Rear Admiral Jon White is synonymous with the word leader. The word does not describe him; it defines him. It runs through his veins. He breathes it in with each breath. It comes as naturally to him as flight comes to an eagle soaring in the skies above.
He is not a boisterous man, nor one distracted by petty praise. The son of a Purple Heart recipient from World War II, he has always kept the Sailor at the fore of every decision and every action he has taken over more than three decades in uniform. The same year he was selected for Flag, he was also bestowed the title of Honorary Chief Petty Officer. Both accomplishments are listed in his official biography and hold equal value in his heart.
I have seen him confront personal and professional crises with a calm, dignified grace that inspired those who looked to him for leadership. He never disappointed, never faltered, and never showed a hint of lamentation or quest for pity. Instead, he smiled and exhorted others to follow his example. And follow they did.
Even as the coach of a gang of misfits, he inspired greatness (click on the image to read the story of the team he coached, the mighty Sea Slugs).
He retires on Friday, and the Navy will instantly become worse for it because of the void he will leave behind.
No, that is not true. The Navy will be better because of the legacy he leaves in his wake. Many Sailors, including this one, are better off because of him too. The last line of his official biography says, “White wears numerous personal and unit awards, which are all a tribute to the Sailors, Marines, Airmen, Soldiers, Coast Guardsmen, and civilians he has served alongside throughout his career.”
That pretty much says it all.
Congratulations, Admiral White. It was an honor to serve with you, and an even greater honor to call you my friend.