On the Home Front
|Mary and Alonzo Moore. Early 1940s|
But Fae Moore's family was aware that their Marine son was in harms way. For several days, the Associated Press, United Press, and other news services had been feeding information to radio stations and newspapers across the country, including those in Nebraska, about massive U.S. air strikes in the Pacific.
Although there was no news yet of any invasion at Tarawa, the November 19th Nebraska State Journal headlined a story with "Liberators hit Jap bases in Gilbert and Marshall Islands," and reported on the low altitude bombing and strafing attack at Tarawa, where there was "no enemy interception" and "weak antiaircraft fire from adjacent Betio Island."
Of course, the Moore family had no way of knowing exactly where in the Pacific Theatre their son was serving. Little could they have known that those air strikes on Tarawa were a prelude for their son and two full divisions of U.S. Marines to become engaged in one of the fiercest battles of the Pacific war.
Thanksgiving came and went. Then, on December 23, 1943 – two days before Christmas – a telegram was dispatched to Mary Moore at 229 Ann Street in Chadron.
“DEEPLY REGRET TO INFORM YOU THAT YOUR SON CORPORAL FAE V MOORE USMC WAS KILLED IN ACTION IN THE PERFORMANCE OF HIS DUTY AND IN THE SERVICE OF HIS COUNTRY. TO PREVENT POSSIBLE AID TO OUR ENEMIES PLEASE DO NOT DIVULGE THE NAME OF HIS SHIP OR STATION. PRESENT SITUATION NECESSITATES INTERMENT TEMPORARILY IN THE LOCALITY WHERE DEATH OCCURRED AND YOU WILL BE NOTIFIED ACCORDINGLY. PLEASE ACCEPT MY HEARTFELT SYMPATHY. LETTER FOLLOWS.
LIEUT GENERAL - USMC
THE COMMANDANT U S MARINE CORPS
It’s unlikely that the Moore family had any idea of Fae’s “ship or station.” Mary Moore sent a return telegram that same day to General Holcomb:
SEND MY SONS BODY BACK TO US IF POSSBLE.
MRS. MARY M MOORE
Then came the harsh task of notifying Fae’s brothers and sisters of his death. One surviving Western Union Telegram from the Moores went to their daughter, Hazel Moss in Harrisburg, Nebraska at 5:50 p.m. that same day.:
JUST RECEIVED WORD FAE WAS KILLED IN ACTION. MOTHER AND DAD.
|Betio Island near the end of World War II|
There was still hope that the remains of her youngest son would soon come home for burial. But if there was any comfort in that prospect, it was soon dashed by more tragedy.
Mary Moore’s 17-year-old grandson, Raymond Moore, had come off the ranch in Beaver Valley to go to school in Chadron and was living with his grandparents. His presence may have helped fill the void created by Fae’s death. But on May 24, 1944, Raymond drowned while trying to retrieve a fishing pole in the city dam south of Chadron. Five months later, Mary’s 74-year-old husband Alonzo died. Grief seemed to be around every corner.
In New Zealand, Fae’s fiancee’, Jill Hudson, penned the following March 23rd letter from her Herd Street home in Wellington to the Paymaster at U.S.M.C. Headquarters in Washington D. C.
“The report of the death in action of Sgt. F.V. Moore, Co. E, 2nd Btn. 8th Marines, having been published in the Press, I am writing to ask if you would forward to me his home address, which although I was engaged to him, I did not obtain while he was in New Zealand as at that time it was not permissible to send mail to relatives of Marines. If this is not possible, could you please forward my address…to his parents, who would then communicate with me. Thanking you, I remain, Yours Sincerely, Miss Jill Hudson.”
Her letter was received in the Paymaster’s Office on April 23rd. Five days later they sent a letter to Miss Hudson with Mrs. Moore’s Ann Street address in Chadron. Both letters were placed in Sergeant Moore’s service record, but no correspondence between the Moore family and Miss Hudson has been discovered.
In October 1944, the USMC Effects Bureau in Clearfield, Utah, which had been conducting an inventory of Fae Moore’s effects, shipped them to his mother in Nebraska. The items included:
1 SCARF, field 2 ½ SOCKS, pr.
2 SWEATERS 1 SWEATSHIRT
1 TRUNKS, swim WAR STAMPS, $2.00
1 SOUVENIR 1 DIARY
2 BOOKS, religious 1 CERTIFICATE, equator
1 BAG, laundry 1 KIT, sewing
1 KNIFE, hunting 1 KNIFE, scabbard
1 PHOTOGRAPHS, personal, pkg. 1 RING
6 TOWELS 3 COINS, foreign
18 STAMPS, 1-cent
While Sergeant Moore’s “personal effects” were returned home – his remains were not. The challenges of recovering, identifying, and repatriating the remains of U.S. military personnel continued to be a huge task.
Next Page: THE LOST GRAVES OF TARAWA