Alabama Gazette - The people's voice of reason

Honoring our Heroes

 

February 1, 2021 | View PDF

MAJ Ell White II & SGM Lenora White

Major Ell White II

Major Ell White II served 25 years, 11 months, and 11 days in the U.S. military including over four years in the Navy, over five years in the AL Army National Guard and over 15 years in the Army. His Military Area of Concentration (AOC) was Senior Human Resources Manager. His military medals, awards, and ribbons included: Bronze Star and Combat Action Badge after participating in firefights, ambushes, and combat operations during his tour throughout Areas of Operation in Afghanistan. Other awards included Navy Enlisted Aviation Warfare Specialist Badge, Army Parachutist Badge, Army Arctic Warfare Tab, Meritorious Service Medal, two Army Commendation Medals, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Campaign Star, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Medal, Joint Service Achievement Medal, two Army Achievement Medals, Joint Meritorious Unit Award, Navy Unit Commendation Award, Army Superior Unit Award, Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation Award, Navy Battle “E” Award, Navy Good Conduct Medal, two National Defense Service Medals, two Southwest Asia Service Medals, Armed Forces Service Medal, Navy Sea Service Deployment Ribbon Award, four Army Service Ribbons, four Overseas Service Ribbon Awards and NATO Medal. He was also awarded the Kuwait Liberation Medal from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Kingdom of Kuwait Liberation Medal from the Kingdom of Kuwait.

Major White was born May 27, 1972, in Chicago, IL, to his parents, Henry Oliver White and Dolly Mae (Donaldson) White and he was reared there until the age of six when his family moved to the Joffree Community in rural Prattville, AL (Autauga County), where he graduated from Billingsley High School with an Advanced Diploma. He enlisted in the AL Army National Guard June 18, 1989, and he served with ALARNG while attending high school and college. He received an Associate Degree of Arts and General Studies from Marion Military Institute in May 1997 and a Bachelor of Arts in Humanities and Social Studies from Auburn University at Montgomery in September 1999. He received a Master of Arts, Human Resources Management from Webster University in April 2007.

Major White has received academic honors and awards from institutions and other organizations. These included: Honorary Doctorate Degree of Divinity, Universal Life Church, Omicron Delta Kappa, membership in National Leadership Honor Society, Adjutant General Officer’s Basic Course, Commandants List, Department of the Army ROTC Distinguished Military Student Award, The Society of the War of 1812, the Outstanding Student Award, the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution Silver ROTC Medal and the Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society membership.

Major White began active duty with the Navy September 18, 1990. His Navy Boot Camp was at the Naval Training Center at Orlando, FL, followed by Seamanship Apprenticeship Training simultaneous training for three months. He reported to the USS Yellowstone AD-41, at Jeddah, Saudi Arabia during Operation DESERT STORM. After graduating from Broadened Opportunity Officer Selection training at San Diego, CA, he reported to the USS Kitty Hawk CV-63 homeport at North Island, San Diego, CA, with a western Pacific cruise in 1994.

His service with the AL Army National Guard included work with the 1241st Postal Company, in Montgomery, AL, his senior year of high school 1989-1990. He served with the 1994th Personnel Service Detachment at Montgomery, AL 1995-1998, and he served with the 214th Military Police (CS) Company in Alexander City, AL, 1998-1999.

Major White’s service in the Army included three deployments, namely, to Korea, Kuwait, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He served with HHD 1st Personnel Group at Fort Lewis, WA, HHC, 8th Personnel Command at Camp Coiner, Korea, Bravo Detachment, 516th Personnel Services Battalion, at Camp Humphreys, Korea, Soldier Support Institute, Captain Career Course, at Fort Jackson, SC, the Coalition Forces Land Component, Third U.S. Army, at Camp Arifijan, Kuwait, HHC, U.S. Army Forces Command at Fort McPherson, GA, Military Transition Team Training, 1st Infantry Division, at Fort Riley, KS, 2nd Brigade, Regional Corps Advisory Command-East at Patika and Ghazni Providences, Afghanistan, Senior Human Resource Management Course, Soldier Support Institute at Fort Jackson, SC, HHC, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, HHC, 16th Combat Aviation Brigade, Student Detachment, Command General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, KS, and HHC, Joint Task Fort-North. Major White retired with an honorary discharge from military service at Fort Bliss, TX, December 31, 2014.

Following retirement from military service, Major White has continued to serve as the Fatherhood Program Facilitator with the Family Support Center at Prattville, AL, since September 2020. He served as Human Trafficking Advocate at the One Place Family Justice Center in Montgomery, AL, August 2019-August 2020. He was an Adjunct Professor at Alabama State University August 2015-August 2018, and he has served as a Residential Services Coordinator for Montgomery ARC in Montgomery, AL March 2015-December 2015.

Major White and his wife, Lenora, have been married almost six years, and he has two sons, one goddaughter and one stepson. He travels, actively gives back to his communities in a myriad of selfless ways, spends time with his youngest son and goddaughter and rides his motorcycle. He serves on the Ministerial Staff at the Ambassador Worship Center in Prattville, AL. He has been active in community service as vice-president of the Billingsley High School Reunion and Scholarships Committee, Board Member of the Central AL Crime Stoppers, Board Member of the Autauga County Democratic National Committee, Veteran Mentor of the 19th Judicial Circuit and a volunteer for the Salvation Army aiding disaster clients affected by Hurricane Laura in Lake Charles, LA and assisting homeless individuals and families. White also cares deeply about his communities by helping to feed the homeless, purchasing food baskets and distributing food baskets to less fortunate families, purchasing and passing out bookbags to children in need, and ministering, helping, and assisting homeless as well as domestic violence and trafficking victims.

Major White has been recognized for his extensive community service as exemplified by receiving the following awards: AL News Network & Vance Law Firm “Pay It Forward” recipient, Shaaban Temple #103 Outstanding Service Certificate, Desert of Alabama Noble of the Year, Standing Together Against Rape (S.T.A.R.), Victim Advocate Appreciation Certificate, Ft. Bliss Army Community Service, Ft. Bliss Special Olympics Volunteer Appreciation Certificate, El Paso Holy Arch Masons Chapter No. 90, Loyal Service and Support Appreciation Certificate, Fort McPherson and Fort Gillem, Volunteer Appreciation Certificate and Deputy Chief of Staff, G-1, Meritorious Service Alumni Award.

When reflecting upon his military service, Major White says, “Serving is a calling and an honor. Serving is a continual calling. Serving is not for the weak-hearted. Serving has been an intimate, microcosmic relationship of the universe, the good, the bad and the ugly.”

Sergeant Major Lenora White

Sergeant Major (SGM) Lenora White served 28 years in the U.S. Army with deployments to Korea for three tours, Saudi Arabia during Desert Shield/Desert Storm and Iraq for two tours. Her military Occupational Specialty was Material Storage and Handling Specialist (76V), Automated Logistic Specialist (92A) and Senior Logistics Supervisor (92Z). SGM White’s medals, awards, badges and ribbons included: Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal (2nd Award), Army Commendation Medal (6th Award), Army Achievement Medal (2nd Award), Army Superior Unit Award, Iraq Campaign Medal w/Campaign Star (3rd Award), Kuwait Liberation Medal, South West Asia Service Medal w/Bronze Service Star (3rd Award), Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Korea Defense Service Medal, Non-Commissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon (4th Award), Recruiter Gold Badge, Recruiter Ring, Morrell Award Medallion for Recruiting Excellence and the Air Assault Badge.

SGM White was born May 19, 1966, in Chicago, IL, to her parents, Lenon and Ora Diane Gardner, where she was reared until the age of four when she lived in St. Louis, MO, for two years and then moved to Peoria, IL, where she was reared and finished Peoria Manual High School in May 1985.

SGM White’s military service began when she volunteered and enlisted in the U.S. Army January 12, 1988, with Basic Training at Fort McClellan, AL. Her duty stations included assignments with the 102nd MI at Camp Hovey, Korea, HHC 8/101st Avn Bn, Fort Campbell, KY, Charlie Company 702nd Main Support Bn, Camp Casey, Korea, HHC 8/101st Avn Bn Fort Campbell, KY, 98th Maintenance Company, Fort Richardson, AK, Seattle Recruiting Battalion, Lacey Recruiting Company, Lacy, WA, 8th Army Wightman NCO Academy (Warrior Leaders Course, Camp Jackson, Korea, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Fort Hood, TX, 565th Quartermaster Company, Fort Hood, TX, HHC III Corps, Fort Hood, TX, and 32nd Army Air Missile and Defense Command, Fort Bliss, TX.

SGM White’s deployments and combat locations were: 8/101st Avn BN, Fort Campbell, KY-Deployment to Saudi Arabia Desert Shield/Desert Storm, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), Fort Hood, TX-Balad, Iraq, (OIF), 565th Quartermaster Company, Fort Hood, TX-Talill, Iraq (OIF), HHC III Corps and Fort Hood, TX-Victory Base (Bagdad, Iraq). She was a Convoy Security

Company First Sergeant, which protected supply distribution operations with armed convoy vehicles, serving a year of intensive convoy operations on the most dangerous MSRs in Iraq. SGM White retired from military service February 1, 2016.

SGM White has an extensive educational background. While serving in the military, she graduated from the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy, Class 59 at Fort Bliss, TX. She has attended the First Sergeant Course, the Operation Contract Support Course, Tactical Combat Service Support Communications Course, Total Army Instructor Training Course, Transport/Storage of Hazardous Material Course, Equal Opportunity Course and Unit Prevention Leaders Course. SGM White received a B.S. Degree in Criminal Justice from Troy University in 2008 and a Master of Arts Degree in Management and Leadership from Webster University in 2008. She is currently enrolled in a master’s degree counseling program at Troy University-Montgomery. She started in the Clinical Mental Health program to later serve veterans and juveniles and switched over to the School Counseling program because of her experience as a Senior JROTC Instructor. SGM White has served as the Senior JROTC instructor at Hillcrest High School in Evergreen, AL, and now she currently serves as the Senior JROTC instructor at Calhoun High School at Letohatchee, AL.

SGM White and her husband, Major Ell White III, have been married almost six years. She has two stepsons, Ell White III and Devin White, and one son, 1st Lt Christopher J. Johnson, who is currently serving as a U.S. Army Commissioned ¬Officer in Field Artillery Officer at Ft. Hood, TX. Since her military retirement, she has held memberships in churches and other organizations. She continues to serve her community through mentorship of youth and through assisting with Voter’s Registration Initiatives, and she continues with her husband delivering food to those in need including veterans. She has mentored girls between the ages of eight and 12 at the West End Boys and Girls Club of Montgomery, and she serves her community through membership in the Ambassador Worship Center at Prattville, AL. She is a member of Beta Nu Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. where she is the Chair of #CAP College Admission Process. She is also a member of Shaaban Court #126, Daughters of the Auxiliary Court, Oasis of Montgomery, Desert of Alabama, where she is the 1st LT Commandress. She recently became a member of Kappa Epsilon Psi Military Sorority, Inc. The Elite Professionals, and she is a member of Alpha Kappa Chapter, Montgomery, AL.

SGM White describes her military experiences saying, “The major highlights of my military career were teaching at the NCO Academy which is where it all starts for junior leaders. This was the foundation of leadership where I was able to coach, teach, and mentor our Junior NCO’s to grow into our future leaders. I also genuinely enjoyed being a First Sergeant which was where I was able to lead our great Army soldiers, as well as coach, teach and mentor them into our future leaders. As a result of being a great First Sergeant and leader, several of my NCO’s graduated from the US Army Sergeants Major Course, and I am so proud of their accomplishments. This is success to me. My success was seeing my soldiers and NCOs become successful leaders in the US Army. As I have stated, my soldiers’ success in the military is my greatest highlight and accomplishment, and I would not trade my 28 years in the military for anything. It has truly been a blessing from God to be able to serve my country. I have always told my soldiers and NCOs, ‘Always lead from the front and be an example for soldiers to emulate, and always remember if your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.’”

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COL John A. Brantner & COL Karen S. Brantner

Colonel John A. Brantner

Col John A. Brantner served 30 years in the United States Air Force. His Air Force Specialty Code (AFSC) was first as an Avionics Officer with the gunship aircraft, and he then served with aircraft maintenance and finally education and training with A.F.R.O.T.C. for the last six years of his military career. Col Brantner served a one-year tour and eight additional TDY tours in Vietnam. His military decorations, medals, awards and ribbons included: the Legion of Merit with Two Oak Leaf Clusters, Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal with Two Oak Leaf Clusters, Air Force Commendation Medal, Humanitarian Service Award, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, the Air Force Organizational Excellence Award, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal with service star, Vietnam Service Medal with for four service stars, Air Force Overseas Ribbon-Short, Air Force Overseas Ribbon-Long, Air Force Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon, Air Force Training Ribbon, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with service star and Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal.

Col Brantner was born November 12, 1944, to his parents, Jack and Kathleen Brantner, in Ft. Walton Beach at Eglin Air Force Base (AFB) FL. Because his father served in the Air Force, his family moved frequently within the United States and abroad, and he graduated from South Dade High School, in Homestead, FL, in 1963 followed by graduation from the University of AL in 1967 with a B.S. Degree in biology. Later, he earned a Master of Science Degree in Management from the University of Southern California and was a resident graduate of the Squadron Officer School, Air Command and Staff College and the Air War College.

Following his university graduation as a Distinguished Graduate in the Air Force R.O.T.C., he was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant beginning his military service at Kessler AFB, Biloxi, MS, where he completed training at the Avionics Maintenance School. He was then reassigned to Lockbourne AFB, OH, with the 18th Special Operations Squadron with AC-119K gunships. In December 1969, Col Brantner was transferred to Phan Rang Air Force Base, Republic of Vietnam as chief of the Avionics Maintenance Branch serving with the 14th Special Operations Wing for one year, December 1969-December 1970.

Col Brantner served at the Headquarters Pacific Air Forces at Hickam AFB, HI, for 3.5 years from December 1970 until 1974 as a Maintenance Staff Officer directly supporting the AC-130 and the AC-119 gunship aircraft Southeast Asia. Next, he was selected for faculty duty with the Squadron Officer School at Maxwell AFB, AL, and served as a Section Commander and then as Chief of the Programs Branch followed by attendance at the Air Command and Staff College. After graduation in 1979, Col Brantner was transferred to the 33rd Tactical Fighter Wing at Eglin AFB, FL, serving as an F-15 maintenance supervisor, Equipment

Maintenance Squadron Commander, Aircraft Generation Squadron Commander and then as the Assistant Deputy Commander for Maintenance. In July 1982, Col Brantner was assigned to Randolph AFB, TX, as Chief of Maintenance Management Division, Headquarters Air Training Command (ATC) and Director of ATC’s Maintenance Management School.

Col Brantner was selected to attend the Air War College at Maxwell AFB, AL, beginning in August 1984 and remained there on the faculty. At the Air War College, he served in a variety of key positions in developing, scheduling and teaching the curriculum. He was Chief of Resource Management Studies, Director of Curriculum Programs and Dean/Director of Associate Programs in charge of the Air War College seminar and correspondence studies worldwide. His responsibilities included the senior officer professional military education for 1,600 seminar students and an additional 2,200 students enrolled by correspondence.

Col Brantner’s final years of military service were with the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (A.F.R.O.T.C.), which is the largest and oldest source of commissioned officers for the Air Force. More than 15,800 cadets are trained and educated at 133 colleges and university campuses throughout the United States and Puerto Rico. The Jr. R.O.T.C. provides citizenship training and an aerospace science program for more than 91,000 high schools students at 609 high schools and at selected Department of Defense dependent schools overseas. Col Brantner served as the commander of Air Force R.O.T.C. Detachment 10, University of AL from June 1991 to 1994. He served at Maxwell AFB, AL, as the commander of the Air Force R.O.T.C. Southeast Region from August 1994 to May 1996 and vice commander of Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps from May 1996 to February 1997. Completing his military service as commander of the Air Force R.O.T.C. from February 1997 to July 1997, Col. Brantner retired from military service July 1997 at Maxwell AFB, AL.

Col Brantner has been married to his wife, Col Karen Brantner for more than 41 years, and they have one son, David. Since his retirement from military service, he completed a four-month Master Gardening course at Jasmine Hill Gardens at Wetumpka, AL. He has been actively involved in Christian service with membership at Frazer Memorial United Methodist Church where he has served on the staff for five years using his Master Gardening skills in the landscaping of its campus. He is currently the President of the Sowers Sunday School Class, and he has served on the Board of the Family Teams for Life/Christ whose purpose is to build loving Christian families. He and his wife have gone on mission trips to Cuba and Haiti, and both work with children in Frazer’s Transformation Montgomery, a community development program. He also is an avid pickle ball player winning gold medals in single and doubles in Alabama’s Senior Olympics.

Col Brantner reflects upon his military service saying, “My Dad was my hero and an excellent role model for me. He was a patriot who loved America and served proudly in the USAF for 27 years. When I was getting ready to graduate from college, I chose to follow in my father’s footsteps and serve our great nation in the USAF. It proved to be challenging and rewarding and one of the best decisions of my life.”

Colonel Karen S. Brantner

Col Karen S. Brantner served 24 years in the United States Air Force including one tour at the Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base (RTAFB) in Korat, Thailand, during the Vietnam War. Her Air Force Specialty Code (AFSC) included Administrative Officer, Executive Support Officer, Public Affairs Officer, Education and Training Officer and Plans Officer. Her military awards, decorations and ribbons were: Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal with three oak leaf clusters, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Bronze Star Medal, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, Air Force Organizational Excellence Award, Vietnam Service Medal, Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with palm and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal.

Col Brantner was born February 16, 1945, in Wausau, WI to her parents, Marvin and Hazel Sandquist. She was reared in rural WI near Aniwa, WI, and graduated from Birnamwood High School in 1962. She received a B.S. Degree in Secondary Education from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, WI, in 1966 and a M.A. Degree in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In addition, she graduated from the United States Air Force Squadron Officer School with honors, was a distinguished graduate of the Air Command and Staff College and completed the Air War College seminar program in 1984 with an outstanding rating.

Col Brantner volunteered for military service enlisting as an officer candidate in the United States Air Force August 11, 1966, in Wausau, WI, and she was commissioned as a 2nd Lt. October 21, 1966, through the Officer Training School at Lackland Air Force Base (AFB), TX. Subsequently, she was assigned for two years as administrative officer for Headquarters Squadron, 3345th Technical School, Chanute Air AFB, IL. In 1968, she became administrative officer for the 553rd Reconnaissance Wing, Korat Thai Air Force Base, Thailand. Her next overseas assignment was service as assistant executive officer for the Operations Division at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) in Mons, Belgium for four years where she served with military and civilian personnel from 13 NATO countries.

Col Brantner returned to the USA in June 1973 to attend the Squadron Officer School at Maxwell AFB, AL, followed by an 18-month Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) Masters Degree program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She was then transferred to Langley AFB, VA, to serve as the deputy public affairs officer for the 4500th Air Base Wing and subsequently in the same capacity for the 1st Tactical Fighter Wing.

From November 1977 to August 1979, Col Brantner was assigned to the faculty of the Squadron Officer School (SOS), Maxwell AFB, AL, where she served as the section commander, deputy wing chief and finally as the first female squadron commander in the history of SOS. From August 1979-June 1980, she attended the Air Command and Staff College (ACSC) at Maxwell AFB.

After graduation, Col Brantner was transferred to Headquarters, Armament Division at Eglin AFB, FL, as deputy director of public affairs and chief of media relations. In December 1980, she was selected as the base executive officer and transferred to the 3201st Air Base Group, the largest support organization in Air Force Systems Command. In June 1982, she was transferred to Randolph AFB, TX, to serve as the chief of publicity for USAF Recruiting Service until she joined the Air War College (AWC) faculty at Maxwell AFB, AL, in June 1985 where she was Chief of Evaluation and Chief of Plans. She served with extremely sharp faculty and staff as well as carefully selected International Officers and students from other branches of the military. Her final assignment was Director of Plans, Programs and Mission Support at the AWC before retiring January 31, 1991, at Maxwell AFB, AL.

Col. Brantner has been married to her husband, Col John A. Brantner, for over 41 years, and they have one son, David. Since her military retirement, she has focused on their family, both immediate and extended. Being an available and supportive wife and mother has been her top priority. As an active member of Frazer Memorial United Methodist Church, she is a member of the Sowers Sunday School Class, has engaged in one-on-one mentoring with younger women, premarriage mentoring for engaged couples with her husband, gone on missions trips to Cuba and supported Transformation Montgomery, a community development program. She has participated in Moms-in-Touch for the past 22 years, a group of friends that meet on a regular basis to pray for their families as well as her church, city, state and country. Throughout this service, she has welcomed time for spiritual growth through Bible study and prayer. She serves the Lord in many ways and loves investing in the lives of others.

Col Brantner’s conclusions about her military service are, “Serving this wonderful country of ours was indeed a privilege of a lifetime. The benefits that I received far exceeded my highest expectations. My military service opened my eyes to how blessed that I am to live in America. I had opportunities to travel to many countries in different parts of the world and to meet so many wonderful people. The Air Force trained me to do a wide variety of new things, namely: It sent me for a Master of Arts Degree in Journalism, helped develop my leadership skills and gave me the chance to practice and teach good communication skills, help recruit quality people for the Air Force and make life-long friends. What a remarkable adventure it was! I don’t take for granted the freedoms that we Americans enjoy, and I have great respect and appreciation for the military men and women who serve us today.”

 

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