MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII --
Strong. Silent. Sincere.
Those were the words members of Headquarters Battalion used to describe Sgt. Andrew White during his memorial service at the Chaplain Joseph W. Estabrook Chapel held Sept. 27, 2013.
White, a 31-year-old native of Alabaster, Ala., was the non-commissioned officer in charge of the base pay deck when he died, Sept. 7, in Hawaii.
Navy Lt. Stephen Chapman, chaplain for Headquarters Bn., led the unit in prayers and mourning the loss of the sergeant.
“Sergeant White’s life was cut a lot shorter than what we had hoped for,” he said. “We mourn his loss today for what he meant to those who loved him and cared about him. (We mourn) for what he could have continued to contribute to the Marine Corps, to America, to those who loved and cared about him so deeply and for those he would have met in the future and had a chance to impact. He did not get to have that long life.”
Chapman spoke about how White’s life came to a sudden end, but how he made an impact on others.
Several of his colleagues and Lt. Col. Robert Maldonado, the commanding officer of Headquarters Bn., offered their remembrances of White’s short but full life. White’s family did not attend the chapel ceremony, but Maldonado shared his experience of meeting them in Texas during White’s funeral earlier in the month.
“All of them loved him very much and his family was extremely tight,” Maldonado said.
Marines who worked with White in the finance office spoke about how he was a reserved person, whose smiles were rare but genuine.
White had a quiet nature but always made an impression, said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Ioannis Vrachnos, an assistant finance officer with the battalion.
“There were few times (I saw) him shaken,” Vrachnos said. “He was a solid, stern leader. He always had a look on his face that let you know he was thinking about how to solve or do something.”
Others in White’s office admired his honesty about himself and his actions.
Sgt. Rande Moon, an internal controls clerk, recalled how he and White had many disagreements before becoming close friends. During the ceremony, Moon spoke about how he appreciated White’s bravery and courage to do everything with integrity.
“He really was on the outside how he was on the inside,” Moon said. “He didn’t hide behind a mask or anything else. He was one of the few people I can say who was sincerely himself.”
The ceremony also offered those in his unit the chance to pass on lessons they learned from him.
Sergeant Jonathan Herlan, a travel auditor who was White’s former roommate, recalled how the two bonded over shared music and learned their way around the Marine Corps Base Hawaii.
“He gave me honest advice,” Herlan said. “He was very sincere in everything he did.”
Moon spoke about how White reminded him making mistakes is a part of life and how obstacles are not too great to overcome.
“None of us are perfect,” Moon said. “Life is a roller coaster, filled with ups and downs. Who we are inside and what we decide to do with those ups and downs is what matters.”
Members of Headquarters Battalion handled the downhearted day of White’s memorial by upholding the sergeant’s importance to the unit. At the end of the service, his supervisors ceremonially announced roll call and listened to the silence when White could not answer them back.