A Note from Charlie
In the spring of 2000 my son Clark, or (Clarke as he prefers), took a philosophical turn and started asking some email questions about my life and particularly about my military service. I started to answer somewhat routinely but as he pursued the subject I began to enjoy reminiscing and in my peck and hunt typing I replied to his questions in some detail.
His siblings expressed some interest and asked some questions also and over a period of weeks I pecked out many long messages. I had no idea that they would result in what you see here.
I am deeply indebted to Clark for the many hours he spent in putting all of this into a website. I learned about it when he presented it to me at our family Christmas gathering. A great Christmas present indeed. At the same time he gave me a book "Before Their Time: A Memoir" by Robert Kotlowitz--which covers the story of another A.S.T.P. soldier who wound up in the 26th Infantry Div. Read it, its real.
Thanks Clark for a wonderful gift..
A Note from Clarke
Charlie's son and author of this website
My father began to commit this story to writing via email to his children in the spring and summer of 2000 - just 57 years after it all happened.
Most children of WWII veterans have little idea of what their parents did 'during the war'. I think this is partially due to what can be unpleasant memories and that these stories may seem somewhat trivial to the those who lived them.
I had almost no idea what my father experienced until he started writing it down.
As a child I thought it was pretty normal to have a dad who had been a soldier. I wanted to know if he got shot, or shot someone else and all the other vivid details to compare them with my neighborhood buddies and what we saw on T.V. and at the movies.
This has been an exciting process. Each email revealed things that helped me better understand my father and deepen the love and respect I feel for him. I have tried to imagine how difficult it must have been to leave home at eighteen and end up somewhere in Europe, to carry the anxiety for two brothers in the service and to have the responsibility to support his mother after his father's untimely death. I also realized how close Dad came to being a name on a white cross in a field in France, and how much we owe the men that do lie beneath them.
During a recent visit I talked dad into loaning me the pictures and mementos that illustrate the story. I have corrected the original informal email text where necessary but what you read here is pretty much how Dad first put it down.
Dad has resisted the temptation to romanticize. His recollections are of an eighteen-year-old soldier, at times with the weight of the world on his shoulders, and at times laughing at the absurdities all around him. In other words a pretty 'average Joe' in extraordinary circumstances.
Thousands of these average Joes share a unique place in the history of our Country and the world. The actions of these men shaped the world we live in today. None of their stories are insignificant, all of them deserve to be told.
If you are a Veteran, or know a veteran don't let a story disappear--see that it is told.
Shirley and Charlie Green where high school sweethearts who shared 53 years of marriage and a family of four children. Shirley died in August of 1998 after a long struggle with cancer but lives on in our hearts. She founded and led a support group for those suffering from Agoraphobia - Agoraphobics Leading Independent Lives or 'ABIL'.
The Green Family 1997
The Green Family 2015
Eulogy of Charles K. Green, Sr. Delivered September 17, 2016 by Deborah Green
For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Charlie Green’s oldest child and only daughter. One consequence of living to 91 is that Dad outlived his parents, his older sister and brothers, my Mom, and his oldest friends. Of those who could be here today, I’m the one who knew him the longest, so I’ll do my best to praise his life and do him proud.
It would be easy to simply describe my Dad as a member of “The Greatest Generation,” growing up in the shadow of the Great Depression, drafted to serve in WWII while still in high school, then marrying and raising a family, while working for a single corporation his entire career. And all who knew him know he definitely shared the core values of his generation: believing that you did not shirk responsibility, that being a good provider meant that your wife did not work outside the home, that good parents were authoritarian, and that you lived a frugal and humble life.
Though my Dad was the youngest of four children, responsibility came early. Not only did he face combat in his teens, his own father died suddenly while my Dad was in the service. That sense of responsibility deepened when Dad and his siblings found the life insurance premiums their father had paid had been diverted by an unscrupulous employer, requiring them to support their mother not only emotionally, but financially. Becoming a provider at such a young age meant no higher education; it meant getting a job and sticking with a corporate career, no matter how stressful and frustrating—and never bragging about your accomplishments.
Dad’s instructions, both for the obituary you may have seen in the Richmond-Times Dispatch and for this funeral, affirm his frugality and humility: He did want to document his military service and his career, and be recognized for his service by being buried at Arlington National Cemetery, but he left strict instructions that there be no “costly casket” or “funeral home fripperies.” He left out any mention of his Bronze Star or Purple Heart. And you’d never know from him that when his company conducted a widespread purging of middle-management personnel, Dad was instead promoted and transferred Richmond.
But saying he was a member of “the Greatest Generation” doesn’t fully explain who my Dad was. He was much more of a free spirit than those buttoned-down shirts revealed. He was intellectually curious and enjoyed learning things for learning’s sake, but was not the serious student he expected his children to be. Discussing the high school courses he’d taken and his grades, I was shocked at how cavalier he had been! I should have guessed this from the fact that his senior superlative was not “Most Likely to Succeed,” but “Prettiest Hair”! Yes hair!
Dad had a great sense of humor—but his puns were often real groaners, and, unfortunately, many of his signature jokes are a little risqué for church. He enjoyed playing pranks. One I remember most vividly was when he scared my then 18-year-old cousin into Sandra into near heart failure by popping out of a stairwell with a sheer stocking over his head and face shortly after he and my Mom came home from taking her to see the new movie “Psycho.”
Yet he had a nurturing side, too. Because of all the years my mother struggled with agoraphobia, he was not only the parent who looked for the monsters under the bed when I had a nightmare, but was the one who sat up with me when I had bouts of croup and couldn’t breathe, and who took all of us to our routine Dr. visits, as well as handling our medical emergencies.
Our house was filled with books and Dad encouraged us to read. I vividly remember picking out a novel from a bookcase in our den, and when Mom said I wasn’t old enough to read it—Dad saying I could read anything I wanted—and he followed through later by signing permission for me to check out books from the adult section of the public library.
He read books to us kids and his grandchildren and loved books as gifts. My brother Jim once told me he was sending Dad a non-fiction book that I was skeptical Dad would read—Jim said of course he would because it was hardback that cost a good bit and Dad wouldn’t be able to just give it away unread!
When Chuck and I were little, we lived in several places on Long Island, and family car trips meant singing Dad’s favorite Barbershop Quartet songs...in harmony. Those trips were to visit relatives or for camping trips. The first and only time we had a motel room was when Dad pitched the tent too close to a stream and the mosquitos ate him alive...
When Chuck and I were in high school in northern Virginia, we were left home to work our summer jobs while the family went to New Hampshire to see our aunt and uncle and cousins. Chuck had his first girlfriend and his first car—and unfortunately, it was while we were there alone that Chuck and the girl broke up and Chuck decided to drive to Texas! I tried to be the responsible big sister, persuading him to fly instead. As the good little girl, I usually escaped seeing Dad’s authoritarian side, but not that time!
When Clarke and Jim, got older, they got to learn about antiques when Dad took an interest in buying and restoring furniture and got a dealers’ license. We all grew up playing games that Dad chose—not athletic games—games like poker and cribbage! Dad did take up volleyball in retirement and played until he had his knee replacement when he was 82. He was able to continue to play Hearts with far-flung opponents on his computer until just a couple of years ago.
Dad enjoyed gardening and bird-watching until the end. Although his vegetable garden literally shrank in size over the last few years, there were a few tomato plants in his final garden. I helped him in the garden as a young child, and never understood until I was middle-aged that the reason my brothers didn’t share this passion for gardening was because Dad expected them to do the yard work!
Dad chose all the hymns for this service and most of the scripture many years ago. I have his mother’s Bible, and when I looked at it to review his choice of the Book of James, I knew instantly that it had been on his mind in his last days. When we talked about him dying, he said he wanted to do more good things!
When I first opened my grandmother’s Bible this week I saw the inscription in her hand: “To live in the hearts of those we leave behind is not to die.” Please hold my Dad in your hearts.