By Anthony Cave, News21
Navy veteran Ron White can remember 7,000 consecutive words. But he still forgets everyday items, like the blender to make his morning protein shake.
“I have a very average memory, but when I use this system, it’s extraordinary,” he said.
White, a memory expert, took a seminar when he was 18 years old. For more than 22 years, he has used the loci technique, which associates names with everyday objects and locations — his stove or the inside of a bookstore — to remember large quantities of information. White teaches a memory class and even has a set of instructional CDs.
Beyond using it on school exams or to win memory competitions, he took on a far greater challenge in May 2012.
White, who served in Afghanistan in 2007, started memorizing every fallen soldier from the Afghanistan war, more than 2,200 names.
White traveled across the globe, from Africa to Boston, with a black folder that contained pages of the fallen soldiers to memorize.
“I kind of feel like I’m taking these guys with me,” he said.
At Chase Field in Phoenix on Memorial Day, White wrote the names, one-by-one, on a blank, 50-foot memorial wall. It took him 10 hours. White’s purpose is for people to remember the soldiers. His efforts help raise funds for the Wounded Warrior Project.
Still, emotions run high when writing the names. Sometimes, family members stand and watch him.
“When you’re getting ready to write their name and they’ve waited an hour to see you write their son or daughter’s name, the emotions well up,” White said. “I just got to remind myself ‘stay focused on this moment.’”