By Sade' Wilson, USACC PAO InternJune 16, 2017
A Veteran of three wars received a warm welcome as he was provided a privately guided tour of Fort Knox's General George Patton Museum of Leadership, June 9.
Ninety seven year-old Veteran Vernon Greene served as a member of the 100th Troop Carrier Squadron, 441st Group, 52nd Wing, 9th Air Force when he was tasked with delivering fuel to Gen. George S. Patton's army during World War II.
"(Fuel) would be loaded and then we would taxi to the end of the runway and they would tell us, 'Stop! He's moved!' So, we might have to wait another day till they could find another grass strip for us to land on, then we could deliver the fuel to him. That happened more than once," Greene recalled.
Although delivering fuel was Greene's only tie to the famous General, he says it was an incredible privilege.
"It was always an honor, I think, when we were called on to
deliver fuel to him, and that's basically what we did. We read Stars and Stripes, and that always kept us up-to-date on all his movements as he raced across the continent," he said.
In March of 1944, Greene arrived to the United Kingdom to support the Allied Forces. Greene wouldn't return home to his wife and two children until August 1945.
Greene described his return to America, "When we sailed past the Statue of Liberty, looked over and saw the Empire State Building, we saw a black splotch on it and I guess a B-25 had flown into it a few months earlier. Then we docked, got off and went to Camp Kilmer, New Jersey. First time we'd had fresh milk and eggs, we really pigged out."
This wouldn't be the only homecoming Greene would participate in. He would deploy again to Tachikawa, Japan in support of the Korean War as a crew chief of a C-47 Skytrain. Due to a shortage of maintenance officers, Greene and seven others received direct commission appointments by Gen. Douglas MacArthur.
Shortly after returning from Japan, Greene would deploy once more to Vietnam where he worked and lived on a Vietnamese Air Force compound. Greene spoke softly and reverently as he recounted how the realities of war struck him harder than ever before during his stay in Vietnam.
"When we went to work for the day, we had to drive by the mortuary and we saw shipping cases stacked up to the ceiling when we came to work every day," said Greene.
"We became friends with some of the morticians that worked there and they told us some sad, sad stories. We noticed that they were very nervous people, and doing what they were doing and how they had to do it and some of the remains they had to work with - it would make anybody nervous."
Despite the challenges Greene faced during his military career spanning more than two decades, he claims his experiences were truly rewarding.
Greene said he always made a point of learning the leadership styles of those he served under, to include Gen. Patton, and would adopt them into his own leadership style.
"I don't think I would like to go back 70 or 80 years and compete with some of the young people I've seen here today. I believe our country's in good hands when we've got people like I've seen today," he said.
"I count it as a distinct honor and privilege to be here today."