Driving force behind new Infantry Museum says "mission accomplished"
COLUMBUS, GA - Major general Jerry White, retired Fort Benning commander and the driving force behind the new National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center, will retire Dec. 31, 2010.
White has served as the National Infantry Foundation's President and Chairman since 1998.
White had a long and decorated career in the Army, culminating with his appointment as commander of the U.S. Army Infantry Center where he served from 1991 to 1994. After retiring from the Army he led the Chattahoochee Valley United Way for seven years.
But for many years, White's goal was to create a permanent memorial that would not only honor the Infantry in a way befitting its heritage, but also help the country understand the service and sacrifice of the American Soldier and his family.
After years of fund raising, planning and negotiations with the Army, White's dream was realized. The $100 million museum opened to great fanfare on June 19, 2009.
Though largely credited for the museum's success, White deflects the praise.
"This is not about me," he said at a ceremony held in his honor in April. "It is about the Soldier. It has always been about the Soldier. They deserve to be honored in a place as grand as their legacy."
White's handprints are everywhere throughout the 200 acre site. Nearly every day he patrols the Museum making sure the Soldiers he loves are treated in a way befitting their sacrifice.
Board member and businessman Jerry Newman said of White, "He had a dream and he did it. Not many people can say that in their lives. In 100 years, Jerry White will be remembered as the man who built that beautiful museum."
White said deciding to leave the museum was the toughest decision of his life. However, "It's time to look ahead to our future," he said. "It's time for the museum to grow into itself, to be more than just a reflection of my dreams and goals.
"I have never been prouder than I was the day we opened the doors last year. This has been at the heart of who I am for so long. But, mission accomplished. Time to move on."
The museum will continue to operate under the leadership of Executive Director Ben Williams and Executive Vice President Greg Camp – who both have been with the project since its inception – until a replacement for White is named.