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Robert Michael White

Date of birth: July 6, 1924
Date of death: March 17, 2010
Place of Birth: New York, New York
Home of record: New York New York
Status: POW

During World War II Major White served with the 355th Fighter Group in the European Theater of operations, where he flew P-51 aircraft from July 1944 until February 1945 when he was shot down over Germany on his 52d combat mission. He was captured and remained a prisoner of war until his release in April 1945. He was also the first man to fly a winged craft six times faster than the speed of sound when he flew his X-15 at 4,093 miles per hour. For his achievements in the X-15 aircraft, General White received the Harmon International Aviators Trophy, the Collier Trophy and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Distinguished Service Medal. He served in both the Korean and Vietnam Wars, earning four Silver Stars in addition to the Air Force Cross. In all, FIVE Air Force Crosses were awarded for heroism on the day he earned the AFC , the first of many attacks on the Paul Doumer Bridge. The five Air Force Cross recipients were: Lieutenant Colonel James McInerney, Colonel Robin Olds, Lieutenant Colonel Harry Schurr, Captain Fred Shannon, and Colonel Robert White. Robert White retired as a U.S. Air Force Major General on February 1, 1981. He was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame in 2006.

AWARDS AND CITATIONS

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Awarded for actions during the Vietnam War

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Title 10, Section 8742, United States Code, takes pleasure in presenting the Air Force Cross to Colonel Robert M. White (AFSN: 0-24589A), United States Air Force, for extraordinary heroism in military operations against an opposing armed force as an F-105 Mission Commander and Pilot of the 355th Tactical Fighter Wing, Takhli royal Thai Air Base, Thailand, in action near Hanoi, North Vietnam, on 11 August 1967. On that date, Colonel White led the entire combat force against a key railroad and highway bridge in the vicinity of Hanoi. In spite of 14 surface-to-air missile launches, MiG interceptor attacks, and intense anti-aircraft artillery fire, he gallantly led the attack. By being the first aircraft to dive through the dark clouds of bursting flak, Colonel White set an example that inspired the remaining attacking force to destroy the bridge without a single aircraft being lost to the hostile gunners. Through his extraordinary heroism, superb airmanship, and aggressiveness in the face of hostile forces, Colonel White reflected the highest credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.

Action Date: August 11, 1967

Service: Air Force

Company: Deputy Commander for Operations

Regiment: 355th Tactical Fighter Wing

Division: Takhli Royal Thai Air Base, Thailand

Air Force Distinguished Service Medal

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Awarded for actions during the Vietnam War

(Citation Needed) - SYNOPSIS: Major Robert Michael White (AFSN: 0-24589A), United States Air Force, was awarded the Air Force Distinguished Service Medal (Army Design) for exceptionally meritorious and distinguished services to the Government of the United States, in a duty of great responsibility.

General Orders: Department of the Air Force, General Orders No. G-134 (1963)

Service: Air Force

Rank: Major

Air Force Distinguished Service Medal

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Awarded for actions during the Vietnam War

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Air Force Distinguished Service Medal to Major General Robert Michael White (AFSN: 0-24589A), United States Air Force, for exceptionally meritorious and distinguished service in a position of great responsibility to the Government of the United States. General White distinguished himself as Commandant, Air Force Reserve Officers Training Corps, Air University, from 7 November 1972 to 27 February 1975. In this important assignment, the forceful leadership, and the outstanding and dedicated efforts of General White were displayed significantly in the successful direction of the nation's Air Force Reserve Officers Training corps Program under the most complex production objectives and under the most austere conditions in the history of the program. General White's revision of the entire organizational structure and his complete modernization of the program's management system will remain in effect long after his tenure. The singularly distinctive accomplishments of General White reflect the highest credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.

Action Date: November 7, 1972 - February 27, 1975

Service: Air Force

Rank: Major General

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Awarded for actions during the Vietnam War

(Citation Needed) - SYNOPSIS: Colonel Robert Michael White (AFSN: 0-24589A), United States Air Force, was awarded a Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster in lieu of a Second Award of the Air Force Distinguished Service Medal for exceptionally meritorious and distinguished service in a position of great responsibility to the Government of the United States as Chief of Staff of the Fourth Allied Tactical Air Force at Ramstein Air Base, West Germany, from 1975 to 1982. The singularly distinctive accomplishments of General White and his dedicated contributions in the service of his country reflect the highest credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.

Action Date: 1975 - 1981

Service: Air Force

Company: Deputy Commander for Operations

Regiment: 355th Tactical Fighter Wing

Division: Takhli Royal Thai Air Base, Thailand

Silver Star

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Awarded for actions during the Vietnam War

(Citation Needed) - SYNOPSIS: Colonel Robert Michael White (AFSN: 0-24589A), United States Air Force, was awarded the Silver Star for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action against the enemy while serving with the 357th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Takhli Royal Thai Air Base, Thailand, in action on 12 August 1967, in Southeast Asia. Colonel White's gallant actions and dedicated devotion to duty, without regard for his own life, were in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.

General Orders: Headquarters, 7th Air Force, Special Order G-1858 (October 28, 1967)

Action Date: August 12, 1967

Service: Air Force

Rank: Colonel

Company: 357th Tactical Fighter Squadron

Division: Takhli Royal Thai Air Base, Thailand

Silver Star

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Awarded for actions during the Vietnam War

(Citation Needed) - SYNOPSIS: Colonel Robert Michael White (AFSN: 0-24589A), United States Air Force, was awarded a Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster in lieu of a Second Award of the Silver Star for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action against the enemy while serving as a Pilot with the 357th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Takhli Royal Thai Air Base, Thailand, in action on 21 August 1967, in Southeast Asia. Colonel White's gallant actions and dedicated devotion to duty, without regard for his own life, were in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.

General Orders: Headquarters, 7th Air Force, Special Order G-10 (January 2, 1968)

Action Date: August 21, 1967

Service: Air Force

Rank: Colonel

Company: 357th Tactical Fighter Squadron

Division: Takhli Royal Thai Air Base, Thailand

Silver Star

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Awarded for actions during the Vietnam War

(Citation Needed) - SYNOPSIS: Colonel Robert Michael White (AFSN: 0-24589A), United States Air Force, was awarded a Second Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster in lieu of a Third Award of the Silver Star for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action against the enemy while serving as a Pilot with the 357th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Takhli Royal Thai Air Base, Thailand, in action on 21 August 1967, in Southeast Asia. Colonel White's gallant actions and dedicated devotion to duty, without regard for his own life, were in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.

General Orders: Headquarters, 7th Air Force, Special Order G-10 (January 2, 1968)

Action Date: August 23, 1967

Service: Air Force

Rank: Colonel

Company: 357th Tactical Fighter Squadron

Division: Takhli Royal Thai Air Base, Thailand

Silver Star

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Awarded for actions during the Vietnam War

(Citation Needed) - SYNOPSIS: Colonel Robert Michael White (AFSN: 0-24589A), United States Air Force, was awarded a Third Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster in lieu of a Fourth Award of the Silver Star for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action against the enemy while serving as a Pilot with the 357th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Takhli Royal Thai Air Base, Thailand, in action on 7 October 1967, in Southeast Asia. Colonel White's gallant actions and dedicated devotion to duty, without regard for his own life, were in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.

General Orders: Headquarters, 7th Air Force, Special Order G-2198 (December 9, 1967)

Action Date: October 7, 1967

Service: Air Force

Rank: Colonel

Company: 357th Tactical Fighter Squadron

Division: Takhli Royal Thai Air Base, Thailand

Legion of Merit

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(Citation Needed) - SYNOPSIS: Major General Robert Michael White (AFSN: 0-24589A), United States Air Force, was awarded the Legion of Merit for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services to the Government of the United States.

Service: Air Force

Rank: Major General

Distinguished Flying Cross

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Awarded for actions during the World War II

(Citation Needed) - SYNOPSIS: Captain Robert Michael White (AFSN: 0-24589A), United States Army Air Forces, was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight.

Action Date: World War II

Service: Army Air Forces

Rank: Captain

Distinguished Flying Cross

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Awarded for actions during the World War II

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 2, 1926, takes pleasure in presenting a Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster in lieu of a Second Award of the Distinguished Flying Cross to Major Robert Michael White (AFSN: 0-24589A), United States Army Air Forces, for extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight from 13 April 1960 to 7 March 1961. During this period, Major White, despite extreme hazards and unknown aircraft characteristics, flew the experimental X-15 Rocket aircraft in a series of pioneering flights to faster speeds and higher altitudes than man had ever flown, culminating in a speed of 2,905 miles per hour, and a height of 136,500 feet. Major White during these flights obtained critically needed data and technical information invaluable for future manned space flights and for use in the design of future weapons vital to national security. Major White's distinctive accomplishments reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.

Action Date: April 13, 1960 - March 7, 1961

Service: Army Air Forces

Rank: Major

Distinguished Flying Cross

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Awarded for actions during the Vietnam War

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 2, 1926, takes pleasure in presenting a Second Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster in lieu of a Third Award of the Distinguished Flying Cross to Colonel Robert Michael White (AFSN: 0-24589A), United States Air Force, for extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight as an F-105 pilot over North Vietnam on 20 June 1967. On that date, Colonel White led four F-105's through one of the most heavily defended areas in North Vietnam to inflict heavy damage to a vital railroad classification yard. His leadership and calm judgment exhibited during this mission were exemplary in every manner. The professional competence, aerial skill, and devotion to duty displayed by Colonel White reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.

Action Date: June 20, 1967

Service: Air Force

Rank: Colonel

Distinguished Flying Cross

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Awarded for actions during the Vietnam War

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 2, 1926, takes pleasure in presenting a Third Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster in lieu of a Fourth Award of the Distinguished Flying Cross to Colonel Robert Michael White (AFSN: 0-24589A), United States Air Force, for extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight as an F-105 Thunderchief pilot near Bac Giang, North Vietnam on 1 July 1967. Numerous aircraft have been lost to the extremely intense, anti-aircraft artillery protecting this vital railroad bridge. On this date, Colonel White disregarded the intense 85-mm. flak bursting around him, delivered his ordnance with devastating accuracy and destroyed the west end and approach to this important target. The professional competence, aerial skill, and devotion to duty displayed by Colonel White reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.

Action Date: July 1, 1967

Service: Air Force

Rank: Colonel

Distinguished Flying Cross

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Awarded for actions during the Vietnam War

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 2, 1926, takes pleasure in presenting a Fourth Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster in lieu of a Fifth Award of the Distinguished Flying Cross to Colonel Robert Michael White (AFSN: 0-24589A), United States Air Force, for extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight as an F-105 Pilot over North Vietnam on 5 July 1967. On that date, while rolling in on his assigned target, Colonel White experienced extremely heavy and accurate anti-aircraft fire. One member of his flight, and two members of adjacent flights were hit and subsequently downed. Despite the intense opposition, Colonel White placed his ordnance on target and contributed significantly to the destruction of an important rail yard. The professional competence, aerial skill, and devotion to duty displayed by Colonel White reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.

Action Date: July 5, 1967

Service: Air Force

Rank: Colonel

Prisoner of War Medal

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Awarded for actions during the World War II

First Lieutenant Robert Michael White (AFSN: 0-24589A), United States Army Air Forces, was captured after he was shot down over Europe on 23 February 1945 and was held at Stalag Luft 3 in Sagan-Silesia, Bavaria, as a Prisoner of War until his release in April 1945.

Action Date: February 23, 1945 - April 1945

Service: Army Air Forces

Rank: First Lieutenant