Soldier gets belated World War II medals

Daily Inter Lake

by Eric Schwartz

Like many other 18-year-old Americans of his generation, Del Moore was drafted into the U.S. Army to help fight the Axis powers during World War II.

Unlike most, it took 64 years for Moore to be presented with the medals he earned in battles stretching from Europe to the Pacific from 1943 to 1946.

Moore, 85, was presented nine medals Saturday afternoon during a private ceremony at Democratic Sen. Jon Tester’s downtown Kalispell office Saturday afternoon.

A group of about eight people — including members of the media, Tester’s staff and Moore’s family — watched as Tester presented Moore with hardware earned more than six decades ago.

Moore credited Tester with pulling the proper bureaucratic strings after he wandered into the senator’s office several months ago to ask for assistance in his quest to determine what undelivered honors he deserved.

“It’s a long time coming,” Tester said. “I want to thank you for the service to this country and for all you did in this conflict.”

Moore, a Burley, Idaho, native who has lived in Kalispell for 32 years, sifted through the nine medals. Among them were the Bronze Star Medal, the Army Good Conduct Medal, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, the American Campaign Medal and the World War II Victory Medal.

Standing to observe the array of honors, Moore took interest in a combat infantry badge that was provided him along with the medals.

“See this,” he said. “You get this just for getting shot at.”

Moore can recall listening on the radio to reports of the Imperial Japanese Navy attacking Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. His cousin died aboard the USS Arizona.

“Most of the old-timers who had fought in World War I cried when they heard about it,” Moore said.

Moore’s own military journey began less than two years later when he turned 18. In October 1943 he received the not-so-surprising word that he had been drafted into the Army.

Moore said he would have been disappointed had he not passed the physical that acted as the only potential barrier to his service in the military.

“At that time everybody and their dog, if they were 18, they went in,” Moore said.

A year later, Moore was shipped to Europe along with a platoon of scouts in the aftermath of the Allied invasion of Normandy. His platoon snaked through Belgium, France and Germany and into Austria before the war came to an end.

He said he was among the first soldiers to be shipped from the European campaign to the Pacific where the final days of the war were playing out.

Moore returned to the United States in April 1946. He utilized the G.I. Bill to pursue an education and said he never really considered what medals might be owed to him for his service in the war.

“You don’t think about those things, it was about being home,” Moore said. “You just don’t think about it. It took me about 60 years.”

Moore doesn’t know why he never received the honors. They might have been lost in the mail, sent to the wrong address or simply forgotten altogether.

“We were just a bunch of kids who didn’t know no better,” Moore said of his time in the military.

Later, Moore said the medals mean a lot to him, especially now that he can fully comprehend their meaning and remember when they were earned.

“I think it means more now than it would have at the time,” Moore said.