PFC Melvin Jay White was born in Kentucky on May 19, 1924, and entered service June 7, 1943. He was a paratrooper in the 17th Airborne Division. The unit had been activated on April 15, 1943 and arrived in Britain in August, 1944. However, in a note written by his wife, it states that he left for the war zone on May 19, 1944, his birthday. The 17th was stationed there from August 25 to December 23, 1944. The 507th was part of the 82nd Division initially, and dropped on D Day. It is not known if White was part of the unit at that time. Since he arrived in May, he may well have jumped on D Day.
From December 23 to 25, elements of the 17th Airborne division were flown to the Reims area in France in night flights. These elements closed in at Mourmelon. After taking over the defense of the Meuse River sector from Givet to Verdun, 25 December, the 17th moved to Neufchateau, Belgium, then marched in the snow to Morher, relieving the 28th Infantry Division on 3 January, 1945.
The Division entered the Ardennes campaign (Battle of the Bulge) 4 January to 9 January, at the Battle of Dead Man's Ridge. They captured several small Belgian towns and entered Flamierge on 7 January, but enemy counterattacks necessitated a withdrawal. It was during this action in Belgium that White was killed.
This group includes White's officially small machine engraved posthumous Purple Heart in its presentation case with ribbon bar. Paperwork with the group includes his died in service certificate, pay record book, government transmittal letters to Mrs.Nellie White, personal effects letter, General Marshall sympathy card, ABMC letter dated 1973 to Mrs. White (now Patton) regarding flowers at his grave site, a letter sent to his wife just before he was killed, and a note from Nellie. Also included is a 17th Airborne patch and rocker.