He's on a first name basis with the secretary of defense and every general in the Air Force. His name opens doors in the Pentagon officially closed to other private citizens. No one in Washington D.C. is ever too busy to talk when he calls -- no one. And yet this unassuming 72-year old southern gentleman never boasts or brags about his contacts, feeling that the spotlight should be shown instead on his primary mission--the protection of Moody Air Force Base in Valdosta.
"No other base in the country has a program like this," said Parker Greene, the chairman of the Moody Support Committee. Paid to campaign on behalf of the base since retiring from his business a decade ago, Greene is credited with changing the entire mission at Moody, making the installation as "BRAC-proof" (base realignment and closure) as any.
"It's who you know. I've made a lot of friends in the last 34 years. There are currently 12 four-stars (generals) in the Air Force and there's not one of them that I don't know personally," he said.
Greene arrived in Valdosta on March 1, 1970 and visited the Chamber of Commerce to get involved the very day he came to town. "I wanted a job, so they put me on the military affairs committee."
Through the committee, Greene made such valuable contacts he was a natural for the job with the support committee when it was formed by the City of Valdosta and Lowndes County following a base closure scare in the early 1990s.
Devoting 50 to 60 hours per week to the job, Greene is always on call to help those in the military. "There are certain things I can get done because I'm not in uniform."
Currently gearing up to meet the challenge of the next BRAC round in 2005, dubbed "the mother of all base closures," his trips to Washington have become more frequent and taken on a new air of urgency and importance.
According to Greene, "After the next round, I'm pretty confident Moody will still be here and Georgia will come out all right, if I have any say so in the matter." And we're sure he will.
-- Kay Harris
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