Stanley Whitey von Nieda

Stanley Whitey von Nieda

Man in uniform

At right, with his wife, Arlene, in 2019, is Penn State class of 1947 alumnus Stanley "Whitey" von Nieda, 97, paratrooper in the 17th Airborne Division, with combat duty in France, Belgium and Germany during World War II; and staff sergeant, U.S. Army. The couple currently reside in a retirement village in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania. The left photo shows von Nieda in 1943, as a U.S. Army private following basic training. He initially enrolled at Penn State in fall 1940. A standout forward on the freshman basketball team, he was varsity starter his junior year, after which he was called to active duty. At the encouragement of the Penn State basketball coach, he signed up for the Enlisted Reserve Corps with the expectation that he would be allowed to complete his college degree before being called up. In April 1943 he was mobilized, and after basic training volunteered for the parachute troops. Subsequent combat action included the Battle of the Bulge, in which the 17th Airborne Division fought its way into Bastogne to relieve the encircled 101st Airborne Division, and Operation Varsity, the airborne drop across the Rhine into Germany in March 1945, World War II's last major airborne operation. Reassigned to the 82nd Airborne Division, he performed occupation duty in post-war Berlin. Upon returning to the University in 1946, he began playing professional basketball, and became Penn State's first player to be a member of the NBA, playing for the Baltimore Bullets in 1949, the league's inaugural year. He is currently the oldest living alumnus of the NBA.

IMAGE: Provided