Friends, family and former colleagues gathered to honor the memory of Cmdr. Michael “Mort” White, July 11, by dedicating the conference room of Carrier Strike Group 4 (CSG-4) in his honor.
White, who served the nation for three decades in the Navy and as a civilian, passed away in March after a valiant battle with cancer.
“He needed something more than a plaque, more than a golf tournament,” said Michael “Odie” Ogden, CSG-4 Maritime Headquarters Executive Director and White’s colleague at CSG-4 for more than a decade. The conference room, now rechristened “The MORT,” is the kind of enduring memorial White deserves, Ogden said.
White’s widow, Nancy, agreed. “He made a mark,” she said. “He made a very strong impression on a lot of people. That’s what his goal was – to leave his mark.”
Dozens crowded the conference room in historic building N-23 on Naval Station Norfolk for a brief but heartfelt dedication ceremony, followed by drinks and snacks. The conference room’s walls were adorned with framed pictures and plaques from White’s home. Together, they summarized his 22-year career as a Naval Flight Officer. In one painting, an A-6 Intruder dives earthward with a full payload; in another, an F-14 Tomcat streaks over the desert.
After transitioning from active duty, White joined CSG-4 as Assistant Chief of Staff for Training, Plans and Policy (N5). CSG-4 Commander, Rear Adm. Richard Butler, said White set the standard for the strike group’s staff.
“They’re incredibly dedicated and capable, and Mort epitomized that,” he said. “Having this room in his memory just reinforces that dedication to excellence.”
White’s mother, Julie White, said the conference room captured his spirit. “He would have loved it,” she said of the Minneapolis native who grew up fascinated with flying, thanks mostly to his father, a fighter pilot with the U.S. Air Force.
Julie White thought “The MORT” was a perfect way to remember her son. “He did have a salty sense of humor,” she said with a grin.
Admirals will come and go, Ogden said, but every time they enter the conference room, White’s memory will greet them at the door, carrying his legacy beyond the careers and lives he impacted.
By Ensigns Rob Kunzig and Mike Dunlap, Navy Public Affairs Support Element -East
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