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Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives - vol 1940 01 (Page 7)

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Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives - vol 1940 01
7
David McKelvy White - A Tribute
By MILTON WOLFF
This is going to be difficult. I can see
David, his face frozen in a frown, his
glasses gleaming and his dry, pedagogic
voice saying, "nuts." He will probably
never speak to me again.
Once before we were not on speaking
terms. It was sometime in spring the year
193?, in Spain. David was company clerk
of the machinegun company of the
Washington Battalion and I was a low
down gunner who wanted something,
cigarettes or shoes, that probably wasn't
coming to me. I went to David and very
belligerently made my request. lie wasn't
impressed ...he turned me down.
Whereupon I called him a goddamned
phony intellectual who would have done
better to remain at home. He remained
unimpressed.
It was July, it was hot and we were
lugging our machine guns over the dusty
roads of the Guadarramas into our first
action. Every time I turned to look back I
saw David struggling under a double load
of ammunition. His glasses were covered
with dust, his lips were a thin tight line and
he didn't so much as utter a grunt as he
staggered along. Bigger, stronger, more
talkative men passed out on that famous
three day trek. And all through the twenty-
one days of forced marches, thirst, hunger,
attacks and counterattacks that went to
male up Brunete, David was silent and
David stuck. Yeah, he was a great guy, this
Professor from Brooklyn College.
After Brunete David went home. I
thought maybe to write a book, to be a
hero and to return to his classrooms. I was
wrong. The war hadn't ended for David ...it
had just begun. He became the head of the
Friends of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade.
If he thought that Brunete was bad, it
became sissified compared to his Battle in
the Friends office.
DAVID McKELVY WHITE
For three long years David gave interviews
to parents and relations of missing and
dead men ...no easy task. Ever tactful,
patient, sympathetic and understanding, he
made things just a little easier for the
mothers and relatives of those of us who
died. Untiringly lie worked to send
shipment after shipment of comforts and
necessities to us in Spain. He, who disliked
speaking so much, made countless
speeches in our behalf and for Spain.
Perhaps I should not mention the number
of times lie tangled with the State
Department, getting them to do the things
they would have done very easily for
others but not for the boys who went to
Spain to fight for democracy. Jobs,
medical attention, financial assistance for
the Veterans occupied much of

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