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WWII vet visits D.C. for Honor Flight

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POSTED: May 23, 2011 10:12 a.m.
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It’s not difficult to see why a bus ride is a sentimental journey for Robert Greene. Here, he holds photographs from the 1940s of his late wife Mildred and himself as a Navy man. They met in 1947 when she boarded a bus from Savannah to Columbus, which he was driving for Atlantic Trailways. (Al Hackle)

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Bus travel has been very important in the life of World War II veteran Robert Greene, so the fact that last weekend’s Honor Flight trip to Washington, D.C., was by bus didn’t bother him one bit.

A Navy Seabee during the war, Greene afterwards logged 3 million miles during almost 38 years as a professional bus driver. He even met the love of his life on a bus.

Now 88, Greene, who lives in the Eldora area of northern Bryan County, is one of 24 veterans Honor Flight Savannah is sending by luxury motor coach to see the World War II Memorial and other sights during a one-day, two-night excursion.

“I’ll just tell the driver, if you get sleepy, I’ll take over a little while and let you rest,” joshed Greene.

Even his wartime enlistment began with a bus trip out of Pembroke, although he and his family were by then residents of Savannah. He has since bought back land at Eldora that his grandparents first purchased in 1882. But in 1942, his father suffered a debilitating stroke and his mother sold the farm and moved the family to Savannah.

Greene, who had left school in 10th grade, had already taken a job welding at Savannah’s Southeastern Shipyard. But his registration was still with the Bryan County draft board when he was called up in February 1943. The bus ride took him to Fort McPherson in Atlanta, then a processing hub for draftees.

Although his draft notice was for the Army, Greene raised his hand when a Navy man showed up with a bullhorn and announced that the Navy was short on recruits. He hesitated when he heard another call for volunteers, this time for just six men for the Seabees. The now famous Navy construction battalions had been authorized just one year earlier.

“I didn’t know what it was and nobody else did either,” Greene recalled.

Read more in the May 21 edition of the News.

 

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