Polk veteran, four veteran supporters to be honored at N.C. Veterans Park

Published 12:56 am Friday, December 3, 2010

Howard Greene has been selected to represent Polk County on a wall honoring N.C. veterans that will be part of the North Carolina Veterans Park scheduled to open in Fayetteville, NC, on July 4, 2011.
Also honored in the park will be four active supporters of veterans in Polk County: Tom De Vries, Rose “Jackie” Johnson, Gerry Taylor and Lisa Krolak.
The Arts Council of the City of Fayetteville and Cumberland County, NC, is sponsoring the North Carolina Veterans Park as a tribute to all of North Carolina’s veterans. Fayetteville is the home of Ft. Bragg and Pope AFB.
The park is adjacent to the Airborne & Special Operations Museum and borders historic downtown Fayetteville. It will include a visitor’s center, community lawn and plaza, reflective garden, and amphitheater. The park will serve not only as a reflective and contemplative space but also as a gathering place to welcome and honor veterans.
Designers say the park will be contemporary, unique and bold – absent of specific recognition to individuals, places, or battlegrounds. The primary park theme is a veteran’s journey: life before, during, and after service.
One facet of this tribute to the state’s veterans will consist of a wall bearing the bronze-cast right hand of a veteran from each of North Carolina’s 100 counties who had exemplary military service and who, following discharge, contributed substantially to their community and veterans welfare. The veteran’s hand will represent all veterans from each county, past and present, women and men, living and deceased, from every branch of service.
Howard Belton Greene was selected by the county veterans service officer to represent all veterans of Polk County.
Greene is a native son of Polk County whose military record, community involvement and contribution to veterans of Polk County is well-recognized. Greene is a WWII and Korea War veteran, serving on active duty from October 1941 to October 1945, and again from February 1951 to August 1951 in the U.S. Army.
Greene received many medals and honors for his military service. Some of these honors are:
• A Purple Heart for wounds received in action on April 4, 1945
• An EAME Service Medal with two Bronze Stars
• American Defense Service Medal
• American Theatre Ribbon
• Presidential Unit Citation
• European, African, Middle Eastern Ribbon with three battle stars
• Victory Medal with one star.
Greene retired from the U.S. Army Reserves in February 1979, having achieved the rank of chief warrant officer, W3. He is a member and past commander of American Legion Post #250 and VFW Post #10349; and has been active in these organizations for more than 60 years.
Greene personally drove veterans more than 100 miles round trip weekly to the VA hospital in Asheville at his own expense, wearing out three cars in the process.
Greene was a small business owner in the community for many years. He is active in community service, having served on the boards of many non-profit organizations.
Another facet of the NC Veterans Park tribute is a separate hand casting of four citizens from each county, veterans and non-veterans, who have contributed support above and beyond for the veterans of their county. These castings will be displayed on columns of support indicating their outstanding support for veterans of their county and all veterans.
For Polk County, the county’s veterans service officer selected Tom De Vries, Rose “Jackie” Johnson, Gerry Taylor and Lisa Krolak for this honor.
De Vries is a wounded 100-disabled Vietnam veteran of the U.S. Army. Tom has dedicated many years of his life actively involved in the American Legion and VFW. He was also a veterans service officer with the American Legion for several years assisting many veterans with their claims. He is an active member of both American Legion Post #250 in Tryon and the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post # 10349 in Mill Spring.
Johnson is a U.S. Army Vietnam veteran with six years of active duty service. She works for the Polk County DSS as a supervisory social worker in child protection, where she assists families who are experiencing problems, including families of veterans.
She was also the Polk County Veterans Service Officer for several years, assisting many veterans and their families with claims. She is a member of American Legion Post #250 in Tryon.
Taylor is the wife of a disabled U.S. Army Vietnam veteran who has dedicated her adult life to helping veterans. She is an active volunteer at the Asheville VAMC, driving that distance every week just to assist their voluntary service in helping hospitalized veterans. She has done so for more than five years, and has more than 2,000 hours of voluntary service.
She served on the VA Voluntary Service Advisory Board at the VA Medical Center in Asheville for two years. Taylor is actively involved with the Ladies Auxiliary of VFW Post #10349 with their fundraising in support of veterans families, educating school children about the American flag, etc., as well as having served as an auxiliary past president of that organization. She has spent countless hours supporting veterans and their families.
Lisa Krolak is the daughter of a U.S. Marine Corps major who has worked tirelessly, at her own expense, logging many hours for the past two years promoting and fundraising for the expansion of the Veterans Park in Columbus. Krolak is an active member of the ladies auxiliary of VFW Post #10349 and continues to be a huge supporter of veterans in Polk County, actively interacting with the American Legion and VFW. She was recently honored for this role by both organizations at the November 2010 county commissioners meeting. Krolak also serves on the Unified Development Ordinance committee.
The county veterans service officer for each county was also asked to provide a sample of soil from their county. The soil will be incorporated into the building of the columns at the park, and a sprinkling of it will also be used in the casting of the veteran’s hand.
The names of the individuals selected will not be incorporated on the wall or columns, because they represent all veterans and supporters. However, their names will be archived in the visitor’s center of the park.
Park supporters say, “We have all heard the words of politicians about sacrifice, dedication, honor, and service to the county. The individuals above, and others in the county, live it as a daily part of their lives.
– submitted by Darrel Moore, Polk County Veterans Service Officer

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