On Tuesday, Jan. 28, the Highland City Council voted to honor late Highland resident and Tuskegee airman Col. Paul Green on the city of Fontana’s new Miller Park Amphitheater Veterans Memorial.
The city of Fontana invited Highland and several other neighboring cities to honor one of its veterans with a commemorative brick to be installed at the new memorial.
Highland staff recommended Daniel Yarnell, whom the city of Highland’s Vietnam veterans memorial is named after, but Mayor Larry McCallon nominated Green. The remainder of the council heartedly agreed with McCallon’s suggestion and voted unanimously that Green would represent Highland’s veterans on the memorial.
Green was a veteran of World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.
He began as a fighter pilot, one of the famed Tuskegee Airmen of the 99th Fighter Squadron serving in Europe during WWII. The Tuskegee Airmen were America’s first African American fighter squadron. They were also the most successful bomber-escort group of the war.
Green flew 25 missions during WWII and was a combat airlift pilot during the Korean War.
Throughout his career Green logged over 5,000 flying hours, including time in the P-40 Warhawk, P-47 Thunderbolt, P-51 Mustang (his favorite), C-47 Skytrain, C-54 Skymaster, B-29 Superfortress, C-130 Hercules, B-25 Mitchell and the C-141 Starlifter.
Green ended his 33-year Air Force career as base commander of Norton Air Force Base. After his retirement he and his wife Angel remained in Highland where they were deeply involved in the community.
Aside from serving on the boards of Arrowhead United Way, the YMCA, San Bernardino Tournament of Roses Assoc., Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Selection Committee, National Orange Show, Downtown Rotary Club and the Special Events Corporation for the 1988 and 1980 Miss Teen USA Pageant, Green often served as a speaker, using his story of growing up as an orphan in the Depression to become an U.S. Air Force base commander to inspire his community and its youth.
He used his life as an example that, in America, everyone has the opportunity and the personal responsibility to make their life what they want it to be.
McCallon referenced these speeches while explaining his admiration of Green.
“When he came to Kiwanis to give a presentation, he said, ‘I don’t want to be a hyphenated American. Don’t call me an ‘African-American.’ He’s just a great patriot and a great individual.”
Green died on Feb. 24, 2015, in Highland.
The city of Fontana plans to unveil the new memorial on Saturday, April 18, at Miller Park, 17004 Arrow Blvd., Fontana.