HARLINGEN — With scissors, glue and a few red and pink pages, personal Valentine’s Day cards were being prepared for a special collector.
Cadets at Marine Military Academy in Harlingen made scrapbook pages inside the Peacher Cadet Activities Center for a 104-year-old World War II U.S. Marine Corps veteran on Wednesday morning.
Retired Major Bill White, a resident at an assisted living center in Stockton, California, has launched “Operation Valentine,” asking to receive Valentine’s Day cards from strangers around the world.
Jessica Doan, English teacher for eighth and ninth graders, said the academy learned about White from a parent who sent her the information on Facebook.
Doan said she spoke with a students’ sponsor and decided to create a scrapbooking project through the English department.
That is the only department that sees every single student throughout the day, which was helpful to create as many cards as possible.
Levi Swindells, 15, had never done scrapbook pages before but he said he was very honored to do so.
White spent 30 years of active duty in the U.S. Marine Corps. He received a Purple Heart after being wounded in the Battle of Iwo Jima in 1945
Coincidentally, the monument outside the academy pays homage to the Iwo Jima battle.
“This man is, for lack of a better term, a war hero. He was in Iwo Jima, one of the most famous battles in the Marine Corps,” Swindells said.
“It has the famous flag raising on Mount Suribachi. It is an icon of the nation, it’s just honoring you know,” he said.
Swindells had never scrapbooked before but he wrote a poem for White in his Valentine’s Day card.
“I thought he would enjoy it,” he said.
The poem reads, “One day time will forget the battle, maybe even the battlefield, but time will never forget your sacrifice.”
Cadet Sgt. Aidan Kenney, 16, agreed with Swindells in honoring White.
“I am really happy. He is the oldest living Marine at 104 years old. That is just crazy. He has been through so much and seen so much, just so that we can have everything we enjoy today,” Kenney said.