CHIPLEY - At first glance, one may assume Roy Green is homeless. But if you ask the 68-year-old U.S. Army veteran, he will tell you he is simply a free man.
Green, who recently caught the attention of local residents after a social media post told the story of him driving from Chipley to Nashville, Tennessee on his Husqvarna riding lawn mower, says he chose to live his nomadic lifestyle.
This isn’t the first time Green has made the trip to visit his two brothers who live in the area, but he thought this would be the last.
"I was thinking of moving up there, but when I lay on the ground, my fingers were frozen, and I realized it wasn't even really cold yet. I decided to come back to Florida," he said.
It took Green a little over three weeks to drive from Nashville back to Chipley, sticking to the "back roads" and meeting new people along the way.
While operating lawn mowers on public roadways is prohibited in most areas on Green's route, he was able to make the trip with few admonishments from law enforcement.
Green hasn't always been a rambling man, having returned from his service in Vietnam as a combat engineer with the 87th Engineer Battalion when he was 21, young and struggling with personal demons.
"I felt guilty about coming back because a lot of people didn't," said Green "I got in a little trouble fighting, and looking back, I was trying to get myself killed. I finally outgrew that, but it really bothered me that I came back and others didn't."
He would spend the next few decades working on constructions sites and as a CDL driver before moving to Bradenton, Florida to take care of his sister until she passed away about five years ago.
"When [my sister] died, my world blew up," he said. "I decided then to take to the road."
It was on the road where Green found his peace, eventually making his way on a bicycle to Chipley, where he was befriended by local business owner Regina Wolfgang. With the help of Lane's Outdoor Equipment, Inc. and a generous donation from Anita Pippin Clark of Chipley, Wolfgang was able to help Green acquire a used riding lawn mower.
"Angel from Angel's Buffet also donated Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners for him," said Wolfgang. "The community really stepped in and welcomed him. When he showed up at my door again, I laughed and told him he must have gotten some Washington County sand in his shoes because now he's hooked. He gives living a whole new meaning."
Green, who draws a pension, does have a cell phone. He says that's the extent of the modern conveniences he carries, and that he wouldn't change a thing - with one exception.
"I wouldn't mind getting a boat," he said with a twinkle in his eye. "Then, I'd be a river rat."
Green also says he likes the solitude of his travels and doesn't get lonely.
"I like me, and it feels good to not be weighed down by material things," he said. "When I get to a service station, I top off in gas, get a cup of coffee, and whoever wants to talk, I talk. You meet good people when you're traveling, and if there's one thing I've learned on my journeys, it that people - no matter what we've seen and heard lately - people are mostly good."