Polk County’s Mr. American Legion Howard GreenePublished 7:31pm Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Howard Greene signed as a “charter” member of Polk county’s Post 250 of the American Legion, an event that took place in June, 1945.
Today, Wednesday, March 12, Greene celebrates his 95th birthday and has been a member for some 69 years.
He is one of the county’s oldest veterans. Military assignments carried him throughout Europe during World War II. He joined the Army shortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, starting out as a foot soldier but ended up fighting with the elite Army Ranger special Unit.
Howard faced combat almost from the first day he landed in Europe. He is in demand as a public speaker on the subject of his military service during the war years of 1941 – 1945.
His age does not slow him down as he is active in several local civic organizations, including the American Legion, where he says he is blessed to have almost perfect attendance at the Post 250 monthly meetings.
Howard is presently a member of the Post’s prestigious Honor Guard, traveling within the county to veteran’s graveside ceremonies.
Talking with Greene is like being with Anna Conner, President of the Polk County Historical Association, as both are walking encyclopedias for our county’s history.
He has fond memories associated with the sights and sounds of our small county, especially the old Oak Hail Hotel, where he enjoyed great meals in the company of friends.
Like many “old timers,” he misses the great train whistles that in the past echoed in and out of our valleys. Both are now gone supposedly by way of progress.
Howard’s memory of his service to our country remains exceptionally clear as he relates to an audience that sits in silence as he speaks of his hand-to-hand combat with enemy soldiers.
Our local museum displays a German helmet he donated along with the story of wearing it at times while “scouting” the enemy… thinking they would probably not shoot a camouflaged soldier wearing one of their own helmets.
His toughest military assignments found him climbing the sheer cliffs of Omaha Beach on the day of the Normandy Invasion. He recalls the air around him was filled with German bullets “kicking” up so much dirt that he often had to pause to clear his eyes. Omaha Beach was the scene of the greatest loss of life for allied troops on that day in June 1945.
Soon Greene and his wife, Mary will celebrate 70 years of marriage with almost all those years as residents of Tryon.
Polk County is proud to be the home of such an outstanding citizen and Post 250 is honored to bestow the title of Mister American Legion on such a patriotic member.
– article submitted
by John L Johnson