John H. Green

NO. 17652  •  30 Apr 1926 - 15 Oct 1952

Killed in Action in Korea

John Henry Green crammed about as much living, loving, and leading as humanly possible into his short 26-year lifespan. The quiet sterner's young life was snuffed out in a fierce firefight in the rough and rocky terrain near Kumhwa, Korea.

Born in Orville, CA, in 1926, John was raised in Green River, WY, a town of about 11,000, tucked in the southwest corner of the state. Upon graduation from Lincoln High School in June 1944, John enlisted in the Army Air Corps. A professional military career soon beckoned, however, and, in January 1946, Green sought and won an appointment to the United States Military Academy from Senator Joseph O'Mahoney. The young soldier was enrolled at West Point Prep at Amherst College, MA, to sharpen the academic skills he would need as a plebe.

John Green's massive shoulders stood out as hundreds of new cadets formed up for swearing-in ceremonies on the Plain early in June 1946. Cadet store tailors surely worked overtime refashioning dress coats, jackets, and tunics to fit Green's impressive frame.

Academically, John was a good student with a wide array of extracurricular activities. CDT Sergeant Green of I company, 2d regiment, was a member of the camera, debate, ski, and (of course) weightlifting clubs. His first love, however, was gymnastics, where, as a plebe, he mastered difficult high bar routines and won numerals.

As a first classman, John was awarded his letter as a rope climber, helping Army win the eastern intercollegiate team championship that year.

Graduation ceremonies for Class of '50 were on June 6th. Later that month, the handsome blonde officer was in demand as usher and groomsman at his classmates' weddings. The new 2LT John Green wooed and won the heart of Doris Eleanor Bridges, a petite and attractive chestnut-haired native of Greenville, SC. They were married in Greenville on 27 Dec 1950.

The North Korean Communist attack on South Korea shortly after graduation plunged a shocked United States into another Asian war. Green and hundreds of his cadet classmates (along with thousands of American and U.N. troops) headed for the Korean peninsula from 1950-51. When 1 LT Green took over company B of the 32d Infantry in 1952, the one-time air cadet, Army corporal, and cadet sergeant had completed airborne training, platoon leader school, and other specialized training at Ft. Benning, GA.

In early October 1952, the large-scale Operation Showdown was approved by Far East Commander General Mark Clark for elements of the Eighth Army to seize Hill 598, the famous Triangle Hill located squarely in the middle of the DMZ.

Earlier that summer, Lieutenant Green was seriously wounded but returned to action within two months to lead company B of the 32nd regiment in Operation Showdown. Heavy air strikes and artillery barrages preceded the attack. Thousands of seasoned enemy troops responded with vigorous counterattacks during the next eight days. LT Green played a pivotal role, defined in detail by the citation posthumously awarding him the Distinguished Service Cross. His award citation is as follows: "LT Green, a member of an infantry company, distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action against the enemy in the vicinity of Kumhwa, Korea. On 15 Oct 1952, Lieutenant Green, a company commander, led his men in an assault on a vital enemy position through a barrage of small­arms, artillery and mortar fire. In the course of the attack, the company was subjected to fire from a camouflaged position, threatening to halt the advance, Lieutenant Green, leaping from cover into a communication trench, without regard for his own safety, hurled hand grenades to neutralize the enemy machine gun. When the company was again subjected to devastating fire from a tunnel under one of the trenches, Lieutenant Green moved forward to destroy the position and, in the process of silencing the guns, received wounds which later became fatal. Resuming the advance despite his painful wounds, Lieutenant Green led his men in an attack against the hostile forces. His courageous and inspirational leadership was greatly responsible for routing the enemy and securing the strategic ground. The extraordinary heroism exhibited by Lieutenant Green on this occasion reflects great credit on himself and is in keeping with the finest traditions of the military service."

1 LT Green's broad shoulders could not shield a heroic heart against enemy bullets and shrapnel. Operation Showdown ended major U.S. involvement in the Korean War at a total cost of 365 American soldiers killed in action and 1,174 wounded.

John's battle death "saddened the entire town," when it was reported in his hometown paper, the Green River Star (Wyoming). "Johnny was well known there and had many friends who kept track of his military career."

John's roommate, Luther B. Aull, and his wife, Louise, also of Greenville, SC, named their two sons John and Edmund after John Green and Edmund J. Lilly III, both of whom were killed in action during the Korean War " a living memorial to the sons John and Ted never had."

John was survived by his mother, Mrs. Kenneth Young; his wife, Doris Green; and his ten-month-old daughter, Janet Eileen; all living in Green River, WY, at the time of his death.

- Written by classmate Donald E Dunbar