by Larry Miller

October 10, 2016

Marine Sergeant Fae Moore has finally come home to Nebraska.

Fae V. Moore (1920-1943)

The Chadron area Marine was killed nearly 73 years ago in the amphibious assault on the Pacific atoll of Tarawa during World War II.  More than one thousand U.S. servicemen died in the bloody 76-hour battle for the strategic airfield on Betio Island.

In June of 2015, a private nonprofit organization called History Flight discovered a burial trench on Betio, and they notified the Department of Defense that they had discovered a burial pit on the island containing the remains of some 34 Marines and one Navy Hospital Corpsman.  

Those remains were then flown to Hawaii, where the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) began the process of trying to identify them.

Through dental and forensic testing, it was confirmed that one of them was Marine Sergeant Fae Moore.  His remains were flown from Hawaii to Rapid City in early October.   He was buried with full military honors on Thursday, October 6, 2016, next to his parents at the Beaver Valley cemetery near Chadron.

What follows is a glimpse of Fae Moore's short life, his honored service to his country, the sorrow of a grief-stricken mother and her family -- and the final belated return to his home in Beaver Valley.

The Early Years:  From Beaver Valley to the Marines

Fae Verlin Moore was born in Chadron, Nebraska on May 16, 1920, the youngest of 10 children born to Alonzo and Mary Moore.  There were six boys and four girls.  The family farmed and ranched in Beaver Valley east of Chadron during the 1920s before moving to a place on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in early 1931.

We've seen no single photograph of the entire Moore family.  This composite shows Mary and Alonzo Moore in the left picture with their daughters.  Left-to-right are: Helen, mother Mary, Hazel, father Alonzo, Ella, and Evelyn.  In the right photo are: Lonnie, Cliff, Glen, Sherd, Fae, and Morton.  The photo of the Moore sons was probably taken in the early 1930s, while the photo with the Moore daughters was likely captured in the early 1940s after Fae had enlisted in the Marine Corps.
Fae was my uncle, but he was hardly five years older than me,” remembers Mildred Moore Cooley of Slagle, Louisiana.

He was more like a brother.  He had a paint pony named “Prince,” and he could get on that horse and get it to do anything.  But if I or anyone else got on him, you couldn’t get him to move!

Fae had attended Beaver Valley School (District 69).  He completed the 8th Grade before leaving school to work and help the family during the “Dirty Thirties.”  Slight of stature, he was barely 5’ 6” and weighed just 134, but he knew how to work and took on some ranching jobs over the next several years.   One of those jobs was for H. M. Hotz of Rushville.   By the summer of 1941, according to his Marine application forms, Moore said he was making $17.50 every week.

Fae's old Dist. 69 school, now at a new location
Without much fanfare, and to the surprise of many, Fae Moore decided to join the U.S. Marine Corps in the summer of 1941. He was accepted for enlistment in Rapid City, subsequently traveling to Minneapolis for a physical examination and processing on August 18, 1941.   Three days later 21-year-old Private Fae Moore was in San Diego, California for basic training at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot.  He was assigned to the 1st Recruit Battalion and then the 3rd Recruit Battalion. 

After just a week in boot camp, he wrote to his sister Hazel Moore Moss in Nebraska that “the Marines are a lot tougher and stricter than the Army or Navy…I don’t get to leave this post for seven weeks and after that they may send me somewhere else.  This Marine Corps keeps their men on the move all the time.

Private Fae Moore
And by December 2nd 1941, Moore was, indeed, “on the move.”  He received orders to Company “E” (Easy Company), Second Battalion, Eighth Marines.

Five days later, on December 7, 1941, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, and the United States declared war on Japan the next day.

The Japanese had also assaulted and captured Wake Island, where 49 U.S. Marines were killed.  The Sunday after Pearl Harbor, Moore again wrote to Hazel. 

I guess everybody is worried, but I can’t understand why.  We aren’t…most of these boys have or had pals over on Wake Island, and they are crazy to go over and get even.” 

Next Page:  OFF TO WAR