by Vito J. Leo
Many men sacrificed their lives when the country was locked in combat in Vietnam. Of those thousands of valiant Vietnam victims, only one came from the Taftville section of Norwich, namely, James L. Greene Jr., affectionately known as “Jimmy.”
Now, some four decades after the close of that tumultuous chapter in U.S. history, young Jimmy is being honored by members of the Taftville VFW, who named the club’s dinning hall after their native son.
“They did a great job with this,” said Jimmy’s brother, Randy Greene, a few days after attending a touching dedication ceremony at the club in late September.
“It was a great feeling,” said the Norwich resident, referring to the first time he saw the super sized photo of his brother showcased on an easel, the focus of the large room. “I’m very proud of Jimmy; he deserved this.” He said his parents, James Sr. and Rita DeRosier, both deceased, would also be proud to see their son remembered by folks in their hometown.
In addition to the larger-than-life portrait of Jimmy, members of the Frederick J. Sullivan Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2212 also commissioned a plaque with the fallen Marine’s name on it.
“The way they set it all up, it looks real nice. I’m glad they decided to do this for Jimmy,” said Jimmy’s boyhood friend and fellow Marine, Rich Rushford, Post Adjutant. Rich is one of the 81 active members of the Taftville post which also features vibrant auxiliaries for both men and women.
The auxiliaries often hold dinners in the club’s events hall – now the “Greene Room.” The room is a good draw for weddings and birthdays, according to Dennis Baptiste, the post’s senior vice commander who coordinated the eight-month effort to name the hall for Jimmy.
“Everybody’s kind of giving me credit for this [idea] but I think it was a bunch of us, sitting around one night, when we came up with it,” Dennis said.
He said one idea tossed out that night was to rename the club in honor of Jimmy since no one seemed to know who Frederick J. Sullivan was.
“But then we researched who he was and found out that Frederick was a World War I veteran who died in 1928. We decided it wouldn’t be a good idea to change the name of the club,” Dennis said. “So then we decided to name the hall after Jimmy,” he said.