Jasper White Few people have had much impact on me. One of them that did was Jasper White. He had a favorite phrase he used: 'Come a day, come a day, help me somebody.' I met him in Korea. It was 1952 and I was made squad leader of an infantry squad. The platoon sergeant told me I had one man in the squad who was an old-timer but didn't think he'd be much help to me. "That's Jasper White," he said, "He's been busted a number of times, he's a regular screw-up." Third squad, third platoon was mine. Due to some unfortunate situations and the Army’s rotation policy, third squad had a full compliment of twelve men, but ten of them were new recruits. Normally a platoon sergeant would look at this situation and spread the new men around among the sixteen squads that made up a company. In this case, however, all squads had a compliment of new men and most of the new men in third squad had come in together and wanted to stay together. The first thing I did was look up Jasper White. I introduced myself to him, shook hands and asked him to take a walk with me. "Who laid out the fields of fire for the automatics,” I asked? "Platoon sergeant,” he answered. "Weapons platoon got anything attached to us,” I wanted to know. “They do, a light 30,” Jasper said. “Where’s it spotted?” "Down on the end, next to a deep ravine. Our squad is the last one. Across the canyon a group of Australians have moved in,” he informed me. "You satisfied with with the light 30 down there?” He gave me a look, then said, “I’m a private, privates don’t know about things like fields of fire, or command. Privates know to do what they are told. They know to salute officers.” "I understand,” I said, “But if we were attacked tonight, in your opinion, where’s the best place to have our automatic weapons to protect my ass?” "Come a day, come a day, help me somebody, you’re not going to let up, are you? The BAR is okay, he said. The machine gun ought to be moved a little toward left of center. That ravine is mined, nobody coming up that way. Toward the middle is more of a slope, a better field of fire, the view there is wide open, all the way down. It's a better position.” "You want to see to it or you want me to?” I’ll take care of it, boss, anything else?” "Yes, I said, “Before dark settles in, I’m going to meet the rest of the squad, like you to stick close to me for a while, till I get my feet on the ground.” "Come a day, come a day, help me somebody. We done got us a squad leader.” and he was off. In the course of the next few weeks I learned a great deal about Jasper and from Jasper. He told me he’d been in the Army seven years. Said he’d made sergeant three or four times, been busted four or five times. Said he was drafted into the Army, pulled his hitch and got out. He said he lived in Kentucky. Rode the bus home, didn’t call, wanted to surprise his wife. He said he did. Surprised her alright. Caught her in bed with some guy. He said his first impulse was to kill both of them. Told them that. Said he busted the old boys nose with a chair leg, Got out his pocket knife, going to cut their throats, both of them. He decided against it, he said. He’d have to spend some time in the state prison, for it. What the hell, I walk out the door and never looked back. I bummed around for three months, then rejoined the Army. He said he didn’t just join, I married the Army, for better or worse. Jasper was a first class soldier. The most positive guy I knew. When the going got tough, Jasper was there to help. When any member of the squad was having a hard time, Jasper gave him a hand. He’d carry a man’s pack for him, his rifle, offer encouragement, and for those facing fear, he had little reassuring stories he’d tell. He specialized in laughter. He was energetic and encouraged others to be. Over the course of eight or nine months, I heard that, ‘Come a day, come a day, help me somebody’ a thousand times. That’s the way he got his resolve, the way he'd introduce himself, get next to you, the way he helped others. He helped me through a monsoon season and one of the very coldest winters I have ever experienced. By the time he rotated, I had gained a little clout, and recommended Jasper for sergeant. It was granted. I wished him luck. He said if I don’t see you again maybe I’ll catch you over in the Great Beyond. I waved him off, telling him, "Jasper, you'll do okay," and thinking, 'Come a day, come a day, quite a guy.'