Alfred Henry Moore
June 2, 1937 – September 6, 2019
Colonel Alfred Henry Moore, son of the late Arthur Moore and Lerline Leggette Moore, was born on June 2, 1937 in Chicago, Illinois. He died on September 6, 2019 at 82 years of age. Alfred was married for nearly 35 years to the love of his life, Nancy B. Voss, and through this union had one beloved daughter, Alison Vossmoore. Proudly, Alfred also had two older daughters from his first marriage to Marita (Rita) Williams Moore, Lynnda Maria (Moore) Davis and Lisa Moore, whom he raised and loved dearly.
Alfred also had two “sisters,” both of whom predeceased him. Arthur’s niece, Verna Jean Moore, lived with Arthur and Lerline from about age 7; she called Alfred her brother. Verna Jean’s oldest daughter lived with Arthur and Lerline from the time she was born; she also called Alfred her brother. His cousin, Homer Dillard, Jr., was like a brother to him although he lived elsewhere in the Chicago area.
From childhood forward, Alfred had three loves; his family – his immediate family and his extremely large extended family, many of whom lived in his house as he grew up; the United States Marine Corps; and the United States of America. He was a true officer and a gentleman in everything he did and he made his family proud. He believed in rules and protocols - written, moral and ethical - and he held himself to higher standards than he did others, even if to his personal detriment. As his cousin Rev. Charles Young, wrote, Alfred exhibited “principles over pride” throughout his life. He “kept people honest” and would often call them out to keep their thinking and views expressed rational and reasonable. But he wasn’t domineering; he frequently used humor, often of the self-deprecating kind, to make his points. This served him well during his military career, both as a way to deflect the bigoted slings and arrows that came his way and as well as a way to make and keep friends.
During high school, unbeknownst to his parents he was baptized into the AME Church, although as he later became less religious. But he never lost his principles of being caring, loving, fair, honest, and treating others as you would yourself.
A year after graduating from Calumet High School, where he was a wrestling champion, an A student and the proud commander of ROTC, Alfred was drafted. Remembering the photo of his uncle Gordon Miller in his US Marine Corps uniform, plus weighing boot camp in San Diego vs. Biloxi, Alfred enlisted with the Marines, entering boot camp on May 13, 1957. He was in San Diego area for two years, for boot camp and then with the 1st Medium Anti-Aircraft Missile Battalion. Al, as he was known by many, was then sent to Aviation Electronics Technician School in Memphis, prior to being assigned to the 2nd Marine Air Wing at Cherry Point, North Carolina. Al loved tinkering, creating, and jury-rigging mechanical and electronic things. At Cherry Point, he created an inexpensive solution to a vexing problem to pilots, leading to respect from the pilots and commendations from major aviation engineers; his do-hickey could have been patented if he hadn’t worked for the government. He also loved driving the planes, fighters and carriers alike, even though he had to keep them on the ground. He was courted both by IBM and USMC officer recruiting personnel as he was coming to the end of his enlistment in 1961.
Al chose attending USMC’s Officer’s Candidate School and The Basic School, finishing first in both classes. He chose infantry as his career field because it had the best promotion potential. 1962-1964 found Al back in San Diego at the 2nd Infantry Training Regiment at Camp Pendleton. Then he served as Executive Officer of H Company, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines, and went to Okinawa, Japan with the 3rd Marine Division. He was slated to go to Vietnam next but that was cancelled due to family hardship. In 1965 he attended the US Army Aerial Surveillance Course in Maryland so he could serve as Intelligence Special Activities Coordinator with Headquarters, Fleet Marine Force, Pacific in Honolulu, Hawaii, where he served until 1968.
1968-1969 found Al in Vietnam, as Commanding Officer of C Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, where he saw combat. He often said the hardest part of combat was when he would call in air fire on the enemy and the pilots erroneously started shooting on his Company. Al also was Commanding Officer of the 2nd Combined Action Group in Vietnam. This was probably his favorite duty as a Marine because his Company lived in the “ville,” the little towns with the South Vietnamese, where they primarily tried to build trust with the locals.
Following Vietnam, he returned to Chicago where he was an Officer Selection Officer 1970-1973. He remembers with delight going to a college campus via airplane and the pilot letting him take controls for part of the way; this time he was controlling the airplane off the ground. And he remembers going onto a campus the day after the Kent State shooting of college students by National Guardsmen, only to be advised by college officials to leave campus – quickly – because demonstrators against the military were starting to gather. Al used this time in Chicago to earn his BA degree in business from the University of Illinois-Chicago Circle.
The last half of Al’s 32 year military career was primarily spent in management and administrative positions in the Washington, DC area. During this time he almost earned his MBA from Marymount University in Virginia – he was short 1 class. 1975-1976 found Al literally working in the basement in a safe they dubbed the stercorary (translation: a house to store fecal matter), brainstorming the future of the USMC. A year later, Al was back in Okinawa at Camp Schwab as Executive Officer and Commanding Officer of the 3rd Battalion, 9th Marine Corps. He was the first black Marine officer to be a commander of an infantry battalion.
Although he was very demanding of his troops and although he spent most nights patrolling the town of Henoko just off base, looking for Marines acting drunkenly and looking for trouble so he could send them back to base before local Japanese police arrested them, he was fair, honest and his troops highly respected him. Upon his departure, in a very unusual move, his enlisted troops presented him with a set of samurai swords, as well as with a custom-made belt buckle that said “Commanding Officer, 3rd Battalion, 9th Marines.” He wore it virtually every day thereafter. His pride in the respect of his troops that the belt buckle signified was why you almost never saw Al wearing a banded polo or other shirts. This was Al’s last tour overseas, his last tour outside the Washington, DC area, and his last tour leading infantry troops. While he held other high positions, it was this one of which he was the most proud.
He then served as Planning and Programming Officer at Headquarters Marine Corps Reserve Division. This bureaucratic title meant he was the budget officer for the Marine Corps Reserve, which comprises fully one-fourth of USMC. He frequently testified before Congress and was the Reserve’s “money man.” 1983-1984 found Al attending the very prestigious National War College. This was followed by a stint as Politico-Military Planner for Far East-South Asia Region at the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He was slated to become Regimental Commander in Kansas City but he developed vocal cord cancer and its treatment required him to stay near Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington, DC. Not becoming a regimental commander, in practice, probably ended his upward career. He became the Productivity Officer in the Manpower Department at Headquarters Marine Corps, where he was dubbed “the stingy colonel” because his job was to reduce spending. He retired on April 1, 1989, as the highest ranking black active duty officer in the USMC at the time and the 3rd ranking black USMC officer ever. He served for nearly 32 years.
Throughout his military career, Al was awarded the Defense Meritorious Service Medal; Navy Commendation Medal with Combat “V”; Navy Achievement Medal; Combat Action Ribbon; Presidential Unit Citation with one star; Navy Unit Commendation; Meritorious Unit Commendation; National Security Medal; Good Conduct Medal; Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal; National Defense Service Medal; Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal; Vietnam Service Medal with 4 stars; RVN Campaign Medal with Device (60-); Joint Services Identification Badge; Expert Rifle Qualification Badge 6th Award; and Expert Pistol Qualification Badge 3rd Award. He attended The Basic School 1962; Military Justice School 1963; Aerial Surveillance School 1965; Marine Corps Amphibious Warfare School 1973; Naval Post Graduate School Summer Management 1979; and the prestigious National War College 1984.
After retirement Al joined friend and retired USMC Colonel Don Bjorklund’s construction firm to do home improvement work, again utilizing his creative and tinkering skills. Al and Don worked together over 20 years and Al remained close to Don and his family throughout his life.
Al highly valued education, not only for himself but for his children. He made sure that his children had the best education possible, without encumbrances and without debt. He originally forfeited buying a house and even took a temporary job driving a taxi, to cover tuition increases. He researched and secured quality educational resources for his girls, including sending them to language immersion, advanced preparation courses and even tutors when needed.
Al loved to travel and considered travel a form of education. He believed Mark Twain’s words, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness,” In his younger years he drove cross-country on numerous occasions with daughters Lynnda and Lisa crammed into his favorite, tiny, convertible. His sense of humor and love for the countryside made each trip fun. Al, Nancy and Alison traveled the world together. While visiting family, attending a family reunion, or attending a family funeral often formed the framework for travel, viewing museums or historical sites was frequently added into these trips. On other trips, visiting museums, historical places, eating local food, staying “local” especially overseas, plus viewing beautiful scenery took precedence over anything that similar to what was at home. He loved to drive and driving took precedence over local transportation in most cases, however.
Al was always active and loved playing and watching sports. He took up handball in Okinawa. In 1994, he was hit in the eye with the handball; even with “rec specs” on, it severely damaged his eye and left it mostly blind. About the same time, Al developed prostate cancer. This was deemed to be “service connected” because its presumable cause was exposure to “Agent Orange” in Vietnam. Following surgery and radiation, it went into remission. About 10 years later, was diagnosed with Guillain Barre’ Syndrome, an autoimmune disease that totally paralyzed him. A pneumonia vaccine was thought to be the cause it, and he could never take vaccines thereafter. Determined to recover from Guillain Barre’ quickly – after all, a family vacation was planned – as soon as nerves started rebuilding, he undertook a very vigorous rehabilitation program. It worked. Within 4 months of the onset of Guillain Barre’, Al left on the vacation. After another 5 years, his prostate cancer returned but it was treated successfully with drugs for about 10 years. During this time, he developed thymic cancer, an extremely rare cancer since in most adults, the thymus dissolves after childhood. As with the vocal cord cancer, surgery and radiation were sufficient to treat it. In contrast, about a year ago, the prostate cancer drugs became less effective. He became extremely ill about two months ago. Al was one tough Marine.
His memory will be forever loved and cherished by his surviving family members: his loving wife Nancy B. Voss; his three daughters: Lynnda Maria (Steven) Davis of New Albany, OH; Lisa Anita Moore of Chicago, Il, and Alison Vossmoore of Columbus, Ohio; three granddaughters: Brittany Leigh (R. Evan) Barbosa of Perrysburg, OH, Stephanie Elaine Davis of New Albany, OH, and Cassaundra Nicole Davis of New Albany, OH; and two little great-granddaughters: Chandler Gloria and Reese Lynn Barbosa. Al was loved and will be missed by a multitude of surviving family members and friends from all over the country and abroad.
_________________________ A visitation will be held on Saturday, September 21, from 10 AM-12 noon, at the Mullins & Thompson Funeral Service.
Due to Colonel Moore’s distinguished service to our country, he will be interred with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery. Scheduling from the cemetery could take 3-4 months. Details for Alfred’s service at Mullins & Thompson Funeral Service and Arlington burial will be posted once they are known.
Condolences and written remembrances for the Colonel Moore family can be posted on this site.
In lieu of flowers, a memorial has been set up in Colonel Alfred Moore’s honor at the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, www.nmcrs.org, which provides a variety of services for military families in need. A second memorial has been set up with Fairfax CASA, www.fairfaxcasa.org, the Court Appointed Special Advocate program for abused and neglected children. Nancy volunteered with this program for nearly 10 years and Al always was so proud of her for doing so.
10:00 am - 12:00 pm
Mullins and Thompson Funeral Service
1621 Jefferson Davis Highway
Alfred Henry Moore
September 17, 2019
AL WAS A TRUE FRIEND. AN OUTSTANDING MARINE. A GREAT FAMILY MAN. MY THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS ARE WITH NANCY AND FAMILY AT THIS DIFFICULT TIME. BE ASSURED HEAVENS STREETS ARE MUCH SAFER WITH AL ON DUTY. GOD BLESS AND SEMPER FI.