Paul Green died Tuesday, Feb 24, at the age of 91. A true pioneer and ground breaker in the Air Force, his final USAF assignment brought him to San Bernardino as Commander of Norton Air Force Base in 1974, two years before his retirement after 33 years of service. Following retirement he was recognized many times for his service and commitment to our community including his term as President of our Rotary Club of San Bernardino.
Paul was club president during the Rotary year of 1988-1989. He is remembered as a gracious, genuine guy – totally trustworthy, totally dependable – with a gentle chuckle that could light up a room and no trace of resentment or bitterness toward the barriers he experienced in his life.
Paul’s mother died when he was 6 and he taken in at the Ohio Soldiers and Sailors Orphans Home in Xenia, Ohio. It was integrated and run like a military school where the boys learned drills, discipline, and classwork together. But when he graduated from high school, trained as an electrician, his teacher could find jobs for the white boys but not the two blacks.
His mentor and father figure, Karl Schliep urged him to go to college but Paul didn’t have the money. He went instead to work at nearby Wright-Patterson Air Force Base where he saw a poster that said, “The Air Force needs pilots.” That poster changed his life.
Paul studied, trained, and passed all the requirements for pilot training: academic, physical and psychological. But military leaders at that time did not think blacks could do anything so complicated as piloting as aircraft and Paul was barred from trying.
Drafted into the Army Quartermaster Corps in 1943, he learned of the recently approved Tuskegee Airmen program. Paul was accepted in 1944 and joined a class of 340 prospective aviators. He was one of the 30 who graduated; the other 310 had dropped out along the way.
Paul credits his years at the orphanage and Schliep’s guidance for preparing him for the Air Force. “He put me in the right direction, almost any success I had, I would say it came from that orphans home.”.
Upon completion of flight school, he joined the 99th Fighter Squadron and flew combat missions in Italy. A Command Pilot who accumulated than 5,000 flying hours, he flew a wide variety of aircraft. In turns, he became a Squadron and then a Wing Electronics Officer, a Mission Commander of an Organizational Maintenance Squadron, Aircraft Maintenance Control Officer, a Wing Chief of Maintenance, and a Wing Deputy Commander for Logistics.
During WWII Paul returned to Xenia, Ohio, while on leave. He met a girl who was also born in the same small town. “Paul came back as a commissioned officer,” said Angel. “He asked me to dinner and the rest is history.” They were married 68 years and have two children: daughter Noriko, living in Georgia and son Galen, living in Studio City. They also have three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
The Greens moved 38 times in their 30 years in the Air Force, including Japan, the Philippines, Vietnam and Germany. Paul was stationed in some extreme places ranging from T-3, an ice island at the geographic North Pole, to the jungles of Southern Asia. Some of Angel’s memories from this time are bittersweet. She recalls visiting South Carolina where they were pushed off the sidewalks because blacks had to walk in the street where they belonged.
Paul always rose above such difficulties. In all, he received 18 military awards, honors, and decorations including the Meritorious Service Medal, the Air Medal, the Bronze Star and the Presidential Unit Citation, all with Oak Leaf Clusters. He is remembered in his military career for his leadership and accomplishment.
These same qualities were also well recognized in our community. In addition to his presidency of our Rotary Club he served as a member of the Board of Governors of the National Orange Show as well as many other community boards (Arrowhead United Way, the YMCA, San Bernardino Tournament of Roses Association,  . . . the list goes on).
In February 2006, Colonel Green received an Honorary Doctorate in Public Service from Tuskegee University in Alabama. He was Grand Marshal of the 2006 Highland Fourth of July Parade and now has a street named after him in Highland. In 2007 he was named "Unforgettable Citizen of The Year" by The Unforgettables Foundation. He had the honor or riding on the Tuskegee float, “A Cut Above the Rest”, in the 2009 Rose Parade. And he was awarded the Heroes of the Heartland Award by Stator Bros. Charities in 2012.

Throughout, Paul lived steadfastly by 12 principles that he wrote down as a bill of personal responsibilities for the men under his command. The first was the Golden Rule and the last ended with “It is my responsibility to do those things now that will make this world a better place after I am gone.
A visitation will be held on Sunday, March 15 from 3-5pm with a service on Monday, Mar 16 at 9:30am. Both will be at Bobbitt Memorial Chapel, 1299 E Highland Ave in San Bernardino. The Committal Service with full military honors will follow at 12:00 noon at Riverside National Cemetery, 22495 Van Buren Blvd, Riverside, CA 92418. 

Many thanks to Cassie MacDuff, the SB Sun, and the Highland Community News for most of the above information.