John C Whitney

Portland, Oregon

February 6, 2013

Age Military Rank Unit/Location
70 USMC GySgt

 

 John served over 20 years in the marine Corps, including three tours in Vietnam, the last one so the younger guys wouldn't have to go. He became a Drill Instructor at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot and retired as a Gunnery Sergeant. After John's military service, he served 26 years with Oregon State Corrections and was a Sergeant. He was responsible for the Department of Corrections Honor Guard.

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February 22, 2013

Captain John C. Whitney

December 10, 1942 - February 6, 2013

SILVERTON - John Whitney, 70, passed away suddenly on February 6, 2013, in the comfort of his home at his desk and surrounded by the many awards and memorabilia of a life of service.

John was born in Portland, Oregon on December 10, 1942, to his parents - Richard and Irene. As a young child he grew up all over the state of Oregon. Most special to John were the formative years that he spent with his Grandma Geffe in the Portland area. John's early interest in law enforcement was mainly limited to avoidance. Discipline was in order and John was a willing pupil.

At the urging of his Dad Ray, John joined the United States Marine Corps in 1959. John's 20 plus year Marine Corps career included three tours in Vietnam - 1964-65, 1966-67, 1970-71. John chose to go on his last tour in Vietnam so that the young kids didn't have to go as he already knew what to expect. Later John became a Drill Instructor at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, and retired as a Gunnery Sgt. from '8th and I' in Washington, D.C. Everywhere John served recognition followed - one meritorious award after another in posts as far flung as Camp Pendleton and Okinawa.

Upon retiring from the Marine Corps, John moved home to Oregon with his young family. He began his Department of Corrections (DOC) career in November 1980 as a Correctional Officer at CDRC (now known as Santiam Correctional Institution). He transferred to the Oregon State Penitentiary a few years later and promoted up the ranks to Correctional Sergeant. John never avoided hard work and often volunteered for overtime assignment. Soon John became an expert on all Penitentiary operations and was placed in key positions to control entry and exit into the institution. Under John's leadership and stern instruction, getting in and getting out became noteworthy accomplishments. In fact, John's poker face caused so much pause in staff and visitors that John produced his famous 'smile on a stick' to hold in front of his face to show people when to relax.

Because of John's experience with one of the prestigious United States Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoons, he was asked in 1992 by then-Captain and now Deputy Director Mitch Morrow to organize and train a DOC Honor Guard that would give proper protocol and honor to the Department's employees and ceremonies. Initially the Honor Guard was a small team of Officers from the Penitentiary. Over the years and because of John's leadership the Honor Guard grew to include a West and East side team comprised of 25 members. John ran the Honor Guard with the skill, integrity, and discipline of a Marine. The Honor Guard was John's passion. He has attended every Police Memorial Service in the Pacific Northwest in recent memory. As a consultant on professional protocols and a representative for the Oregon Department of Corrections, he spent countless hours at other public safety ceremonies at both the state and national level. John was widely acclaimed as the best of the best in arranging and conducting ceremonies that let the dignity of the moment shine through and the sacrifice of the fallen be recognized. Once when asked why he was so dedicated and gave so much of himself he said, "I do it for the employees of the Department." He dedicated himself because that was who he was. He didn't need the recognition. Helping to bring respect to his fellow employees in their chosen profession was enough for him. 

John retired from the Department of Corrections after 26 years of service in 2006. He continued to work for the Department in a limited capacity as the Captain leading the DOC Honor Guard until his passing. John continued to serve in other areas, joining as a board member of the Oregon Fallen Badge Foundation just this past year.

John was a consummate correction's professional. It was the running joke that he missed the walls of the Penitentiary so much that he had to build a rock wall around his property so he wouldn't be home sick.

John's other loves in life included his family, hunting, and his yard. John is survived by the love of his life, Carol; his daughters, Michelle (Mike -deceased) and Brenda (Richard); his son, John (Julie); bonus children, Ed (Kathy) and Duane (Kathy), and all of their families including six grandchildren: Gavin, Evan (Lindsey), Ryan, Sammantha, Jarod, and Kyleigh. Also surviving John's death are John's step-father, Ray Fowler, his brother, Mitchell; his sisters, Bunny and Darlene and numerous extended family. Many of John's extended family preceded him in death including his parents and his brother, Russell.

Rest assured, the spirit of John Whitney is adjusting a tall chair in a shack somewhere near St. Peter's gate, polishing his shoes and belt, waiting for the next expectant applicant to seek entry. Boy, are they in for a surprise. Inside his new shack, John will wait patiently while flipping his Honor Guard coin. On one side are the words Honor, Integrity, and Respect and the statement "All Gave Some, Some Gave All." On the other side the words, Oregon Department of Corrections Honor Guard. Respect, Courage, Discipline, and Service, John Whitney was a Marine for all seasons. Semper Fi.

A memorial service will be held at the Salem Armory on Friday, February 22, 2013, at 1:30 p.m. Inurnment will be a private ceremony at Willamette National Cemetery. In lieu of flowers a donation may be made to Oregon Fallen Badge Foundation. Arrangements by Vigil T. Golden Funeral Services.

Published in StatesmanJournal on February 17, 2013

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