IN HONOR OF ALFRED PRESTON ``WHITEY'' BIRDWELL'S 101ST BIRTHDAY; Congressional Record Vol. 165, No. 200
(Extensions of Remarks - December 13, 2019)

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[Extensions of Remarks]
[Page E1588]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []



                            HON. KEVIN BRADY

                                of texas

                    in the house of representatives

                       Friday, December 13, 2019

  Mr. BRADY. Madam Speaker, today I rise to recognize and celebrate the 
101st birthday of a remarkable Purple Heart recipient and outstanding 
member of the Eighth Congressional District of Texas, Mr. Alfred 
Birdwell, or ``Whitey.''
  Born on November 18, 1918, Whitey was the second of six boys in his 
family and grew up on a farm in Minden, Texas. He had a traditional 
East Texas upbringing, from growing crops and raising animals to 
hunting with his family. Though he traveled the world while training 
for and serving in World War II, Whitey has remained a lifelong Texan.
  In 1940, Whitey married his first wife, Edith Husband. Together, they 
had two children before basic training. While at training in 1945, he 
received a letter that their infant child, Jimmy, was sick and passed 
away. He went home to help his family through the tragic loss and 
returned to training more motivated than ever to serve his country. 
Edith and Whitey would end up having seven beautiful children together 
before Edith's passing on August 8, 1960.
  Whitey began his service in the Army on May 26, 1944. He served as a 
Medium Tank Crewman to the 3rd Armored Division, 3rd Regiment and drove 
the lead tank. Whitey quickly became known for his quick wit and expert 
rifle skills, and soon became friends with his commanding officer, 
Colonel Lovelady, who he was charged with protecting during battle. The 
two bonded over morning coffee and would often joke, ``Do you think 
this cup will carry us to Berlin?''
  Whitey earned the nickname ``Crazy Texan'' for his actions under fire 
throughout his service. During a mortar barrage, his assistant tank 
driver sat up out of the tank to try to get a better vantage point but 
was instead hit by the incoming fire. Whitey grabbed him and ducked 
into a foxhole, getting hit by the mortar barrage himself. Stubborn and 
hard-headed as ever, he insisted on fighting although he was wounded. 
Whitey was sent to the hospital after the battle, and was later awarded 
a Purple Heart for the incident.
  In the 1960s, Whitey worked in Texas City. While dining at a local 
restaurant, he met Patsy Grimes. The two married later that year and 
blended their families, raising their 11 children in one household. 
Although the family was large and the house was always hectic, life as 
a Birdwell was full of love and laughter. Shortly after celebrating 
their 50th wedding anniversary in 2015, Patsy fell ill and passed away.
  Anyone that knows Whitey can testify that he's never lost his 
energetic spirit. Last year, he decided to celebrate his 100th birthday 
walking a mile. The event garnered so much attention that he decided to 
turn his birthday celebration into a charity event, and successfully 
raised hundreds of dollars for the Blinded Veterans Association and the 
Brazos Valley Veterans Memorial, two causes close to his heart.
  His service to our country, compassion for others and joy for life 
serves as true example for us all. I am proud to join his 18 
grandchildren, 46 great grandchildren, 9 great great grandchildren, and 
the entire Eighth Congressional District of Texas in wishing Whitey a 
happy 101st birthday.