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Marine Veteran is Grateful he Survived Thanksgiving Day 1968

Two CH-46Es from Medium Marine Helicopter Squadron 265, assigned to Marine Aircraft Group 16, 1st Marine Air Wing, unload Marines of the 4th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division into combat north of Phu Bai, South Vietnam, 1966. (U.S. Marine Corps photo)
Two CH-46Es from Medium Marine Helicopter Squadron 265, assigned to Marine Aircraft Group 16, 1st Marine Air Wing, unload Marines of the 4th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division into combat north of Phu Bai, South Vietnam, 1966. (U.S. Marine Corps photo)

John Moore will forever remember Thanksgiving Day 1968. It has nothing to do with turkey and stuffing -- but rather with a traumatic, life-threatening experience.

A Marine serving in Vietnam, Moore was on a patrol to knock out an enemy mortar position when he and his fellow soldiers came under a barrage of mortar fire. One of the mortars landed close -- very close.

"The shrapnel hit me and threw me over on my side," said Moore.

"All 10 of us (in the patrol) were hit. I had shrapnel in my elbow and leg. I was terrified."

Moore, who is now 67, was alive, but he was bleeding and in great pain as he and others were loaded onto helicopters for evacuation.

"I never stopped bleeding until I hit the operating room," he said.

Moore, who also suffered hearing loss, lost part of his elbow and has shrapnel in his body to this day.

After his condition was stabilized, Moore was flown to a naval hospital in Japan for further treatment and then to a hospital in the United States, where he remained for three more months of care.

Later, after recovering sufficiently to work in a non-combat capacity, he remained in the Marines until receiving an early honorable discharge as a corporal in March 1970.

Moore's path to the Marines and Vietnam began after his youthful years in Milton, Indiana, and a brief stint in junior college.

Unsatisfied with the college experience and looking for something new, Moore joined the Marines, completed training and arrived in Vietnam in August 1968.

He soon found himself in combat, often lugging eight grenades and seven canteens of water in addition to ammunition and other supplies.

"I learned there are so many ways to get killed," he said, reflecting on his own close brush with death.

Moore, who moved to Tucson in 1970, worked on ranches and in other jobs before starting work with Pima Animal Control in 1983.

He worked there for 27 years before retiring in 2010.

Moore and his wife, Susan, have two grown daughters. One of them, Katee Moore, calls her father the "most compassionate, smartest, hardworking individual I have ever had the pleasure of knowing."

In nominating him for recognition in the Star's series of stories about veterans, she said "I truly believe that a veteran, a man, a father as wonderful and strong as John Moore should be recognized for the sacrifices he made for his country and the impact he has made on all the lives he has touched.

"There is an old quote associated with the military that goes 'All gave some, some gave all.' My father gave some of his body and all of his heart. He served with honor."

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