal of becoming an Air Force PJ and serving his country according to the Pararescue motto “These Things We Do That Others May Live.” On June 19, 2009 Ben graduated the intensive, grueling Pararescue course and proudly received his coveted maroon beret.
Saving lives, both military and civilian, is what being a PARARESCUEMAN is all about. Because of the unique nature of this job, PARARESCUEMEN receive exceptional training and qualification in a variety of combat, search and rescue and medical support expertise. Additionally, PARARECUEMEN are among the most highly trained emergency trauma specialists in the U.S. military . Also known as PJs, this group of Air Force elite is the only one in the Department of Defense specifically trained and equipped to conduct conventional and unconventional rescue processes. To accomplish this mission, PJ’s deploy around the world via the air, land and sea into a wide range of environments to extract, treat, stabilize and evacuate injured personnel.
The last week of April 2010, White left Davis-Monthan AFB in Tucson, Arizona headed to Afghanistan for what would be his first—and last—deployment. White flew more than 90 sorties in the 45 days he was deployed in Afghanistan.
On 9 June 2010, while serving as a member of the 41st Expeditionary Rescue Squadron, White and his team left Camp Bastion, Afghanistan on a mission to rescue a severely wounded British Marine. Their HH-60G Pavehawk helicopter crashed after being hit by hostile fire. Four airmen onboard the aircraft, including White, were killed instantly. The copilot also died a few weeks later from injuries sustained in the crash.