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Veterans who served our country: Darrel J. Moore

For some who enlisted, military service served them well after discharge, like Darrel Moore, the current Veterans Service Officer for Polk County. Although his parents lived in Westfield, Mass., Moore was born in his Tryon, N.C. in the old St. Luke’s Hospital because his mother, Margaret Ballew, a Tryon High School graduate from the class of 1940, wanted to be surrounded by her family for the birth of her first child since her husband, Jack, travelled so much for business and couldn’t be there when he was born. Moore attended the University of South Carolina in Columbia (USC) after graduating from Westfield High School in 1962.

“I dropped out of college after a year and a half and moved to Boston. Those were my ‘hippie’ days. I was eventually drafted in 1965 but decided to enlist. Even though it meant three years of service versus two, I did this so I could choose my military school (Personnel Management) and my preferred geographical area (Europe) as well as get an extra year of the GI Bill to fund college,” Moore said.

“I completed basic training and advanced individual training in personnel management at Fort Dix, N.J. Like everyone else in basic training, I was given a battery of tests to determine intellectual level, aptitude for different occupations, language ability, etc. I did so well on those tests that they tried to convince me to attend Officer’s Candidate School and the Foreign Language School. I declined both times because it would have extended my military service to four years and I had determined to go back to college under the GI Bill after three years of military service. I regretted not attending the language school as the best schools in the world are in the military and it would have been a great educational opportunity.

“I was lucky in my military service. In September 1965, I flew into Frankfurt, Germany and, out of all the people on the plane, I was the only one going to France. They put me on a train to Paris and told when I arrived at the Gare d’Lest station to check in with the military office there. Due to my test scores, they diverted me from my original orders to Nancy, France and sent me to Orleans, France where the U.S. Army Communication Zone Europe (USACONZEUR) Headquarters was located where I was interviewed and retained. This was a prime duty assignment and I could wear civilian clothes on the weekend when I wasn’t on duty. I was also promoted to Sargent E-5 so I could command troops.

“In 1966, President DeGaulle announced France was dropping out of the NATO alliance, and it was my job to find assignments for the 26,000 enlisted troops in France to somewhere else in the world. This was a huge responsibility for such a young kid. By the time De Gaulle dropped out of NATO in 1967, I was one of the last ones to leave France. The USACOMZEUR moved to Worms, Germany where I spent my last year before going home.

“I encourage every young person to pursue military experience in order to learn more about themselves and to strengthen their independence and self-confidence. It’s a chance to experience something that cannot be learned by doing anything else and a great opportunity to broaden one’s view of the world by experiencing the world outside of where you grew up and to become all you can be.”

Moore left the Army in 1968 and moved to Tryon where he worked at the post office during the day and attended the Spartanburg branch of USC at night. He met and married a local girl, Kay Staton, and the couple moved to Columbia, S.C. where he completed a BA in history and political science and began a Master’s program in art history. He switched to public administration to find better employment, but exhausted his GI Bill before he could complete it and went to work for the Veterans Administration in Asheville, N.C.

He worked at eight different VA hospitals around the country before he retired after 30 years of government service as a GS-14 Chief Operations Officer. The couple returned to Polk County to be near aging parents and Moore consulted for the VA for a year and a half before serving in his current capacity as the Veterans Service Officer for Polk County.

If you have any questions concerning veteran benefits please call Darrel Moore call at 894-0003 or visit him at his office at 75 Carmel Lane, off Skyuka Rd. in Columbus Monday through Thursday.

If you are a veteran and would you like to share about your experience in the US military please contact Robin Edgar at 2robinedgar@gmail.com or call The Tryon Daily Bulletin at 828-859-9151.