When I was in the Army, 9-11 had just recently happened. I got out after a few years and right after, I still worked with the soldiers on post. I knew a lot of the MP’s when I first got hired on to the civilian police department on post and got to even more as I worked with different units that would rotate through road duty. This had both a good and bad side to it.
Soldiers change duty stations, usually every 2-3 years, and when the Army didn’t have the stop-loss in effect there were those that got out of the service. A lot of times this would happen and I wouldn’t hear about it until months later, from someone else once their unit had rotated back onto the road.
There was one MP that I worked with for a while by the name of Gary Moore. We worked a couple of gates together back in 2007. My Colorado Rockies had made it to the World Series and I remember listening to the game with him while standing the most boring and pointless gate in the history of Ft Bliss.
Gary liked to talk…or maybe he just talked because he and I got along and our weird senses of humor meshed well…but I think he just talked. Some found him a little annoying but to me he was a bright, cheerful breath of fresh air in the dry and bitter desert. I liked working with him, and when I’d see him around the company area we’d always chat for a little while. We’d talk movies (he kept telling me I needed to see the Steve Martin version of The Pink Panther), music, life in general. He and I were both engaged at the time, and we spoke of my plans to move to England and his to get married after his upcoming deployment.
It was the third deployment as a company from our battalion over to Iraq that he went on. I saw him there in the parking lot one day soon before he shipped out, and we talked for a bit, leaving with the implied agreement that we’d talk again when he came back from deployment.
Our battalion had been lucky so far with the combat deployments, and we hadn’t lost anyone. We had injuries and wounds. My old squad leader lost his leg from an IED and several had shrapnel removed from various body parts.
But luck like that doesn’t last.
We heard that one of our MP’s was killed. Going through Baghdad, one of our convoys was hit by an IED. Whenever there’s a death, they always wait to notify the family first before the name is released, and it was a little while before we knew who it was. One day we had a Memorial Ceremony, and since all the MP’s in the battalion were attending, our civilian force had to cover down and work extra shifts to make up for the loss in manpower.
I was turning in my paperwork at the end of shift when I heard that they’d had the Memorial. I asked my supervisor who it was. Someone I knew?
“Specialist Moore I think? Gary…?”
It hit me hard. I walked out without a word and couldn’t stop my tears for days. I hadn’t known him long, just a few months, but in that line of work when you get along with someone so well a strong friendship can be formed quickly.
They had a nice little article in the paper about Gary, a few photos from his Memorial, State Troopers even came by to give him that final salute. A close friend asked how I was doing. “I heard from Tellez that you took the news pretty hard.” I searched for answers but couldn’t find any that satisfied the feeling of loss that comes with a death of someone so young.
I went out and bought The Pink Panther. A tribute to him, since it was one he had quoted often. Even though it is a comedy, it’s very bittersweet for me to watch since I can’t watch it without memories flooding my mind of working with him.
Today is Veteran’s Day. A time to remember and honor those who served our nation, those who stayed in but a few years and those who retired, those who lived long lives. And those like Gary, who never made it home, never got to fulfill their dreams. To my Brothers and Sisters, who are either still in boots or those of us who have hung up the uniform for the last time already, thank you. Your sacrifices are appreciated, loved, and never ever forgotten.
In loving memory of SPC Gary Moore (25) of Del City, OK. KIA 16 March 2009.