Veteran puts prize-winning memory to work in unique tribute to fallen soldiers

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey
By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey
By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey
By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey
By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

PHOENIX -- On a day when Arizonans and the rest of the nation paused to honor our fallen service members, one man is paying tribute to every soldier who died in Afghanistan.

Ron White is not only a veteran. He's also a memory champ who's putting his talents to good use.

White, a two-time winner of the U.S. Memory Championship, and a member of United States Navy, is honoring fallen soldiers in Afghanistan by memorizing their 2,200 names (rank, first name and last name) then writing them out on a large memorial wall.

The project kicked off Feb. 28 in Fort Worth, Texas, and Ron is now taking the wall all across the country.

Monday, White brought the memory board to Chase Field in Phoenix, reminding folks what Memorial Day is all about.

"Today is not national barbecue day," White says. "It's the day we honor men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice."

The Texas man has memorized the names of more than 2,200 American service members killed in Afghanistan since the conflict began more than 11 years ago.

And to pay homage to them, he's touring the country, writing their names on a 50-foot-long dry-erase board during each stop. He calls the project Operation Enduring Memory.

It took him ten months to memorize all the names. "What's tough is the spelling," he says.

And while White doesn't personally know anyone whose name is on the list, he has gotten to know many of their families.

"I've had moms and dads stand behind me, a grandmother, waiting for three hours for me to write their names," he says.

White's project had an impact on many who watched him at work at Chase Field. "They're never forgotten," says Airman Rusty Collins. "Someone out there is doing something to remember those people."

It takes White more than eight hours to write all the names. Still, he doesn't mind. "There's nothing impressive about what I've done with this wall," he says. "Not compared to the sacrifices of the men and women on this wall."

He's using the memorial to raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project.

White, a former Navy intelligence specialist who toured Afghanistan in 2007, has made a name for himself as a so-called brain athlete and memory champion. He's appeared on national TV and holds seminars on memory building.