Retired Maj. Gen. Jerry White, a key figure in building the National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center, said Friday his mission is accomplished and he’ll retire at the end of December.
“It’s just one of the toughest things I have ever had to do,” said White, who retired as commander of Fort Benning. “I have been thinking about it for six months.”
White helped raised more than $100 million for the museum, which opened June 19, 2009. Since 1998, he has served as the National Infantry Foundation’s president and chairman, the nonprofit organization that runs the museum.
White said the museum is the finest in the United States, with about 500,000 visitors last year. It attracted more visitors than 61 other museums combined.
“We are growing every day,” he said. “This is the Smithsonian of the Army right here. I have to feel good about what I have helped to do. I feel honored I was able to help the soldiers I love.”
Although White will continue to be connected to other organizations to help soldiers and south Columbus, he said the museum will still operate on an interim basis under Executive Director Ben Williams and Executive Vice President Greg Camp.
White said a committee is looking into the overall operations for the best direction in the future. The best candidate may be a retired person or it may be someone from the business community. There could be a president and chairman of the foundation and a president of the solider center.
“Maybe we’ll have a chairman who is a volunteer, then hire someone to be the president,” he said. “We’ve got some options. We are like any business. We have to make money.”
The retired Army general said his goal was accomplished last week when a family visited the museum.
“Fifteen years ago I said when I heard a soldier tell his mom and dad they built this museum for me, I will consider my mission accomplished,” White said. “I heard that last week.”