Like a lot of people who fully understand the concept of volunteering to do something, Ruth Greene of Booneville is not your average veteran.
Retired after a service career that spanned 28 years, including deployments as well as a peacekeeping mission Greene is actually a naturalized citizen who served her country.
“My parents adopted me when they were in Germany. I am a naturalized citizen, my (birth) parents are German,” said Greene. “I’m proud, that’s why I respect my parents. The thing is, I was brought to the states and given the things I might never have.
“In turn with that, I wanted to give back by serving.”
Greene is the only of four children, including a twin, Becky Glover, who was also adopted by Kenneth Greene and his wife, who chose the military as a career.
“I’m the only one out of the kids who actually went in the Army, but we were really raised in a military-type background most of our life,” said Greene. “My dad retired shortly after he came back to the states.”
Following her father’s footsteps was a decision Greene has not regretted.
“I love the military. I miss it. I never thought I would miss it a much as I do. I miss my fellow-soldiers because we were like family. I talk to a lot of them, we stay in touch.”
People come up and say ‘Thank you for this,’” said Greene. “I was honored. I was honored to defend they way you guys live. It was my pleasure, I didn’t do it for anybody to praise me. I did it because it was something I wanted to do. I wanted to give back because something was given to me.”
Then why leave? Family.
“I had been away from my family all this time. I think the nearest installation was between Fort Sill and Fort Leonardwood — five hours away,” said Greene.
Fort Jackson, Montgomery, Ala., and multiple others took Greene even further away from her family at other times in her career that spanned time as a supply clerk before moving into tankers.
“I wanted something more challenging. I enjoyed driving tanks and I ended up being their maintenance supervisor,” said Greene.
Greene said she missed her nieces and nephews growing up and was doing the same with the great-nieces and great-nephews, so she called it a career.
“They’re now into sports and I get to see them, and be an example to them. Anything you try, if you give it 110 percent, you can succeed,” said Greene.
Even in retirement, she is still driving a big vehicle, though it is now a school bus for the Booneville School District.
Greene retired as a Master Sgt. — though she was acting as a First Sargent at Fort Sill — in Feb. 1, 2013. However, because she was on terminal leave — using stored hours until her retirement — she actually started substitute teaching for the school, and driving a bus, in 2012.
“The reason that I did was I wanted to be able to encourage kids that if you have a dream and you pursue it and do everything, then you can do it,” said Greene. “It don’t matter what your lifestyle is, what you do or do not have.
“We weren’t rich. My parents both worked. They gave me a good life and I learned from that, value.”
She also believes the military is a solid option for any young person.
“You’ve got to graduate — I don’t think they take GEDs any more because they don’t need as many. I think the military is the way. It makes you learn values, leadership and also if you pursue it and want it, you can get a (college) degree.”
She did so herself.
Greene graduated from Booneville High School in 1979 with an academic scholarship and a plan to meet the world head-on and become rich.
Three years later, scholarship gone, she was still not rich and was paying her own way to school.
Five years removed from high school Greene went into the Army Reserves in Fort Chaffee. A couple years later she moved to active duty and started a worldwide journey.
“I’ve been all over,” said Greene. “I was deployed twice, I actually was in Dessert Storm. If we had stayed into that one we probably wouldn’t have been into this other one (Iraq), and we did a peacekeeping mission in Honduras with a unit out of Fort Hood.
“That was six months of basically building their schools and improve their lifestyle.”
The peacekeeping mission left an impression.
“That was really interesting to see. When I came back I was like we all live in mansions. We have running water, we live in houses with roofs and doors and windows — they don’t,” she said. “It was an eye-opener. It made me really know what we have is very perishable.
“I always say we ought to take our kids over there and let them see what life can be.”
Consequently, Greene predictably doesn’t get the National Anthem protests of Colin Kaepernick and others.
“I don’t necessarily agree with their theory behind not standing. There are other ways to get your point across,” she said. “When we were deployed we had some people there from other countries stationed with us. One happened to be Korea. They don’t give their kids the option, once you graduate you go into the military, you don’t have a choice.
“You serve so many years in there and I’m thinking, we give (kids) the freedom. We give them the option. You volunteer. I wasn’t drafted. I volunteered to do this.”
Greene is also highly decorated.
Her awards include the Armed forces medal with 20 year device silver hour glass; Meritorious service medal (4th award); Army commendation medal (3rd award); Army achievement metal (4th award); Army good conduct medal (9th award); National defense service medal with three bronze service stars; Global war on terrorism service medal; Non commissioned officer professional development ribbon (3rd award); Army service ribbon; Overseas service ribbon; Combat action badge; Driver and mechanic badge w/ driver-wheeled vehicle clasp; Sharp shooters badge; and 18th airborne badge.