Deborah Moore is the eldest of four daughters whose father was a B-29 Commander during World War II flying thirteen missions over Japan. While attending San Francisco State University, anti-war protests were a part of the landscape. Still, she felt a duty to serve our country because her father’s generation had served, and it was now her generation’s time. Moore was recruited for Army Special Services and flew to Saigon a few weeks later with no preliminary training. Her role was to operate recreation-focused Service Clubs for enlisted soldiers who would often be out on patrol in the jungle for 3-4 weeks before returning to their base camps. She remembers helping many of those men read letters and other correspondence from home because a project known as “MacNamara’s 100,000” was underway and had drafted many young men who possessed no higher than third-grade level education and could barely read or write.
One night during an enemy mortar attack, Moore was approached by an officer who asked her “Do you really want to die tonight without ever having had sex?” She was then assaulted but didn’t report the incident to authorities because that particular officer was returning home the following week and was highly respected by his teammates. She was already scheduled to be moved to another assignment a few days later, which made the decision easier.
On Debby’s second tour in Vietnam, she met a young first lieutenant headed for graduate school at Columbia University, and they were married the day before they left Vietnam. Upon his graduation, the couple returned to Asia for his new job at an American electronics company. Unfortunately, that marriage ended in divorce after 20 years.
In 2013, while attending a funeral celebration for her Special Services Supervisor from Vietnam and Korea, she met a retired Army colonel who had befriended her forty-five years earlier in Vietnam. After corresponding by email for nearly a year, they decided to return to Vietnam as part of a military historical trip, where they became engaged and later married in 2015.
Moore often reflects on how she manages the physical and psychological stress that Vietnam continues to have on her life. More importantly, she emphatically declares that she will never regret or forget the memorable encounters she had with hundreds of young soldiers, their superiors, and Vietnamese local nationals. In these encounters, she states she learned more about the human spirit than she ever learned in her sociology and psychology classes. Rarely a day passes that Moore is not reminded of their dedication, fortitude, bravery, and sacrifice.