Joe “Bro” Green, a World War II Army veteran who marks a century on this earth on Thursday, is much like many Americans of the Greatest Generation, frugal but generous, plain spoken but able to get his point across, humble and patriotic.
First Baptist Church in South Boston honored Green at its Sunday service complete with a standing ovation for serving as secretary for the Lacy Bible Class for more than 50 years, but Green has always been young at heart, with determination to match it.
Green, who mowed his own lawn until he was 99 years old and raised a garden well into his 90s, grew up in South Boston.
He is the son of Ernest G. Green and Lottie Rogers Green, and he had five sisters, of which two are still living, Lottie and Myrtle. Mary Emma, Ruby Lee and Virginia along with one brother, Ernie, and two half-brothers, Frank and O.D., are now deceased.
The name “Bro” is short for brother, according to Green, who added that Mary Emma was called “Sis,” short for sister.
Green recalled he could always find a pickup game of baseball or football while he was growing up, but sports and life in general changed abruptly when he joined millions of fellow Americans to fight for his country in World War II.
Green, who was inducted into the Army on July 14, 1941, recalls he took a bus from Patterson’s in South Boston to Roanoke, then to Camp Lee at Petersburg, where he stayed for 13 weeks before being assigned to Fort Bragg.
“I was on KP (kitchen patrol) at Fort Bragg when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor,” recalled Green, who shipped out from Norfolk to North Africa, a miserable trip, where a number of servicemen got ill on the rolling seas.
“I lived off boiled eggs and candy bars,” Green said.
Green recalls arriving in Normandy shortly after D-Day and being on furlough in London on VJ Day, the end of World War II.
Green drove an ambulance the entire time he was in the Army, and he recalled he was at the front lines most of the time, driving ambulance No. 345 for Company C, 9th Medical Battalion in nine different campaigns.
He logged thousands of miles while driving in Algeria, French Morocco, Tunisia, Sicily, Normandy, Northern France, the Rhineland, the Ardennes and central Europe, being honorably discharged on Aug. 7, 1945.
Green was awarded a number of medals for his service to his nation, including the Bronze Star Medal, Good Conduct Medal, American Defense Service Medal and European African Middle Eastern Service Ribbon with one bronze arrowhead.
Green, a member of both American Legion Post 8 and VFW Post 8243, worked as a pressman for both newspapers in South Boston in civilian life, and he and his wife, Gladys Perkins Green, raised a daughter, Pam, and a son, Steve.
Green is a talented carpenter who enjoys wood-working, and he has built everything from bookcases to picture frames and storage cabinets.
In his gardening days, he produced everything from tomatoes, squash, cucumbers and beans, and he always was willing to share his bounty with family and friends.
Green, reserved by nature, has been reading newspaper accounts of soldiers his generation who liberated Europe from Nazi occupation, nodding with approval the sentiments they express.
He only asks that their sacrifices are not forgotten.