Donald Griffith White
Donald G. White, 1st Lieutenant, U.S. Army Air Forces, 0-730689,
339th Fighter Squadron, 347th Fighter Group.
Entered the Service from Kansas.
Finding of Death: December 15, 1945.
Missing in Action: February 23, 1943.
Tablets of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery, Manila, Philippines.
Awards: Air Medal, Purple Heart.
"Don was born on February 12, 1919, the eldest child of Harry and Ruth White. He grew up in Comanche County, attending Sunnyside country school, and graduating from Coldwater High School with the class of 1937. After graduation he became involved full time in the family farming and cattle operation. Don enlisted in the Army Air Corps Reserve in January, 1942, and a month later entered pre-flight training at Santa Ana, California. He was graduated from Luke Field at Phoenix, Arizona, in September, and received his second lieutenant commission. He then volunteered for training in the P-38 fighter plane, and received his training on the west coast. On December 15, Don flew to Honolulu, and from there, joined with other members of the 339th Fighter Squadron, being formed in New Caledonia. On February 23, 1943, while on a mission to accompany bombers on a raid over Bougainville, his plane was hit, and he was listed as missing in action. Don was 24 years of age. Each family member remembers him in different ways, but always... with love. -- Ruth White and Family, Comanche County History
"We had eight children, Donald, Jack, Betty, Wayne, Robert, Catharine, Georgianna and James. Very much a part of our story was WWII, and the loss of our oldest son, Donald. He was a fighter pilot, flying a P-38, and was reported missing in action February 23, 1943. Sadly, this was an experience shared by several other families in the county". -- Ruth White (CCH, page 749)
At right: 339th Fighter Squadron patch, 1942. "The 339th Fighter Squadron was activated on 3 October 1942 and assigned to the 347th Fighter Group throughout WWII. They operated from Henderson Field , Guadalcanal until 29 December 1943; Sterling Island, 15 January 1944; Sanpor, New Guinea, 15 August 1944; and moving to two more bases before ending up in California on 30 December 1945." -- www.flightsuits.com
"December 29 1943: The 339th Fighter Squadron, stationed in New Caledonia since Oct. 3 1942, moves to Guadalcanal.
Detachments had been flying out of Guadalcanal since Oct. 3 1942." -- 13th AAF History. The 339th Squadron is listed in the U.S. Army Battle Participation List for Guadacanal.
Donald G. White was the son of Harry White and Ruth Griffith. His paternal grandparents were William White and Georgianna Clark, who came to Comanche County from Kentucky. His maternal grandparents were Charles Griffith, born in Iowa, and Mary Slobohm, who came to Kansas from West Virginia in 1886.
The Western Star, February 6, 1942.
Enlists in Air Corps.
Donald White, son of Mr. and Mrs. Harry White of Coldwater, went to Wichita on Thursday of last week and enlisted as a cadet in the Army Air Corps. He passed the required examinations and tests there and was sent on to Baker's Field, Calif., to begin active training.
The Western Star,
March 6, 1942:
WILL BE A FLYER
Donald White, who a few weeks ago passed a number of tests at Wichita in
order to get into the air corps, writes his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Harry
White, that he has now passed all the many mental and physical tests at
the Bakersfield air corps training school at Santa Ana, Calif. And the
tests were plenty tough, he adds. So now he will be an air cadet and
will realize his dream of many years---that of being a pilot.
The Western Star, October 23, 1942
"The Letter Box", From Lt. Donald G. White:
Following is a letter from Donald White, son of Mr. and Mrs. Harry White, to his parents. Donald is in the air corps and writes from Glendale, Calif.
October 7, 1942.
Well, I've been around quite a bit since I last wrote you. On Monday before graduation they called us out at 1:30 p.m. and asked us to volunteer to get twin engine time if we wanted to fly P-38s. so I volunteered, and they sent us over to Williams Field that same afternoon, and we graduated in our overalls on the flight line during lunch hour the next day.
We got back to Luke Field Saturday, and the rest of the fellows had already been sent on to the different places, and we got sent out of there Saturday evening.
We drove up to March Field Monday afternoon, and Tuesday afternoon they gave us orders to report here at Glendale and we are going to fly what is said to be the best airplane in the world. This is about five or six miles from Los Angeles and Hollywood. We will leave for Muroe Lake, about 60 miles northeast of here, for six weeks training, and then be sent back here to patrol the coast. My friend Webber and I are in the same squadron.
How is silo filling this year? Are you going to get the silo as full as you did last year?
Must close now. Will mail you the wings sometime this week, Mom.
The Western Star , February 26, 1943.
LIEUT. DONALD WHITE MISSING IN ACTION
Has Been With Fighter Squadron Since December.
Mr. and Mrs. Harry White of Coldwater received the following telegram
Wednesday morning from the War Department:
Washington, D.C. Feb. 23.
"The Secretary of War desires me to express our deep regret that the
Commanding General, United States Army Force in South Pacific area, has
reported your son, Second Lieutenant Donald G. White, air corps, missing
in action. Additional information will be sent when received. THE
Lieut. White enlisted in the Army Air Corps February 11, 1942, and after
completing his training left the United States December 15 for combat duty.
His parents and many friends here anxiously await further word from him.
The Western Star, March 5, 1943.
LIEUT. DONALD WHITE STILL LISTED MISSING
Had Been piloting P-38s Since Being Commissioned
Lieut. Donald G. White, son of Mr. and Mrs. Harry White, is still listed
as missing, no further word having come from the War Department since
their message to the parents dated February 23, as printed last week.
Friends and relatives here are anxiously awaiting further news
Lieut. White enlisted in the Army Air Corps Reserve in January, 1942,
and a month later entered his pre-flight training at Santa Ana, Calif.
He was graduated from Luke Field, at Phoenix, Ariz., the latter part of
last September, and received his second lieutenant commission.
Donald then volunteered for training in the P-38 fighter plane and took
this training on the west coast. The P-38 is a very fast one man plane
equipped with seven or eight machine guns.
On December 15 Donald flew to Honolulu and soon afterward went on to the
Australia war zone. In a letter dated February 5, Donald wrote to his
parents, in part: "Some other pilots here who know Ralph Sooter say that
he is coming here before long. --- I even have a one man life raft
attached to my parachute. Tell the kids if I ever get back to Australia
I will send some souvenirs."
Lieut. White was 24 years of age on February 12.
The Missing Air Crew Report for Lt. Donald G. White is MACR# 583. Plane: P-38, Group: 347. The following copy is courtesy of Paul Roales.
Missing Air Crew Report for Lt. Donald G. White, MACR# 583
This copy from the National Archives is courtesy of Paul Roales.
Harry Thomas White, father of Lt. Donald Griffith White, USAAF.
Documents from a P-38 Crash, courtesy of Paul Roales.
JPAC http://www.jpac.pacom.mil/index.php?rd=1 is a government agency (Joint
Prisoners of War, Missing in Action Accounting Command) located in Hawaii
which is responsible for identifying WW2, Korean War and Vietnam MIA remains.
Paul Roales is seeking to contact the family of Donald G. White to see if they would be willing to donate a DNA sample to JPAC for
possible use in identifying the remains of a pilot from a P-38 crash site which may be those of Lt. Donald G. White so that the remains can be returned to the pilot's family for burial.
The above news articles were transcribed for this site by Shirley Brier.
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World War II Casualties