By John Harlow/USAG Natick Public AffairsOctober 4, 2017
In the lobby of the headquarters building of the Natick Soldier Systems Center, there is now a plaque honoring the life of one of its former senior commanders, Maj. Gen. Harold J. Greene.
Greene was killed while serving as the deputy commanding general of the Combined Security Transition Command -- Afghanistan on Aug. 5, 2014, at a training facility in the Afghan capital of Kabul.
"I cannot think of people or a place he loved more," Dr. Susan Myers, Greene's widow, said. "We were grateful for all who were able to share this special event."
Greene served as the NSSC senior commander from 2009 to 2011 and lived the values of "People First, Mission Always." Not just during his time at NSSC, but throughout his more than three decades in uniform serving our nation.
Jennifer Potts, deputy product director, Scout/Attack, Non-Standard Rotary Wing Aircraft Project Office, PEO Aviation, was one of the Department of the Army civilians mentored by the late general.
"The first time I sat down across the table from him, he commented he generally mentored Army officers, but because I asked, he was willing to share his time and insight with me," said Potts. "He had no obligation to share his time, wisdom, experience or thought, yet he did."
Her husband, the current NSSC senior commander, Brig. Gen. Anthony Potts, was also mentored by Greene.
"I remember the first time the 'Boss' (Maj. Gen. Greene) called us into his office," Potts said. "I really thought I was in trouble. I did something that upset Jen, and she ratted me out."
Potts shared some of the leadership philosophies that he learned from Greene.
"Lead by example -- the people you lead are looking to you as an example of what right looks like," Potts said. "Be humble -- you are part of a team. You may outrank everyone in your formation, but be open to the guidance you receive from your subordinates. I would add to that, when you have it all figured out, it's time to retire. Don't hesitate to make decisions -- this doesn't mean make rash decisions. Get as much information as you can and make the best decision you can so you don't paralyze your organization through indecision. Be a team player and a team builder -- your team is part of a bigger team. You need to find out how to fit into the big picture while building strength in the team you are leading. Take your work seriously, but don't take yourself too seriously -- this describes General Greene.
"General Greene took the mission to protect all service members serving in harm's way personally. He challenged all of our research laboratories to do everything they can to give every Soldier, Sailor, Airman and Marine the best chance to come home to their parents, husbands, wives and children. He was also the guy who ran the installation Jingle Bell Run dressed as Santa Claus and the guy who sat in the dunk tank for an hour and talked smack, then matched every donation to benefit our Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers (BOSS) program. General Greene was serious about his duties as a Soldier, and he did it with a smile on his face."
General Potts was joined by members of Greene's family as they unveiled the plaque that reads:
May this plaque serve as a tangible reminder of the countless intangible ways Major General Harry Greene touched all who knew him. He was one; but we whom he touched are many.
With his kind words, genuine care, firm guiding hand, clear wisdom, infectious good cheer and relentless call to duty, Major General Harry Greene lives on in our hearts -- Soldiers, civilians and friends, whether close to home or far away.
We take what we learned from him and pass it on. We remember him. We honor him. And we miss him dearly.
Capt. Matthew Greene spoke on behalf of the family after the plaque was unveiled.
"Dad always lived by and exemplified the cliché phrase 'Mission First, People Always,'" said Greene. "He expected it of himself, all of those around him and his family. I think he said it wrong without realizing it. He conveniently forgot the perfectionist attitude he hid underneath it all. The correct translation is 'Mission First, People Always, Sacrifice Never'."
The captain spoke of something he had in common with almost everyone who came in contact with Greene.
"Who in this group wasn't greeted first thing in the morning with … 'What have you done for your country today?' I think it was always the first thing I heard from him when I spoke to him, even as a kid, let alone as an officer, cadet or Soldier," said Greene. "Usually, the response was, 'Dad, it's 6:30 in the morning, and other than PT, what do you expect from me?'"
He shared his father's thoughts about the Natick workforce.
"Dad was, and we are, extremely proud to even know every, single one of you and consider you all our family," said Greene. "The importance of the work that is done here is beyond description. In the turbulence of war, there is no room for halfway or close enough. Ballistic plates can't fail, ruck sacks can't fall apart and MREs can't go bad. This value of consummate professionalism is something we strive to instill in every Soldier and is obviously apparent in everything done, tested and evaluated here.
"As evidence of that, let me tell a quick story. The date was April 23, 2013, in Tagab, Afghanistan, and 2nd Lieutenant Jeff Meek and his company came under fire from what was suspected to be two military-age males. As they began to return fire, Jeff's head snaps back, throwing him from his cover and giving him a massive concussion. A 7.62mm round slammed into his Army Combat Helmet almost square. Jeff was transported to Bagram, where he spent the next six days in the traumatic brain injury clinic. Jeff received a Purple Heart instead of his parents receiving a folded flag because of the 'Sacrifice Never' attitude. Maj. Jeremy Haynes, Maj. Gen. Ben Bathurst and 28 others from that fateful day we lost Dad are alive today because of the work that gets done here."
"Dad was a special person and he charges us to do our best every single day and I would expect that would continue as it always has here at Natick," Greene said. "Mission First, People Always, Sacrifice Never."