[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.
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.
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’
If you’d like to help TWER keep on keepin’ on, click here.
* Bo Jackson’s pencil mustache
* VIDEO: Dog dominates 1964 Auburn scrimmage
* Secondhand Shug
* Smithsonian Magazine photographs kid in Auburn hat at Texas prom
* The WiFi Network Names of Auburn
* Auburn’s Legend of Zelda
* Tomatoes growing at Toomer’s Corner
* That OTHER time they burned the Glom
Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter. Want to advertise?
Cool! Glad you found it! Thanks!
Thank you to all our Service men and women, especially those of the “Greatest Generation” who endured what they did to make this Country great.
WDE T says
Just FYI Commander is abbreviated CDR. War Eagle CDR Green.
Exceprt from here:
“Lieut. George W. Green of
Auburn, Ala., former Manila broker and reserve Naval
Intelligence officer, said: “I was captured when the last
organized American resistance ceased in 1942. They wanted
to take me to Japan, but I was saved by illness.” Green
got up and not only walked, but ran last night, for the
first time in years, when he forgot his arthritis upon
hearing American Rangers yell for all prisoners to make
for the camp entrance.”
The book and movie on this rescue are pretty fascinating. If I remember correctly it was the largest POW rescue ot the war.
You may have to go further back than ’38. A senior grade Lieutenant in the Navy could have been commissioned as an ensign as early as 1931 or so. The rank is equivalent to an Army Captain (it goes: Ensign – LT Junior Grade- LT Senior Grade) and he might have as many as ten years in before promoted to Lieutenant Commander (equivalent to an Army Major).
DAVID IRVINE says
Lt. Greene’s son, Jimmy, was in my sixth-grade class in Lee County High School (which contained grades 1 – 12) in Auburn at the time his father was a POW. Jimmy and his mother lived with his grandmother during that period.
David Irvine, Lee County High School, class of 1950. Auburn University, class of 1954