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November 1, 2012

After 46 years, a soldier comes home

(Continued)

NORMAN —

The younger James Whited grew up, went to school at the University of Oklahoma and eventually adopted a nomadic life while climbing the ranks at IBM. Carolyn married Navy veteran Ben WIllige two years after she lost her father. The couple have built their life in Norman.

While their memories of their father are different, both children agree that he was a man of conviction and independent thought.

“I will always remember that he was adamant about the fact that I go to church every Sunday,” Carolyn Willige said. “That’s why I have such a loving relationship with my Savior.

“Because of that relationship, I have such a beautiful, beautiful life,” she said. “I owe him the thanks for that.”

Ben Willige said he never got to meet his father-in-law in person.

“But, I’ve read so much about him, pouring over all these military records that I feel like I know him,” Ben Willige said. “Here’s something I think is sort of remarkable.

“During World War II he was flying missions over the Gulf of Tonkin. That’s where his military career began: Vietnam,” he said. “Then 20 years later, he’s in Vietnam again and that’s where his service ended.

“He came full circle with his military career.”

 

Friday, Nov. 2, 2012

As the Patriot Guard stands in silent tribute, friends and family will gather at 10:30 a.m. Friday to render final honors to a son of Oklahoma.

With echoes of a rifle salute and the bugler sounding taps, Army Maj. James Lafayette Whited will be laid to rest in the grave that has borne his headstone since a memorial service in December 1966.

“You know, we came to the cemetery on Memorial Day and brought Mother,” son James Whited said. “She said recently, ‘At least now we won’t go to an empty grave.’”

 

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