Boots on the Ground
By Chaplain Thomas Corder
A few weeks ago, Post 5127 bade farewell to a beloved comrade in arms, Jimmie W. Greene. At our meeting on March 9, we observed a moment of silence in memory of him. Then, in a solemn ceremony, we draped our Charter in black. It will remain draped for a month in honor of Comrade Greene.
Although he was not active in the early days of the post, being occupied with the office of Judge/Executive at the time, it was he who enabled the rest of us to find a home in the Old Joe Jackson building on Main Street, Whitley City, where we presently meet. His charitable contributions of time and resources made it possible for Post 5127 to finally settle down in a permanent home after many years of fruitless wandering from place to place.
It can be said, without fear of exaggeration, that most people in McCreary County knew Jimmie W. Greene. After all, he was the longest serving Judge/Executive in Kentucky history. As Judge/Executive, he did not live in a world of strangers and, although controversial at times, he was truly a man of the people and a figure larger than life. His ever-present smile and cheerful demeanor had a magical effect upon those who met with him whether in his office or on the street.
Jimmie loved his family, he loved McCreary County, he loved the veteran community and he loved the U.S. Air Force. He was especially proud of having risen to the rank of Master Sergeant and having served as First Sergeant, a title bestowed upon very few soldiers and only to those who have exhibited exceptional leadership ability. On special occasions like Memorial Day and Veterans Day, he enjoyed putting on his old uniform, its sleeves covered with stripes and its breast heavy with earned medals, testaments to his meritorious service. Even as he advanced in age, he always looked sharp and served as an inspiration to all who saw him, especially the young. However, that was the public Jimmie Greene, the patriotic war hero who spoke to the highest ideals of the American people; there was, in actuality, another Jimmie Greene, a Jimmie Greene that only a few were privileged to know.
As members of his VFW family, we got to know Comrade Greene in ways other people may not have had the opportunity, for he was quite willing to share with us his experiences, both good and bad, while serving in the Air Force. We knew about his having come under enemy fire while working at a remote direction finding station in Korea, and about his escorting the bodies of soldiers killed in Vietnam back to Clark Air Base in the Philippines. This was an especially unpleasant duty, but one to which he was assigned, and one that he carried out faithfully. It was also one that left memories that haunted him for the rest of his days. Hopefully, his comrades in Post 5127 were able to be of as much comfort to him as he was to us.
Many veterans, especially those who have known the horrors of combat, have memories of things they would prefer to forget, but which will not go away. They live with them, day in and day out. Sometimes, if not addressed, they lead to broken marriages, alienation from society, alcoholism, drug abuse and other forms of destructive behavior. The Veterans of Foreign Wars was organized to provide a place where those bad memories can be aired in a non-judgmental setting and where help can be obtained, if needed. Comrade Greene understood that, probably better than anyone else, and loved his fellow veterans enough to ensure that they would always be together as a family united by a common struggle and a common goal. Godspeed, Comrade Green. Mission accomplished.