During World War II, every new Army recruit learned discipline; to “March, Shoot, Obey.” This marker in a White City neighborhood commemorates the dedication of Camp George A. White on Sept. 15, 1942. - Bill Miller

A distinguished soldier

A small park in a quiet White City neighborhood once was the World War II center of Southern Oregon.

Here, on Sept. 15, 1942, during the official dedication of Camp George A. White, the Stars and Stripes was raised on what was then the headquarters flagpole.

The Army training facility was nearly complete and young men and women from all over the country already were learning their wartime duties.

The dedication ceremonies were a tribute to Gen. White, who had died in November the previous year, just 14 days before the attack on Pearl Harbor.

In his 1939 book, "Attack on America," White had predicted the United States soon would be part of the European war, and warned there was a possibility of invasion along the West Coast of the U.S.

"He was a prophet," said Maj. Gen. Kenyon Joyce, featured speaker of the day. "Had the country heeded his teachings and his brilliantly written warning of years ago, we would not have been so unprepared to meet our enemies when war came last December."

Born in Illinois, White grew up in Utah. He began writing professionally at age 16 when he became a reporter for a Salt Lake City newspaper.

When he arrived in Portland in 1904, he wrote for the Oregonian, a career he continued until 1915, when he resigned to become adjutant general of the Oregon National Guard. He had joined the Guard in 1907.

When the U.S. entered World War I, White was commissioned in the regular army and served on the staff of Gen. "Blackjack" Pershing, overall commander of American forces.

After the war, he helped reorganize the Oregon Guard, and in 1929 he was named commander of the 41st Division, composed of National Guardsmen from Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.

When Germany invaded Poland in 1939, White began preparing his division for war. Despite suffering from a fatal illness that had begun in June 1941, he led the division through two strenuous maneuvers that summer, and then sought medical treatment.

With eyes filled and in a shaking voice, White's widow, Henrietta, accepted the general's posthumous Distinguished Service Medal.

"I am proud to be here today," she said, "as the wife of the man you are honoring, who still carried on though desperately ill when the call came for active duty.

"He was always deeply concerned with the men's problems, and was pleased and happy in his relations with his soldiers. I am proud to know that you are creating a living and lasting memory to Gen. White by naming this magnificent camp for him."

Mrs. White then unveiled the dedication plaque that was inscribed, "Camp White, named in memory of Major General George A. White of Oregon, dedicated by Service Command Unit 1913. Sept. 15, 1942, Mrs. George A. White, guest of honor."

The ceremonies ended with a quintet of soldiers singing "God Bless America."

Camp White lasted through World War II, when what remained became today's Southern Oregon Rehabilitation Center and Clinics.

Henrietta White passed away in 1974 and is buried with her husband in Portland's Riverview Cemetery.

Writer Bill Miller lives in Shady Cove. Reach him at

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