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Whitten was born in Newton, Massachusetts. After high school he went to Amherst College. In college he was in the glee club. The last performance his club did before he graduated was for the Amherst Alumni Association after which Whitten and his friends took their dates into New York City. When they walked past a recruiting station, the boys' dates bet them that they wouldn't go in and enlist.In 1940, everyone on the East Coast knew that war was coming. The people could see it by all of the work available at defense plants working to provide Lend Lease materials to Britain and France.Whitten and his 3 friends enlisted. 2 of his friends volunteered for the Army Air Corps, 1 went into the Navy, and Whitten volunteered for the Marine Corps.20 days after Whitten got out of college he got a notice to report to the Marine Corps. He reported to the Navy Yard in Boston where he stayed for a couple of months.Whitten had done some flying in college and had soloed. He had always wanted to fly.Whitten was sent to Squantum [Annotator's Note: Naval Air Station Squantum in Quincy, MA] but couldn't get into flight training because he was only a PFC and he had to be a sergeant to get into flight training. He was put on active reserve until a spot opened up for him.While waiting for a spot to open at flight school he went to work at a bank as a bill collector.The first collection Whitten went on was for a young man who had bought a guitar but hadn't made a payment yet. They talked for a while and Whitten got the man to pay his bill.Whitten was making good money, about 45 or 50 dollars a month. He also had a car that the bank gave him. He only had to pay about 240 dollars which was the balance owed on the car.Whitten would work during the week and drive down to Squantum on the weekends. One weekend he was told to go to Pensacola on Monday. He packed his bags and drove down to Pensacola.
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