William Green, a Vietnam veteran determined to live independently and participate fully in life despite being a paraplegic, died Thursday of cancer at his Rosedale home. He was 54.
An Army scout during the Vietnam War, Mr. Green was injured in a 1966 helicopter crash at Dongson, which left him a paraplegic.
After initial treatment in Japan, he was sent to Maguire Veterans Hospital in Richmond, Va., for rehabilitation.
Robert Flowers, an ex-Marine who had been wounded in Vietnam and also a paraplegic, told of meeting and befriending Mr. Green.
"An old Army nurse told me to go talk to the new guy who was also from Baltimore and get him to go to the mess hall.
"He didn't want to do it and planned to keep on having his meal tray delivered to his room, but I made him go, and boy, was he mad," said Mr. Flowers, who grew up in Edmondson Village and is now a resident of Phoenix, Ariz.
"He thanked me finally for making him do it, but it was some weeks afterward," said Mr. Flowers with a laugh.
After recuperating at the hospital, the pair later shared an apartment at Sutton Place in Baltimore.
"We lived together for five years and it was a tough time for us trying to find our way again but we drank a little beer, watched football and did a lot of talking," said Mr. Flowers.
"The Lord and Bill finally came to terms with everything," Mr. Flowers said.
"He was my best friend for 29 years and never did a wrong thing to anyone. I wouldn't have come 2,200 miles if he wasn't my buddy."
In 1980, Mr. Green bought a handicapped-equipped home on Corkley Avenue in Rosedale.
"Bill was a strong-willed individual who did his own laundry and cooking, made repairs to his home, took care of the lawn and cleaned his swimming pool from his wheelchair," said a sister, Dolly Green Orth, of Williamsport, Pa.
Pat Oswald, a next-door neighbor, said, "He was a very congenial man who would do anything for you. He always wanted people to come by for a visit and have a good time."
Betty Burns, another Corkley Avenue neighbor, said, "I admired him a great deal.
"I lost my husband a year ago and he was always calling to see if I needed something or needed any help," Mrs. Burns said. "Sometimes he'd call me just to chat to lift my spirits. He was really a kind man."
Mr. Green grew up on East 26th Street, one of 11 children, delivering newspapers, mowing lawns and playing baseball. After graduating from high school, he joined the Army in 1959. He served with a light infantry unit in Korea and Germany before being discharged in 1963.
"He re-enlisted in the Army in 1965 and was sent to Vietnam but he looked on it as his patriotic duty. I think he probably would have pursued a military career had he not been wounded," Mrs. Orth said.
He was discharged in 1966 with the rank of specialist fourth class and was awarded the Purple Heart, Vietnam Service Ribbon, the National Defense Service Ribbon and the Good Conduct Medal. He was also a member of the Disabled American Veterans.
"To all who knew him, Bill overcame his disability and became a center of strength for his entire family and his many friends," said a brother, Dennis L. "Sam" Green of Sewell, N.J.
Services for Mr. Green are set for 9:30 a.m. today at Cvach-Rosedale Funeral Home, 1211 Chesaco Ave. in Rosedale.
He is survived by four other brothers, Charles R. Green Jr., Thomas Green, Ernest Green, all of Baltimore, and Paul L. Green of Dalton, Pa.; four other sisters, Dolores C. Green, Charlotte M. Green, both of Baltimore, Joanne M. Green of Burlington, N.C., and Ruth Cochran of Norman, Okla.; and many nephews and nieces.