A special post on US Memorial Day.
Look up James Holt Green in Wikipedia and you won't find his name. And you should.
James Holt green was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on October 8th 1909. When World War II broke out he was working in a textile factory that manufactured uniforms for the Army. Soon enough, he wanted to be like his 2 other brothers, and joined the Navy.
After spending some time in Europe, he was assigned to a desk job, but asked to go back to the field. By then he was already in the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), which one day would become the CIA.
Green was sent on a mission to Slovakia in order to rescue downed American airmen and provide assistance to the Slovakian Uprising. The mission was named 'Dawes Mission' and was to take place in Central Slovakia where the resistance movement was trying to fight the Nazis.
Upon their arrival in the City of Banska Bistrica, Slovakia, they met British soldiers who were already in the area. Among them were several Jewish Parachuters who came from Israel-Palestine (under British Mandate). One of the parachuters was Haviva Reik. She grew up in the area, spoke Slovak and soon began to cooperate with Green and his crew. The OSS group also teamed with one of the Jewish Parachuters, Aba Berdichev, and began organizing the Slovak partisans.
During October 1944, the Jewish Parachuters and the OSS team managed to rescue 30 airmen that were downed in their area. 28 of them were Americans, mostly pilots and navigators. They were much needed to the war efforts.
Green and his team continued to send valuable reports to the Allies on the strength of enemy forces, resistance activities, results of Allied bombing, and designation of future bombing objectives.
When the Nazis decided to crush the rebellion, they began moving toward the Slovak capital. All foreigners were in danger and were asked to board the last Allied planes that were leaving the Area. The OSS men as well as the Jewish Parachuters, refused. They knew damn well what awaited them if they were captured. And they decided to stay anyway.
After several weeks of hiding in the freezing Slovak mountains, the Americans, commanded by Lt. James Holt Green found a lodge where they could keep warm. In December 1944, 300 Nazi soldiers from an anti-partisan unit surrounded the lodge and captured the Americans. Some of the OSS men and a local translator who went searching for food, managed to escape.
The group was taken to the Mauthausen Concentration Camp in Austria where they became POWs. They were interrogated for weeks, and sadistically tortured. The camp commander enjoyed participating and watching the tortures first hand.
After a month in captivity, by the end of January 1945 the OSS group, among them Lt. James Holt Green and Aba Berdichev, one of the Jewish Parachuters, were murdered and burnt.
One of the Jewish female Parachuters, Hanna Shenesh (Szenes) wrote a short poem before her death:
so young to die.
No, no, not I,
I love the warm sunny skies,
light, song, shining eyes,
I want no war, no battle cry,
No, no, not I.”
Lieutenant James Holt Green, had a chance of rescuing himself and his men but chose to continue fighting, for a better and safer world. He was 33 years old when the Nazis ended his life. His spirit lives on.
Lest we forget.