A historic diver

Published 10:27 pm Friday, January 11, 2019

By Tonya S. Swindell

Sometimes history makers leave their mark quietly but strongly; such was the case with Mr. Julius Green Jr., the first black diving officer in the U.S. Army and the second African-American Master Diver for the U.S. military. With persistence, he endured challenges and persevered despite inconveniences. Mr. Green continues to impact others through his life, faith and influence.

After living in a small farming community in Allendale, S.C., Mr. Green entered the military in 1951. He served in the infantry for about five years before attending U.S. Army Diving School in Fort Eustis. As a salvage diver, he retrieved persons or items like trucks, cars and machinery on the surface or underwater.

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After 12 years as a sergeant first class, Mr. Green attended U.S. Army Marine Engineering Training School. He eventually achieved the rank of Warrant Officer III. One of his responsibilities was to repair and replenish vessels before sending them to strategic locations.

One memorable assignment occurred at a shipyard within my hometown in North Carolina between 1965 and 1966. Mr. Green and three white soldiers were not allowed to reside at a hotel because of Green’s race. Until completion of their 90 day assignment, the crew had to live in a four-bedroom trailer. Green also recalled being denied service at a restaurant during a recovery mission at Jamestown Ferry.

During his 22-year career, Green traveled to France, Germany and Antarctica. He served twice in Vietnam. He also went to Korea.

One rewarding mission occurred in Greenland when he located a 6-inch pipeline beneath large blocks of floating ice estimated to be about 18 inches thick. The mission continued at a Canadian Forces Base in the municipality of Happy Valley-Goose Bay, located in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

After the military, Mr. Green worked 23 years at the College of William & Mary until he retired as director of operations. Currently he is a Shriner, deacon and attender of a weekly breakfast club. Green is also a member of 100 Black Men of Virginia Peninsula Inc., which provides mentoring and scholarships.

Mr. Green stated, “God has been good to me.” When asked about his inspiration, he described values like faith, tenacity and hard work instilled by his parents. His wife, Rosalyn, son Calvin, daughter Vivian and comrades have undoubtedly added favorable dimensions to his life also.

While serving as president of the U.S. Army Diving Association, Mr. Green interacted with Carl Brashear, the first black Master Diver for the U.S. Navy. He has been longtime friends with Tuskegee Airman Ezra Hill. And recently, Mr. Green mentioned how inspiring it was to read about Bobby Rashad Jones, a young, African-American Navy midshipman who responded jubilantly after his commencement.

Mr. Julius Green Jr. pioneered quietly and impacted our world greatly. He continually shares his influence by helping others aspire to greatness. Green presents a historic legacy as Master Diver, an officer and a gentleman.


Tonya Swindell writes a blog for www.inspirenewlife.org and is a teacher for Kingdom Building Equipping School (KBES.com). She can be reached at 1brightot@gmail.com.