On May 20, 1966, PFC Gilliam Moore, A Company, 1st of the 503rd, 173rd Airborne Brigade, attached to the 101st Airborne Division, was killed in action in the jungles of Vietnam.  He was 19 years old.

You can find out more about him, including medals earned, by clicking here.

He was “on point” and on patrol with his unit on what would be his fateful day.  After hitting an ambush, PFC Moore was shot and hit with shrapnel from a grenade.  His left arm, his strong arm, was torn off.  He gave the last of what he could give for his country that day, but not before whispering a message to his buddy who rushed to his side….

Forty-five years later, to the day, his son writes this Champions’ Blog post in his memory and honor.  It strikes me that he has been gone over twice as long as he was alive.  19….  With a 7-month-old son back home in the States he had never met.  I sit here today, typing on a blog on my website, to be read by people on the internet; concepts completely unheard of on 5.20.66.  As I type, I try to imagine what went through his mind in those final moments.  Was it worth it?  Did he understand fully what he was fighting for?  Did he agree?  Was he scared?  Determined?  At peace?

I think about what he sacrificed at 19.  When I was that age, I was a sophomore in college.  Drinking (legal, at the time), partying, having fun…and even studying every once in a while.  To this day, I’ve never faced anything like bullets, shrapnel, or the pure chaos I’ve read that war is.  The closest I’ve ever come to it  is by reading his letters written while in-country.  At 45 years old, I can only imagine how I would handle war.  At 19, I couldn’t even have imagined it.  Let alone giving up my life at the hands of the enemy during a war that was less-than-fully supported by my countrymen at home.

His friend, who heard his final words, made it back to the States.  And fulfilled his promise to deliver my dad’s message to my mom.  As far as I know, she has shared that message with no-one, not even me.  A final message…whispered across 45 years…still alive in my mother’s mind and spirit.  A man…forever young…still alive in his son, who reaches across the internet and implores you to REMEMBER the sacrifices of my dad and ALL who have given their last full measure of devotion to our flag and our country.  A spirit…still alive in two granddaughters he could never have imagined on 5.20.66.  They look at his picture on the wall, proud and in uniform…and notice how they, and their dad…look like Grandpa.

A grandfather at 19.  Forever young.  Rest In Peace.

And Dad, if you never heard it during those turbulent times of 1966, I whisper this message, back across those 45 years, from my spirit to yours: Job Well Done.

2 Responses to "19"

  • Willie Nabors says:

    I agree, and join with you in offering thanks to a generation of youngsters who gave it all way before they had a chance to appreciate the lives they were laying down. I appreciate him, and all those like him, who made it possible for the rest of us to be here today. And I especially appreciate PFC Moore, without whom I would not have been blessed to meet the boy who became the man that graces our lives today. He would be proud.

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