Over the past 18 months, Lt. Cmdr. Fred Green Jr., USN (Ret), has volunteered nearly 500 hours giving tours to visitors of the USS Midway Museum in San Diego. He looks at the experience as a way to give back and educate the public about the ship.
“I’m bringing the ship alive, letting people know what it is to have served,” he said.
Volunteering as a docent is just one of many ways Green gives back to his community. He also is a senior volunteer with the California Highway Patrol (CHP). He and his fellow volunteers serve as an extension of the CHP, assisting with administration and public affairs and driving official vehicles to help with traffic flow and escorting other vehicles.
“It’s great working with the officers,” said Green, who works with the CHP about 20 hours a month. “Some people look at them with one eye and don’t realize the human side.”
In addition, Green is the service officer for American Legion El Cajon Post 303 and is wrapping up his two-year term as president of MOAA’s California Council of Chapters (CoC). For MOAA, he has been instrumental in educating state lawmakers about key issues that affect the military and veterans’ community. He wrote a bill to provide a state tax exemption for retired members of the uniformed services at age 60. Though the bill did not pass, he and others MOAA members in the state continue working the issue.
Another initiative he spearheaded is emphasizing the importance of surviving spouses in MOAA chapters and ensuring they have a voice.
“Looking at the steps I’ve personally gone through and life lessons, I decided I wanted to focus on surviving spouses,” he said. “[Surviving spouses] also served. They moved. They followed the rules like their military spouse.”
A component of that initiative is ensuring MOAA members are educated about preparing for the death of their spouse.
“When I retired, my wife had me … make a plan,” Green said. “I talked to Kathy Prout [California CoC surviving spouse liaison] about what we need to educate our people about. My mother educated my wife early in life. She told her she needed to set up her own banking account and credit card in her name, so she would have established credit if I died.”
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Green’s presidency in the California CoC is notable not only for his many accomplishments during his tenure. He also is the first person of color to hold that position.
This is not the only “first” for Green. When he graduated from California State University Northridge in 1975, completing the ROTC program and earning a bachelor’s degree in political science with a history minor, he became the first in his family to earn a degree and a military commission.
During his Navy career, Green served at sea on numerous ships, including USS Henderson, Constellation, Higbee, and Barbour County, in assignments such as equal opportunity officer and damage control assistance. His shore duties included naval gunfire instructor, Fleet Training Group.
After he retired from the Navy in 1996, he worked as a defense contractor as a systems engineer and logistics engineer. He then taught public school for eight years. “This was my high school dream,” he said of teaching.
Green returned to defense contracting, working for Raytheon and Northrop Grumman before fully retiring in February 2021 and focusing on his volunteer activities, which include his recent selection to national MOAA’s board of directors.
When he looks back on his Navy career, he does so fondly.
“There are some negatives, but why look back on those? The positives are happier,” he said. “With Navy, you get to see the world. You have shipmates and that lasting bond. And you come out with great sea stories.”
That bond and camaraderie is something Green appreciates about volunteering on the Midway. “Docents come from all walks of life. They don’t have to have served in the military,” he explained. “But your ship is your bond, so we’re all shipmates on the Midway.”