Major General Harold J. Greene was remembered today at a somber Pentagon ceremony that focused on his leadership and love for his family. There as almost no mention of last week’s insider attack in Afghanistan that made Greene the highest-ranking officer to be killed in combat during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
An overflow crowd gathered at the Pentagon Auditorium for a poignant memorial service to hear from Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno and Greene’s co-workers.
At the foot of the stage a photo of Greene had been placed before a helmet, rifle and boots formed the “battle cross” that is symbolic of a soldier slain in battle.
Greene was an acquisitions officer and engineer for much of his 34-year career and was serving in Afghanistan as the deputy commander of Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan which is responsible for the training of Afghan security forces.
Noting the overflow crowd gathered for the ceremony, Odierno said “my guess is, we probably could have done this in a 10,000 seat stadium and filled the stadium today because there are so many people that cared for Harry Greene.”
Odierno said he had recommended Greene for that job because “I knew Harry was the right man” and knew that serving that post “he personally made an incredible difference in improving the Afghan institution.”
Odierno praised Greene as being “more than a soldier, he was a great man, caring father, a devoted husband and a loyal friend, he had a passion for his family.”
But Odierno said Greene would be most remembered for his leadership and the lives of those he touched as he served as “the epitome of what we hope and expect from our senior leaders.”
He added, “Harry Greene is a representative of the sacrifice of the men and women who have given so much and are not afraid to give their lives for this nation.”
Heidi Shyu, assistant secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology described Greene as being “passionate about our responsibility to provide the soldier with the best equipment in this world.”
She recalled a trip to Afghanistan earlier this year where she met with Greene and asked him how he was facing the challenges of his job.
To laughter she quoted his response, “He told me in no uncertain terms, it got me out of the Pentagon!” She added, “and there’s no other place that he would rather be because he’s surrounded by soldiers. He truly loved what he was doing.”
Shyu recalled Greene’s jovial personality who lightened up any meeting with jokes while working “a dedicated professional who put countless hours in.”
She noted it might be “tempting to think that this loss leaves behind an unfulfilled promise or an incomplete career. However, if he were here, I know that harry would remind us that he lived his life to the fullest in service to his country in support of those he cared for.”
Greene will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery on Thursday afternoon.