Veteran Otis Moore was hailed Saturday at the Hamptons Independent Retirement Community in Tyler for his contributions to this country’s freedom during World War II.
“I dove and hit the ground; the next burst went down my back,” Moore remembers, with one bullet lodging on his spinal cord, temporarily paralyzing him.
It was not until Saturday that he was awarded the Bronze Star for his meritorious service in the military.
“I didn’t think I would ever get a Bronze Star. It’s been too long since the war was over,” Moore, 88, said in an interview before Saturday’s ceremony.
U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Tyler, presented Moore the Bronze Star at the annual Veterans Day program at The Hamptons, an independent retirement community in Tyler.
Gohmert said it was a wonderful and happy occasion, saying he had resolved years ago that he did not want any family to ever say, “Where is the grateful nation?”
Approximately 150 people attended the patriotic ceremony of songs, posting of the colors by the Civil Air Patrol and the passing of Old Glory by representatives of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7211. East Texas Patriot Guard Riders added to the ambience of the occasion.
A ceremonial table was set in honor of military personnel missing in action and prisoners of war.
A bagpiper played “Amazing Grace” and there was the singing of the national anthem, the Armed Forces medley and “God Bless America.”
Everyone present who has ever served in the military, or who had a spouse that served, was recognized.
The medal was for meritorious achievement in armed combat in the Asiatic theater of operations, Gohmert said, praising Moore for courageous and selfless service.
Congress decided that all combat infantrymen from World War II could receive the Bronze Star for their service.
A local veteran’s advocate, Karl Little, learned during a conversation with Moore on a visit to the Hamptons that Moore had not been given the Bronze Star and started the process that led to Saturday’s Bronze Star presentation ceremony for Moore.
“I was happy to get the paperwork (done) in order to allow Mr. Moore to receive the well-deserved honor,” Little said.
He contacted Gohmert’s office, which assisted in arranging for the Bronze Star for Moore.
Moore was 19 when he was drafted into the Army in Corsicana on April 23, 1943. As a member of the 182nd infantry regiment of the Americal Division, Moore saw combat in the Solomon Islands and the Philippine Islands.
He had entered the army as a private first class, rose to the rank of staff sergeant and became a squad leader.
Several of his squad members were killed or wounded, Moore said. As for his own wounds, he said, “I knew it was a possibility when I went to war (to) either get shot up or come back all right or not come back.”
Still, Moore said he was glad that he served in the Army.
“You feel like you did a good service for your country that you love. I feel I’ve been able to contribute a little bit toward our freedom,” he said.
Moore said his best memories of his military service are the friendships he made with infantrymen from different states.
Although he did not receive the Bronze Star until Saturday, displayed in his living room are medals he received earlier: the Purple Heart, Asiatic Pacific Medal, Philippine Liberation Medal, Philippine Independence Medal, Combat Infantry Badge, divisional patch and staff sergeant stripes.
After the war, Moore attended meat cutter’s school in Lubbock and learned to be a butcher. He moved to Dallas, where he was a meat market manager for different grocery stores until 1972, when he moved to Palestine to be near friends.
Later he moved to Brownsboro for 33 years. He and his wife, Delores, have lived at the Hamptons in Tyler for the past three years.