Event will benefit family of deceased Marine
For lacrosse fans who enjoy watching the younger athletes play the game, Roncalli Stadium is where they will want to be Saturday. And by attending the four-game Salute Shootout, they will be honoring all veterans while supporting the family of A.J. White, a Marine who died Feb. 14 after losing his battle to chronic health issues stemming from his military service.
The competition gets under way at 11 a.m. with Roncalli’s junior varsity squad taking the field. Junior Rebel teams (third- through eighth-graders) will also compete.
White was a member of St. Jude Parish with his wife, Jessica, and children Addison, Mackenzie and Camden. He was born in Fort Wayne, graduated from Skyline High School in Issaquah, Wash., in 2002 and joined the Marines in 2008.
He was assigned to the 6th Marine Regiment, Headquarters Company and moved his family to Camp Lejeune, N.C., in April 2009. Deployed to Ramadi, Iraq, as part of Regimental Combat Team 6, he and his squad were responsible for supplying more than $1 billion worth of gear and supplies to American troops.
He and his unit went on various peacekeeping missions, helped build a school and handed out soccer balls and coloring books and crayons to children. He returned home in October 2009 and was suffering from a knee and back injury that never did heal correctly. The ailment resulted in his temporary retirement from the military in October 2011, said his wife, who added that her husband also suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and ongoing pulmonary issues from the constant exposure to dust storms and burn pits.
White, who found joy in making others laugh, then relocated his family to the Southside. When a reassessment in 2012
determined that his injuries were not going to improve, he retired. The news was crushing because he had a strong drive to serve his country.
A peer mentor for the Wounded Warrior Project, he was a very giving man, surprising his 95-year-old neighbor with Christmas lights on her home, something she had never had.
Mrs. White said the last year of her husband’s life was rough because he was in and out of the hospital with various health concerns, including poor cognitive function, breathing issues and blackouts.
But by the grace of God he felt good enough on the last three days of life to spend quality time with his family.
A week after her husband died, Mrs. White posted on her Go Fund Me page, “I have been overwhelmed with the love and support over the past week. I was terrified I would not be able to provide him the proper funeral that he deserved because he did not have life insurance. We thought his active duty life insurance carried over with his retirement and just found out in the past couple of months it had not. I am so thankful for the support that family, friends and strangers has provided to our three beautiful children and myself to allow us to provide him such a beautiful celebration of his life.”