America's Best

Cook Barela (from my diary)

Hill St. Peter, (Phu Son 2) South Viet Nam
Dai Loc Map Grid coordinates 945647                
0500 hours, July 19th, 1967

Early on the morning of the 19th, I awoke when Bro laid his Marine Corps utility jacket over me. I had been sleeping on the hard Viet Nam ground and his warm jacket gave me much warmth.

While the days are hot in Viet Nam, the nights can get cold. I had only brought my green undershirt and no shirt on the operation and was trying to hug the ground for what warmth it could offer. I had covered myself with my flak jacket and was using my rolled up plastic poncho as a pillow. I had not been issued a poncho-liner that some of the veterans had. My backpack was cutting off some of the morning breeze that flowed at ground level.

We had retired late the night before and most of us were dog tired from the patrols we had ran the day before. Jones had stood watch from ten until midnight, Bro from midnight until two in the morning, and I had stood watch from two till four. I had to awaken Jones again so that he could stand watch until sunrise. About an hour after Jones had taken over the watch, I heard movement from our left side where first squad was standing watch. Someone from that squad soon came over to where Jones was and I saw Jones point the Marine toward the direction Bro was sleeping. I was quite tired and was falling back into a deep sleep when I heard Bro and Jones talking about a gun team going out to set up an early morning ambush. Since I had just gotten off watch, I heard Bro say that he was not going to send me.

A short time later, Bro came over and laid his utility jacket over me. I felt its warmth and awoke slightly. Realizing what he had done, I felt like thanking Bro but I was so tired I had trouble opening my eyes. Besides, a Jarhead does not do that easily. How do you thank a Marine when he does such a caring deed like that, it was out of character for a Marine who usually didn't do things like that.

I could hardly keep my eyes open when he walked away. As I was rapidly falling back into a deep sleep I remember seeing the fire team of only three men and Bro, with the gun swung over his right shoulder walk out of our compound. I could only see their dark silhouettes as they faded into the darkness of the night. A couple of feet away, Jones was sitting upright next to the gun. He was wrapped up in a camouflaged poncho liner and I saw him light a cigarette. He quickly cuffed the partially lit cigarette with both hands and puffed on it through a small opening between the thumb and forefinger of his right hand. With the secured feeling of knowing that Jones was on watch, an ambush team out toward our front and the added warmth of Bro's utility jacket, I fell fast asleep.

Whzz! Whzzz! The swift bee - like buzzing sound awoke me. Jones quickly dropped behind the small wall of sandbags; I turned to see him scrambling for his rifle. He then quickly buried his head into the ground as another series of rounds split the air just inches above us. Whzz! Whzzz! phzzzz!

Jones recovered, reached over and put on his helmet while shuffling to place his back up against the small sand bag wall. Off in the distance, I could hear the report of small arms fire; I turned on my belly and crawled over toward Jones. He peeked over the sand bag wall looking out in the general direction the firefight was occurring. A couple more bullets snapped overhead and a few kicked up dust a few feet to the left of our machine gun's position. They struck the ground where I had been sleeping, only seconds before.

Off in the distance where the tree line was, we could hear the report of small arms fire followed by automatic rifle fire or an M60 opening up. From the distance, it was hard to tell. The majority of the shots did not sound like the sound an M16 made. A few seconds later a series of minute explosions in the heavy underbrush brought silence.

"Where's bro? Where's the fire team?" I asked Jones.

The Navy Cross Awarded posthumously reads:

"While on patrol, Lance Corporal Moor's fire team suddenly came under intense, pointblank enemy automatic weapons fire from a large force of well-concealed Viet Cong. The initial burst killed the radioman, destroyed the radio and wounded three other members of his team, including LCpl Moore.

Despite his painful wound; he quickly returned fire and deployed his only effective rifleman. As the Viet Cong assaulted the decimated fire team, he quickly anticipated their tactics, shouted commands and encouragement to his rifleman, and together they repelled the assault. As the enemy regrouped, he ordered his rifleman to help their wounded comrades while he provided security on their vulnerable right flank. Compelled to drag himself across several yards of exposed ground being raked by unrelenting enemy fire and grenade explosions, LCpl Moor established himself in a conspicuous target, delivered burst after burst of suppressive fire, and cut down four approaching enemy before he himself was mortally wounded.

By his daring initiative, valiant fighting spirit, and selfless devotion to duty in the face of insurmountable odds, LCpl. Moore was responsible for saving the lives of his comrades and thereby upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service. He Gallantly gave his life for his country."

In Honor of Ronald Allan Moore by the jarhead he placed his mantle over. I'm still looking for Ron, "Bro's", folks. Copyright © Cook Barela 1997 All Rights Reserved

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Added 7/20/97