Harvey K. Greenlaw 1920

1920 Class Crest

Cullum No. 6788 • Jan 10, 1982 • Died in Compostela Nayarit, Mexico

Interred in Churchyard, Compestela, Mexico

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Harvey was born in Wisconsin on the 14th of November 1897. He was appointed to the United States Military Academy from Wisconsin. As a “turnback” to our Class, he was helpful in our relations with 1919. He was a popular, cheerful and active cadet for our two years, leading the bugle corps, a member of the cadet orchestra and adding much to the entertainment programs of cadet camp and Hundredth Night. He excelled in basketball and on the undefeated hockey team.

His traits of friendliness, sociability and generosity, displayed as a cadet, continued in his later service, as exemplified in an incident related by Colonel Harold T. Turnbull of our Class, as follows: “In 1934 I was lucky enough to be a guest aboard a submarine, leaving Manila for ports-of-call near Saigon and the China coast. Harvey heard of a visiting American submarine and came aboard. We were both surprised to meet thus in a faraway Chinese port. True to his gracious nature, he took me to see the points of interest. We visited his barracks, had dinner and wound up in a swank nightclub.”
Harvey managed to graduate high enough in the Class to rate Cavalry. In 1925, he qualified for transfer to the Air Service as a pursuit pilot. As a flight instructor, he trained many young pilots in fighter operations. While stationed at Chanute Field, he became friendly with Major Claire Chenault, an older World War I fighter plane pilot. In 1931, he resigned from the Army Air Service, and for two years took a position with the North American Aviation Company. About this time he married Olga Sewers in California. In 1933 they traveled to China as members of the Jouett Mission to the Nationalist Chinese Government headed by Chang-Kai-Shek. They remained in China until 1936, assembling and testing planes delivered from American plane manufacturers. Harvey then returned to the United States and was active in design, production and sales of planes.
Harvey and Olga returned to China in 1938 where, at Henyant, Harvey instructed Chinese student pilots and assisted South China in opposing the Japanese invasion by testing new and repaired aircraft and organizing defensive techniques. Olga was Chenault’s secretary. In 1939 the United States stopped shipment of planes through East China ports, and so Harvey and Olga went to Hanoi, Hong Kong, Chunking, Bangkok, Singapore, Rangoon and then to Java for a time of recuperation. On 25 August 1941 they flew back to Chungking where Harvey served for a year as Colonel Chenault’s Chief of Staff of the American Vounteer Group (Tigers).
This was a year of aggression by Japanese forces on land, sea and air. In June 1942 the American Volunteer Group (Flying Tigers) was absorbed by the United States Air Corps as the 23d Pursuit Group and the 14th and 10th Air Forces. Actually, only fifteen ground crew and five pilots accepted transfer from the Flying Tigers, while eighty refused induction and returned to the United States through Bombay. Harvey and Olga returned to the United States as the year 1941-42 had taken its toll and induction meant remaining in China. General Chenault remained in China with Chang-Kai-Shek until the end of the war in 1945. Nationalist China awarded him their highest decorations and he returned later to organize “CAT” airlines. Harvey then continued in aircraft production with Grumman Aircraft. He then went into the moving picture industry until 1950.
Then the old wonderlust took hold and he went to Baja, California, and around Mexico in prospecting for gold. He went broke in this actiivty and moved to Compestela for the rest of his life. Olga had left him in 1945 and they were divorced. In 1945 Harvey testified before a Truman investigation. The resulting political implications left him with such bitter feelings that he never wanted to return to the United States and had no further military connections. In 1960 Harvey became disabled as a result of the dengue fever of the Orient and lived on a small Veterans Administration pension and an Aid and Assistance grant.
Harvey was happy to live and die in Compestela, Mexico, where he made many friends who remember him with affection and respect.
—JLG, Classmate
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