Off to War 

On January 6, 1942, Fae Moore and his unit joined the 2nd Marine Brigade as they departed San Diego aboard three converted troop ships of the Matson Line – the Matsonia, the Monterey, and the Lurline.  In all, saome 5,000 men were on their way to Tutuila, the largest of the Samoan Islands.  While they were en route, news came that a Japanese submarine had shelled the Naval Station at Pago Pago, the largest city in American Samoa.  The Marines arrived January 20.

These "E" company Marines became close friends in the Pacific.
(L-to-R):  Bill Ward, Pete Savrentier, Clyde Britt and Fae Moore
The 2nd Brigade was in Samoa to keep open the sea lanes and communications from the United States to New Zealand and Australia.  But there was another reason, too. Tutuila, the major island in the Samoan Archipelago, was destined to become the largest jungle training center in the South Pacific, and members of the 2nd Brigade were the trainees!

As fate would have it, the Japanese January 6 attack on Pago Pago resulted in just one shell striking a home and business – reportedly owned by one of the few Japanese residents on the island!  With the island inundated with U.S. Marines, that would be the only time Samoa was “attacked” during the war.

In April 1942, Fae Moore was promoted to Private First Class, PFC. 

The small increase in pay was surely welcome.  Shortly after he had enlisted, Fae had taken out an allotment from his monthly pay and had it sent home to help his folks, who were struggling a bit in keeping their farm and ranch operation going on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.  Finally, however, with their children grown and gone from home, Alonzo and Mary Moore sold their place in South Dakota and moved to a small house in Chadron.

If his parents were undergoing a change in their lives, Fae was about to have his own life-altering experience.

After about 10 months of defending the Samoan Islands and conducting jungle warfare exercises, “Easy” Company boarded the USS Barnett and on October 23, 1942 sailed northwest to the island of Efate in the New Hebrides, arriving on October 30.  The next day, they were at sea again, steaming toward the southwest and the Solomon Islands.  Their task was to reinforce the 1st Marine Division, bogged down on Guadalcanal in the first major offensive in the Pacific.

It was Fae Moore’s first taste of combat, and it ended up as one of the fiercest battles in the Pacific.  After more than three more months of intensive fighting and heavy casualties on both sides, the Japanese withdrew – but only after losing some 20,000 men.  U.S. dead numbered about 2,000.

Very Good,” wrote “E” Company Commander Captain William Fleuty, Jr. in Moore’s service record.  The handwritten notation was Fleuty’s assessment of Moore’s combat performance against the Japanese on Guadalcanal.

His unit left Guadalcanal February 9, 1943, aboard the USS American Legion steaming toward New Zealand, where they would disembark for a bit of rest and relaxation at Wellington.

On March 7, Fae wrote his sister Hazel again, apologizing for waiting so long to write, but explaining “I would have written sooner only I lost your address while I was on Guadalcanal.”  He added that he would soon send some pictures, that “I am in a place where I can get some taken; this is a pretty nice place,” he wrote of New Zealand.

The nearly eight months in New Zealand for the Second Marine Division were designed to further prepare for an all-out assault on the Gilbert Islands.  Of course, that information wouldn’t be revealed to the troops until the final hours before the attack.

PFC Moore was promoted to Corporal on July 20, 1942.  Then, on August 17, less than a month after his promotion, he was again promoted.  Fae Moore became a Sergeant after having served just under two years in the Corps. 

His evaluations had always been high.  Completing boot camp in 1941, his scores were all in the range of “Very Good” to “Excellent.  Categories measured were Military Efficiency, Military Bearing, Intelligence, Obedience, and Sobriety.   After he was promoted to PFC, all of his evaluations were recorded as “Excellent.” 

In September, Sergeant Moore and his outfit embarked aboard the USS Ormsby to conduct five days of landing exercise in the Wellington area.

Easy Company and the entire 2nd Marine Brigade was kept busy during their duty in New Zealand.  Still, Moore was able to take liberty in Wellington, and that’s likely where he befriended a young lady named Jill Hudson.  Few details exist about their relationship, but they became engaged to be married.  Little is known about Jill, but this photograph, believed sent by Jill Hudson to Fae's mother in Nebraska, shows Fae and his buddies posing on a front porch.  No names are on the back, but the Marines appear to be the same close-knit group of buddies.  Left-to-right:  Pete Savrentier (holding baby), Fae Moore, Bill Ward, and Clyde Britt.  And that would be Jill Hudson next to Fae in the center.  

In Fae’s final letter to his sister Hazel, he acknowledged that he had received a letter and photograph from their mom and dad, and he commented about the photo.

You may not be able to notice it, being around them once in a while, but they look quite a bit older to me.  Of course I haven’t seen them in over two years and would notice it more.  Well, I am about out of room, so will close.  Your loving Bro.  Fae.
Three weeks later, on October 13, Sergeant Moore and his unit were again aboard ship – this time the USS Heywood – supposedly for a week of “Landing Operations” in the “New Zealand area.”  However, there is no indication that the Marines disembarked from the Heywood following those exercises.  The next official entries in Moore’s service jacket noted:

13 Oct 43 emb aboard USS Heywood at Wellington, N. Z. and sailed 1 Nov 1943.”

20 Nov 43 arr and disemb at Betio, Tarawa Atoll, Gilbert Islands.” 

The entry was signed by his commanding officer, Major H. P. Crowe, USMC.