‘Bad little dude’ remembered with WWII mementos on display|[5/30/05]

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 31, 2005

First Sgt. William Moore never made it home from the Pacific theater of operations in World War II and he’s one of the thousands of American servicemen who are being honored today on Memorial Day.

Moore is the uncle of Vicksburg resident James Jones, himself a veteran of another war, Vietnam.

“He was a bad little dude,” Jones said, adding that he is the only one of his generation who ever met Moore.

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Moore was born in Sallis on Oct. 24, 1918, Jones said. He and his family later moved a few miles to the east, near Kosciusko.

Just before World War II broke out, Moore moved to Pascagoula where he lived with his sister and brother-in-law, Raymond and Lula Mae Jones. Jones’s father was a welder at a shipyard and Moore did construction work.

With war looming, Moore took a bold move in August, 1941 and enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in New Orleans.

“He was a regular Marine,” Jones said of his uncle.

Although Jones does not know when Moore went to the Pacific, he knew he was in a heavy weapons company, machine guns and mortars.

While in the Pacific, Moore served on Guadalcanal, Bougainville and Iwo Jima.

“He was less than 6-foot-tall,” Jones said. “From what I understand, to go from corporal on up to gunnery sergeant (which Moore was) on Bougainville, you had to be awful good or awful mean. I don’t think the young man was so called good, he was just a bad little dude. He loved to fight.”

Bad actor or not, Moore apparently turned that love of fighting to battling the Japanese. In addition to the medals a serviceman would receive for participating in campaigns, he also wore medals showing he had done something. Those decorations included the Bronze Star with a “V” for valor, a Silver Star and a Presidential Unit Citation with a star.

Jones said Moore earned the Bronze Star for action on Bougainville where his unit repelled a Japanese attack, suffering a 50 percent casualty rate in the process.

He received the Silver Star for action on Iwo Jima.

“Most of these came from cigar box under my grandmother’s bed,” Jones said pointing to the decorations he has placed in a shadow box, along with Moore’s marksmanship badges, the first sergeants stripes he would have worn and the American Defense Medal, American Campaign Medal, the Asian Pacific Medal and the World War II Victory Medal.

Pointing to a medal in the lower right corner of the box, Jones said the Purple Heart was the last one his uncle received.

“That one’s a replacement,” he said.

Presumably, the original was buried with the Marine when he was interred at the National Cemetery of the Pacific, also known as the Punchbowl, in Hawaii. The explanation is on an old Purple Heart citation Jones said he found behind a photo of Moore. It said the wounds for which Moore received the decoration were also the ones that caused his death on Iwo Jima.

In addition to being the only of his generation to have actually met Moore, Jones said he is the only person in his family to have seen the grave in the Punchbowl.

“He’s buried between two Navy nurses,” Jones said.

The shadow box can be seen at the Vicksburg Battlefield Museum where it is on loan from Jones.