A Guilderland native on Tuesday, Aug. 5, became the highest-ranking American military member to be killed in the Afghanistan war.
Maj. Gen. Harold Greene was killed when an apparent Afghan security force member opened fire on a group of coalition troops during a routine visit at a military academy in Kabul, Afghanistan, according to Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby. Fifteen other people were injured before the assailant was killed.
Greene, 52, was commissioned as an engineer after graduating from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1980 and rose to the rank of two-star general. He had lived in Virginia for the past 22 years with his wife and children, who are all members of the military, according to Rep. Paul Tonko’s Office.
Greene’s body arrived Thursday, Aug. 7, at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. He will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery sometime this week.
There reportedly were additional causalities, with several people seriously injured and others sustaining minor injuries, according to U.S. officials. An investigation into the incident is ongoing.
Albany County Executive Daniel McCoy on Wednesday, Aug. 6, directed flags on county buildings to be flown at half-staff for 30 days to honor Greene. Gov. Andrew Cuomo instructed flags on state buildings to be flown at half-staff on Thursday, Aug. 7.
McCoy said Greene would be remembered for the impact he had on others during his 34 years of service.
“On behalf of Albany County residents, I extend my deepest condolences to the family, friends and fellow soldiers of Major General Greene,” McCoy said in a prepared statement. “We are deeply grateful for his service to our nation and dedication to improving the lives of the troops in his command.”
Tonko, D-Amsterdam, also offered his condolences to Greene’s family and friends.
“He was a decorated soldier, a patriot and servant to our nation. His service and ultimate sacrifice will never be forgotten,” Tonko said in a prepared statement.
Greene earned several military awards including the Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal and Army Superior Unit Award. He also earned a doctorate in materials science from the University of Southern California and masters of strategic studies degree from the U.S. Army War College.
Tonko pointed to Greene’s death as a reason to withdraw troops from Afghanistan.
“Tragedies like this remind us that America’s longest war in history has gone on for too long. It is time that we responsibly bring our troops back home,” said Tonko.
Kirby, during a media conference Tuesday, was confident that Afghan security forces could take over military operations next year. He said there is “no indication” trust has been degraded between U.S. and Afghan forces. He added security procedures had been implemented to mitigate and minimize threats.