Home / Featured / [UPDATED] Auburn man among real POWs featured in ‘Back To Bataan’; John Wayne film premiered at Tiger Theatre

[UPDATED] Auburn man among real POWs featured in ‘Back To Bataan’; John Wayne film premiered at Tiger Theatre

[UPDATE] After some digging in the Plainsman, we’ve learned that the world premiere of Back To Bataan was actually held at the Tiger Theatre, thanks of course to Green’s Auburn connection. He didn’t graduate from API. But he married an Auburn girl and they lived at 326 Armstrong Street, and hey, Armstrong is a solid Auburn street.

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Here’s what we know thanks to TWER’s resident Auburn military history researcher Kenny Smith: That actually is the real George W. Greene (in the books on the subject his name is spelled Green) marching with the real POW’s in the 1945 John Wayne WWII flick Back to Bataan, which explains the aged look for a lieutenant — that and the hell those guys went through. (Can’t see the video? Try here.)

Kenny writes: “You’d assume that he would have been in school and graduating around that time to be a lieutenant, but the pre-wartime of WWII was a little quirky, organizationally. (Your basic history class omits the massive buildup that FDR had spooling up even before we were in the war, and then your casual reading of history explains how far they were still behind, it was a helluva a way to fight a war, as they say.)

“The other thing is his status in the reserves, which also plays into the pre-war issues above. So we might have to look back farther–a George W. Greene isn’t listed in the ’38-’39-’40 Glomeratas–or consider that he was from Auburn but did not attend API. To receive a commission he went to college or OCS somewhere, though.”

He was educated somewhere, that much we know. He became a professor after the war.  This guy was one of Greene’s students. And  Smith found this, published in something called The Quan, probably a specialty newspaper/letter for Philippines vets, from Pittsburgh, PA, in April 1964.

Catawaba College
Salisbury North Carolina

… Comdr. George W. Greene, veteran of Bataan and Corregidor, and Chairman of our Political and Social Science Department, died January 1960 of heart failure. He is buried at Ridgecrest, North Carolina.

His son is a Lt. in the USN, serving aboard a nuclear sub. He was navigator on one of the subs which made a rendezvous at the North Pole.

Sincerely Peter P. Cooper

Auburn alum or not (hell, Auburn fan or not–though of course he was), War Eagle forever, Commander Greene. And thank you. Forever.

Here’s the story of another Auburn man, a former football player, referenced by name in a WWII movie.

Eagle Eye Award to Larry Lofton.

UPDATE: Check out the comments for another piece to Greene’s story and a link to five quick pages of gripping reading.

Related: HBO sends WWII hero Eugene Sledge to Auburn in ‘The Pacific’

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