104-year-old veteran has received over 300,000 Valentine's Day cards

Maj. Bill White has received 300,000 cards from strangers around the world.

February 14, 2020, 4:50 PM

A 104-year-old retired WWII U.S. Marine Corps veteran who put out a call asking to receive Valentine's Day cards never expected such an overwhelming global response.

Maj. Bill White, a resident at an assisted living facility in Stockton, California, has received over 300,000 cards and gifts from all over the world.

"The gifts include handmade quilts, blankets, artwork, cups, mugs, military memorabilia, challenge coins, hats, T-shirts, candy, scrapbook items, custom-made walker with military colors," Diane Wright, executive director of The Oaks at Inglewood where White resides, told ABC News. "The list goes on and on. And mail is still coming."

PHOTO: Major Bill White reads through Valentine's Day cards with his great granddaughters Abigail Sawyer, nine-years-old, and Nicole Sawyer, seven-years-old, at an assisted living facility in Stockton, Calif., Jan. 31, 2020.
Major Bill White reads through Valentine's Day cards with his great granddaughters Abigail Sawyer, nine-years-old, and Nicole Sawyer, seven-years-old, at an assisted living facility in Stockton, Calif., Jan. 31, 2020.
Kate Munsch/Reuters
At the outset, the goal was a modest 100 cards-about one for every one of White's birthdays-but the response has outstripped all expectations."It's just too fantastic," said White, Jan. 31, 2020.
At the outset, the goal was a modest 100 cards - about one for every one of White's birthdays - but the response has outstripped all expectations. "It's just too fantastic," said White, surrounded by waist-high stacks of postal boxes filled with cards, Jan. 31, 2020.
Kate Munsch/Reuters

In January, White launched "Operation Valentine" asking to receive Valentine's Day cards from strangers around the world.

White said he hopes to save all the cards he receives so they can be a part of his history.

White spent 30 years of active duty in the U.S. Marine Corps. He received a Purple Heart on Mar. 3, 1946, for surviving the Battle of Iwo Jima in 1945 when he was stationed in Japan.

After returning to the U.S. and starting a family, White worked as a police officer. Throughout his entire life, one of his favorite hobbies has been scrapbooking. Every year, White organized his memories and milestones into binders.

"This started way back," White said. "My mother, parents taught me to conserve and observe memories as much as possible."

Enter the Valentine's Day cards to add his 2020 scrapbook.

Wright said that they never thought White's call out for cards was "going to go viral."

One card reads, "Dear Major Bill White ... Thank you for your service to our country we are proud of your accomplishments and love of country. You are amazing and an inspiration to our Marine who is currently serving."

PHOTO: White displays Valentine's Day gifts in his home at the assisted living center in Stockton, Calif., Jan. 31, 2020. For those sending Valentines, White represents something bigger than himself.
White displays Valentine's Day gifts in his home at the assisted living center in Stockton, Calif., Jan. 31, 2020. For those sending Valentines, White represents something bigger than himself. Many of them have conveyed a deep appreciation not only to him for his service, but to all veterans who died too soon to hear their gratitude.
Kate Munsch/Reuters
PHOTO: Nicole Sawyer, 7-year-old great granddaughter of Major Bill White, reads Valentine's Day cards sent to White in Stockton, Calif., Jan. 31, 2020.
Nicole Sawyer, 7-year-old great granddaughter of Major Bill White, reads Valentine's Day cards sent to White in Stockton, Calif., Jan. 31, 2020.
Kate Munsch/Reuters
PHOTO: Thousands of Valentine's Day cards hang in the community dining room, Jan. 31, 2020, at White's assisted living facility.
Thousands of Valentine's Day cards hang in the community dining room, Jan. 31, 2020, at White's assisted living facility. "It's something I've never heard of or seen," said the World War II Marine veteran, who was injured in the battle for Iwo Jima. "All of a sudden here, like a ton of bricks. I'm sort of speechless."
Kate Munsch/Reuters

Besides scrapbooking, White enjoys walking around the community, and playing bingo and cards to keep busy, Wright said. He still wears his Marine uniform that he has had for about 66 years, and he's often visited at the facility by friends from the Marines.

White might be retired, but said he will always be a tough Marine: "They could call me back if they needed me for something."

PHOTO:The cards and notes to "Major Bill," a retired major who lives in an assisted living facility in Stockton, Calif., began pouring in after the launch of a social media campaign called called "Operation Valentine."
The cards and notes to "Major Bill," a retired major who lives in an assisted living facility in Stockton, Calif., began pouring in after the launch of a social media campaign called "Operation Valentine," asking friends and strangers alike to send greetings to honor White. Some of them now hang in the community dining room, Jan. 31, 2020.
Kate Munsch/Reuters
PHOTO: This 104-year-old veteran is receiving Valentine's Day cards from all over the country
Maj. Bill White, a resident at an assisted living facility in Stockton, California, has received over 2,000 Valentine's Day cards for "Operation Valentine" from strangers around the world.
Courtesy The Oaks at Inglewood Assisted Living

If you are looking to add to "Operation Valentine" and be a part of White’s history, you can mail valentines to:

Operation Valentine

ATTN: Hold for Maj. Bill White, USMC (Ret.)

The Oaks at Inglewood

6725 Inglewood Ave.

Stockton, CA 95207

Editor's Note: This story was originally posted on January 24, 2020.

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