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Heroes among us

September 20th, 2016 · No Comments

Once in awhile the world reminds us that the person next to us is, simply, far more amazing than what we realized or understood.

Over the past decade or so, I had the opportunity to occasionally (probably not close to even once a year) chat with a man (semi-)prominent in the clean-energy organizational space.  Chairman of this and board member of that and founding member of many organizations, I respected him and valued the few chances I had to have a conversation longer than a quick shake of the hand as he was calmly thoughtful and insightful.

Those conversations will not continue as the front page of the Metro section tag line of an obituary of a ‘dedicated Marine who became a renewable energy advocate‘ caught my eye.

Bill Holmberg joined the Marines, at age 15, during World War II and made it through basic training before they realized he was still a kid.  Kicked out, he ended up making his way to the Naval Academy and

The next year, he was leading a rifle platoon during the Korean War when he embarked on a mission deep in enemy-held territory for which he was awarded a Navy Cross…

Col. Holmberg, then a second lieutenant, engaged “in a fierce hand-to-hand battle while under an intense concentration of hostile mortar, machine-gun and small-arms fire,” the citation accompanying the medal read. “Although severely wounded during the engagement, he refused to be evacuated and, while receiving first aid, continued to issue orders and to direct the offensive operations of his unit.”

Bill served a full career and retired … and then dedicated himself to serving the nation in another way: working to advance understanding and otherwise promote renewable energy.

After his military retirement in 1970, Col. Holmberg joined the Environmental Protection Agency. He had grown up in Washington state amid vegetable fields and fruit orchards and felt a renewed sensitivity to protect the planet after seeing the waste and devastation of war

Tom Daschle praised him as not just “a war hero but an indefatigable champion of the environment.”

In the past decade (and in recent) years, we have had much discussion of training soldiers leaving military service to be solar installers and of groups of veterans working to enhance understanding of the need for better energy policies and practices to secure America’s future.  Bill Holmberg is (was) a stellar example that this generation of soldiers is not the first who have taken off the uniform to continue the fight to protect their nation through the promote of more rational energy policies.

Dan Reicher summed it up well

We will miss [Bill’s] quiet wisdom, great resolve – and the twinkle in his eye

My that ‘quiet wisdom and great resolve’ stand as a strong example to the legions of Marines (and airman, sailors and soldiers) who are following in his footsteps in the fight to create a prosperous, climate-friendly future for the United States of America.




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Tags: Energy