By Dean Poling dean.poling@gaflnews.com

 VALDOSTA — While servicemen saluted generals in the Pentagon, Parker Greene called them by their first names.

More importantly for Moody Air Force Base and South Georgia, generals and Department of Defense knew Parker Greene by his first name.

“It’s who you know,” Greene said in an interview about a dozen years ago. “I’ve made a lot of friends  … There are currently 12 four-stars (generals) in the Air Force and there’s not one of them that I don’t know personally.”

As a story in a Valdosta Daily Times publication noted in the early 2000s, the chairman of the Moody Support Committee was “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.”

With Southern charm, an unassuming air and an extensive knowledge of Moody AFB, Georgia military bases and the Air Force, Greene ensured that Moody remained safe from base-closure lists, airmen received what they needed from the military and community and that South Georgia never took the base for granted.

Greene died Tuesday. He was 86 years old.

“In my life, I have never known a more giving, loving, humble servant than Parker,” said Larry Hanson, Georgia Municipal Association executive director and former Valdosta city manager. “He was a devoted husband, father and friend to literally thousands of lives he and Dr. Lucy (Greene, Parker’s wife) have touched over the years.

“Their work on behalf of Moody as a labor of love is without a doubt, the primary reason for Moody’s missions, it’s importance to the USAF and to the defense of our country. Parker’s influence is so vast and so unique that I will say it is unmatched by any private citizen in this country. It was built on trust, on relationships and by always asking ‘what can we do for you?’

“Parker was my friend, mentor and a father figure in my life. Valdosta and Lowndes County mourn, Moody mourns, ACC mourns and the USAF mourns the loss of a giant of a man and a great patriot,” Hanson said.

Greene arrived in Valdosta on March 1, 1970. His first day, he visited the Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce. He wanted to get involved with the community immediately.

The chamber placed him on the military affairs committee. He proved a natural. He made numerous contacts as a committee member.

In the early 1990s, Moody was placed on the Base Re-alignment and Closure list. The Moody Support Committee successfully had Moody removed from the BRAC list.

Greene was named executive director of the committee after the base was saved. His chief mission was ensuring Moody would never again be placed on a BRAC list. He succeeded.

He was also successful in making lifelong friends with the men and women serving at Moody. Greene was often referred to as “Moody’s best friend.”

“Get to know them,” Greene told community leaders referring to the men and women serving Moody AFB. “There are some real heroes out there everywhere you turn.”

In 2007, the consolidated base support center at Moody was named for Greene and Gen. T. Michael Moseley presented Greene with the first-ever Chief of Staff Exceptional Service Award. The ceremony also honored Lucy Greene for her commitment; their children, Buck and Sharon, were also present.

As an editorial noted then, “Parker Greene and wife Dr. Lucy Greene have been referred to as the region’s civilian secret weapons in regard to keeping Moody Air Force Base open and viable. The Greenes have served as liaisons between the military leadership in Washington, D.C., and the leadership of South Georgia.”

In 2008, Greene received the Loyce W. Turner Award for Public Service given by Valdosta State University Public Administration Advisory Council.

He also received the highest honor the Air Force bestows on a civilian — the Air Force Distinguished Public Service Award.

The award stated Greene “distinguished himself by service as an Air Force advocate, with both an intimate knowledge of Air Force operations and a deep grasp of social and economic issues vital to Moody AFB. He has expertly advised the secretary of the Air Force, the chief of staff and senior Air Force leaders on these matters while serving as an Air Force civic leader to the community surrounding the installation.”

 “Parker was a great American who worked tirelessly to support and improve the lives of Airmen and their families. He left an unparalleled legacy of selflessness, kindness and service to others. He will be deeply missed by Team Moody,” said Colonel Jennifer Short, 23d Wing Commander.

 Funeral arrangements were incomplete at press time.