Lt. Nathan White, a Church member and Naval aviator who died April 2 when his fighter jet was shot down over Iraq, was laid to rest April 22 in Arlington National Cemetery near Washington D.C.
His faithful service and supreme sacrifice afforded Lt. White full military honors, including a horse-drawn caisson, a military band, a missing-man formation flyover by four Navy jets and a seven-member military firing team, according to Stars and Stripes.
"Thirty years ago, I held that little boy and gave him the name of Nathan," said Lt. White's father, Dennis White, as he dedicated his son's grave.
"I know Nathan would not have wanted me to do this," said Brother White, between choking on tears. A member of the Abilene Texas Stake Presidency, Brother White called the grassy plot where Lt. White was buried in Section 60 of the revered cemetery a "sacred and special" place, according to Stars and Stripes.
Lt. White's wife, Akiko, and their three children attended the Arlington service. Vice Adm. Gerry Hoewing reportedly kneeled before Sister White and presented her with the flag that had draped Lt. White's coffin. She was also given her husband's Purple Heart medal at the service.
A lifelong Church member, Nathan White served a mission to Osaka, Japan, mastering the language and developing a love for the Japanese people. After his mission he enrolled at Brigham Young University, graduating in Japanese with honors. He met Akiko at BYU and they later married. The son of an aviator, Nathan White would secure a commission in the Navy and excel in his pilot training. He was attached to the USS Kitty Hawk at the time of his death.
Friends and family also gathered for memorial services at opposite ends of the globe to mourn Lt. White's passing. Several hundred military and civilian personnel came together April 17 at a military base in Atsugi, Japan, to say goodbye to their fellow sailor and friend, according to Navy Newstand.
"[Lt. White] was devoted to everything he truly believed in, especially his family, and his devotion never swayed" said Lt. j.g. Mike Odom.
Lt. Russell Hale, a Naval chaplain, delivered the invocation at Brother White's service, saying, "We are fiercely proud of Nathan, that in a strange land, befriended by few, assaulted by many, motivated by that sense of greater love, he gave his life in a cause of justice and freedom. Men such as Nathan make real the words that we are a nation under God, striving for liberty and justice for all," the Navy Newstand reported.
On April 27, hundreds squeezed into the auditorium at Cooper High School Lt. White's alma mater to join in tribute. The Abilene Reporter-News reported that friends and Church associates remembered Lt. White as gifted, intelligent, courageous and kind.
"He had a magnetic personality and could light up a room with his presence," said Ken Mitchell, a brother-in-law.
Additional information and photos of Lt. White can be found at www.ltnathanwhitechildrensfund.org.