KALISPELL, Mont. – An injured soldier who struggled daily to overcome the physical challenges left by an explosion in Iraq died last Sunday morning in his sleep, two weeks before a home being built for him and his family was due to be finished.
Sgt. Kevin White, 29, leaves behind his wife, Juliane, and a 15-month-old son, Liam, who now will move into their new home without him.
White, a paratrooper in Delta Company, 2nd Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, was the most severely injured of the soldiers involved in an April 2007 ambush of their convoy in Iraq.
He was on his second tour when a piece of a rocket warhead went through his shoulder and into his lung. He also suffered a brain injury.
He was released from duty with a medical retirement, and the extent of his injuries made it impossible to work. With medical bills mounting and his wife pregnant, White’s in-laws, Ann and O.T. Green, decided to build them a house next door to their home near Lakeside, Mont.
The Greens took out a second mortgage on their own home, emptied Ann’s retirement account and started building in 2010.
“We’re about two weeks away from being finished,” O.T. Green said.
The White family has been living with the Greens while the home was being built.
It will be a couple of weeks before the results of an autopsy are known to determine a cause of death, Green said.
The family is thankful to have some happy memories from the day before White’s death. They all had gone to a gun show at the fairgrounds in Kalispell, where White had purchased a pocket watch.
“He was happy and upbeat,” Green said. “He signed up to go turkey hunting with a group of other veterans.”
As they left the gun show, White announced in the parking lot: “We need a group hug.”
So the entire family gathered for what would be their final embrace.
“It’s a wonderful memory to have,” Green said.