ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY, VA. — — Hundreds of mourners bid farewell Thursday to Maj. Gen. Harold J. Greene, the highest-ranking Army officer killed in combat since the Vietnam War.
General Greene, a former leader at Aberdeen Proving Ground who was shot to death last week in Afghanistan, was laid to rest during a somber ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.
His wife, retired Col. Sue Myers, and their son, Lt. Matthew J. Greene, saluted his flag-draped coffin as a howitzer fired a 13-gun salute.
The burial followed a private memorial service attended by 800 mourners, many in uniform, at Joint Base Myers-Henderson Hall.
Officials say General Greene was killed by an Afghan soldier as he visited Afghanistan's national military academy in Kabul. He was serving in Afghanistan as deputy commanding general of the combined security transition command, charged with helping to develop the Afghan National Security Forces.
It was his first combat assignment in a 34-year career.
"Words cannot express the sadness we feel at the senseless loss of Major General Harold J. Greene," said Army Secretary John McHugh. "Major General Greene was a soldier, a scholar and, above all, a trusted professional leader."
More than a dozen other NATO troops were wounded in the Aug. 5 attack at the Marshal Fahim National Defense University in the Afghan capital. They included several U.S. officers and a German brigadier general.
It was the latest in scores of so-called insider attacks in Afghanistan in recent years.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said it would not affect the U.S. drawdown from Afghanistan. President Barack Obama has ordered most U.S. troops out of the country by the end of the year and is waiting for the next Afghan president to act on an agreement governing the U.S. presence after Dec. 31.
Both of the finalists for president, currently awaiting results of a recount, have said they would sign the agreement.
"We will continue on the same course we are on for post-2014," Hagel told reporters last week in Germany.
General Greene, a native of Boston who grew up in New England and upstate New York, was 55. In addition to his wife and son, he leaves a daughter, Amelia; his father, also named Harold; and two brothers.
General Greene was buried with full military honors. Two escort platoons, accompanied by a riderless horse, led the caisson that carried his remains from the chapel to the cemetery. A rifle team from the 3rd Infantry Regiment fired three volleys, a bugler sounded taps, and the Army Band "Pershing's Own" played "America the Beautiful."
He was interred in a a section of the cemetery that contains the remains of other troops killed in Afghanistan or Iraq, along with veterans of earlier conflicts — the two world wars, Korea and Vietnam — who have died in recent years.
General Greene, an engineer, served in key acquisition roles at Aberdeen Proving Ground from 2009 to 2012, and remained a presence around the Army installation after moving on to the Pentagon and Afghanistan. He visited as recently as May, when he spoke to the Aberdeen Chapter of the Association of the U.S. Army.
Dale A. Ormond, director of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, where General Greene served from 2009 to 2011, described him last week as "a man of uncommon and exemplary professionalism, competence and candor, in the most profound way."
Stephen D. Kreider, the Army's program executive officer for intelligence, electronic warfare and sensors — a job General Greene held from 2011 to 2012 — called him "an inspirational leader" who "lived in dedication to family, friends, Army and nation."
"His legacy is the character, integrity and passion for life he displayed in all he did," he said, adding that General Greene was "a true American hero who was responsible for the safe return of many from war."
General Greene was commissioned in 1980 at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York. He held four master's degrees and a doctorate in materials science from the University of Southern California.
He lived in recent years at Aberdeen Proving Ground and at Fort Meade. He described his work in Kabul in a February note to thank the Aberdeen Chapter of the Association of the U.S. Army for sending him care packages.
"We are making noticeable progress in developing the [Afghan National Security Forces]," he wrote. "You should be especially proud of the people — service members, government civilians and contractors — dedicated to improving the ANSF. They are true patriots and remarkably capable."