BY DR. BARBARA J. MCLEAN-SMITH
ORLANDO – Promoted and pinned to the prestigious rank of Colonel in the United States Army on February 11, 2023, in Leesburg, FL, Colonel Kelley L. Greene is indeed a woman of distinction.
Considered and often referenced to as a “military brat”, Colonel Greene lived between the northeast U.S., St. Croix, United States Virgin Island (USVI) and Nurnberg, Germany where she attended 9 different schools over her 12 years of primary education. Returning to Florida, a high school senior, Colonel Greene has local significance as a graduate of Apopka High School in 1988 and also a graduate of the University of Florida, Gainesville where she earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in 1994.
Captain Lorenzo Greene, Colonel Greene’s father is retired. Her mother, Mrs. Francenia Greene, a “military spouse” is the glue who holds it all together. Colonel Greene’s family, in addition to her father consists of her brother, Kevin Greene Sr.; her brother-in-law, MAJ Christopher Doroban, retired, Ordinance Officer; her uncle, CSM Jonny Collier (retired); an aunt, Wanda Roberson, (USAF); uncles, Alphonzo and Calvin Greene, and cousin, 1st LT Donald Brooks. Her uncles, Moses Davis, Robert and Ellis Woods served during World War II. These men, women, and their families all selflessly served the Military of the United States of America.
Colonel Greene has, unquestionably, generational military roots as she is also a relative of PFC Anne P. Knight, her aunt, who was a member of the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion. The 6888 was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal on March 14, 2022, as Congress’ highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions during World War II. The 6888 was the “only all Negro, female” unit of 855 Soldiers who volunteered to serve their country. They were deployed to Birmingham, England and then France before returning to America. Their primary role and duty were the clearing out a two-year backlog of mail sent to Army Soldiers. These courageous women tirelessly worked three shifts around the clock to read names, addresses, to sort and to redirect the mail sent to service members around the battlefield, in various countries, to include, but not limited to Germany, Italy and France. Their motto: “No Mail, Low Morale” drove them to work even harder. Colonel Greene states that she “Stands on her aunt’s shoulders”. These women returned to America without fanfare, “no welcoming committee and no ‘Ticker Tape Parade’ says Colonel Greene. “They could not join the Women’s Army Corp (WACs) where other women served in non-combat positions. “Never before had women, with the exception of nurses, served within the ranks of the U.S. Army”. The 6888, instead, returned to “Jim Crow America”. Of honor, however, is her Aunt, PFC, Anne P. Knight who is interred at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia. ***
Colonel Greene taught eighth (8th) grade science at South Sumter Middle School, Webster, FL where she left an indelible mark on her students and fellow teachers before she launched her military journey at Fort Jackson, South Carolina in 1999.
Colonel Greene was commissioned as a Military Intelligence officer in April 2000 from the Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning, Georgia. She is a graduate of the Military Intelligence Officer Basic and Advance Courses, Combined Arms Exercise Course, Command and General Staff College (Resident-course), Advanced Intelligence Analyst Course, and earned an additional skill identifier as a Space enabler. Colonel Kelley also earned a Master of Military Science degree in Military Studies while attending the residence course at the Army Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas in 2013. Her curriculum vitae is by no means “short”, nor does it signify all that she has accomplished and plans to accomplish.
Colonel Greene has served in a variety of key development assignments over her military career, often serving in more than one position at any given time. “After receiving her commission as a Lieutenant (LT) she was assigned as a platoon leader and adjutant at the 102nd Military Intelligence Battalion (MI BN), Camp Essayons, South Korea. The site of Camp Essayons, a former U.S. Army outpost in Uijeongbu, South Korea, is set to become a 24-acre public park by December 2025. She served as the Company Commander and Battalion intelligence officer for the 184th Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Battalion during a deployment to Bagram, Afghanistan in 2003 where she earned the Army Commendation Medal for exceptional service.
Now a war veteran, the then LT, and now, Colonel Greene returned to the U.S. and transitioned from the active component to the Army Reserves as an active guard reserve (AGR) officer. After being assessed into the AGR program, she was assigned U.S Southern Command in Doral, Florida, as the J2 Reserve Liaison Officer where she managed over 460 joint positions and was also “hand-picked” to serve as the executive officer for the Deputy Director of Analysis & Production. In 2008, Colonel Greene deployed to South America as a force protection analyst at the U.S. Embassy in Bogota, Colombia. In 2013, she moved to Camp Parks, California where she served as the Deputy Chief for the Analysis and Control Element at the 368th MI BN. After only ten months on station, she was selected to attend resident Command and General Staff College (CGSC) at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas where she also earned a master’s degree in military science. After CGSC, The then, LTC Greene moved to Orlando, Florida where she served as the Executive Officer for the 377th Military Intelligence Battalion. In May 2015 she was assigned to U.S. Army South as an intelligence planner and Chief of the Intelligence Mission Command Post. As a result of her analytical expertise, Colonel Greene was “hand-picked” to serve as the first Army Director for the Operation King Griffin mission in Guatemala City, Guatemala” and the list goes on.
When asked about the process of becoming a Colonel, patiently and proudly she explained: “One must serve six (6) years in rank, time and grade; holding the rank of a Lieutenant Colonel,“O-6”, before being considered for promotion to Colonel. This is across all Military Occupational Specialties (MOS). Only about 19% of army military intelligence officers make this rank. The O-6 rank is extremely competitive; and exclusively ‘The Best of the Best’ are considered for promotion to ‘Full Bird Colonel’.
Colonel Greene has a sense of exceptional accomplishment as she has far exceeded her goal of retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel. This quintessential promotion and rank are very rare… and she states: Especially for “Negro” Women”. She uses the word ‘Negro’ as her ‘silent protest’ because “African American women are not always black and black is a color”. “Moreover, after years of military experience my geo-political ideologies have changed and informed my perspective in real-time giving me a deeper understanding of how the world works. I have a richer outlook and broader aperture than I had 20 years ago. I will always thank my parents for instilling lifetime morals and values in me that are foundational to who I am today. Their love, guidance, and parental support have been essential in my ‘staying the course’. I have overcome many obstacles; but I continue to press on. I am too excited about reaching back and helping others to overcome their obstacles and meet life’s challenges head on.”
Colonel Greene is a ‘born again believer’ in the army for The Lord. She says, “My relationship with God is stronger; The Lord is my constant companion, I know that it is only by HIS Grace and Mercy that I have arrived where I am today.”
*** Blair Underwood is producing a musical about The 6888th. Look for it soon.
Colonel Green was in the Central Florida, Lake County area on Friday, March 17, 2023 for a YouTube interview to be aired within the coming days. Look for “Central Florida Salutes for Veterans” on your YouTube channel. Also of note Colonel Greene recorded a radio broadcast to be aired very soon on “Voice of Lake County”, WQBQ – 1410AM and 95.1 FM.