By Kevin Wood/NEMS Daily Journal
There is a man in Marshall County, Mississippi who helps people with disabilities. He is regarded by the administrative law judges of the area as one of the best advocates people can have when bringing a disability claim before the Social Security Administration. He is good at it because he walked through it himself almost four decades ago. In reality, he didn’t “walk” through the process at all – he wheeled through it. His name is William F. Moore, and he is missing his legs from the waist down. People in his hometown of Holly Springs respect him highly. They know Bill Moore is a person they can trust.
Bill Moore was fresh out of Ole Miss and ready to do his two years of service as a part of the university’s ROTC program. In May 1969, Bill Moore was one of 543,000 US troops with his boots on the ground in Vietnam. There were more Americans serving on Vietnamese soil in that single month than at any time before or after. Bill’s division, the 25th Infantry, was stationed at Cu Chi Army Camp, a sprawling network of tents and sheds that was home to tens of thousands of troops. There was also an airport in the middle that stayed busy with flights coming and going, resupplying troops and replenishing their ranks. The fighting was fierce in the jungles surrounding Cu Chi, with the enemy popping up at random in guerrilla warfare. Often the enemy was right beneath their feet. For while there were tens of thousands of U.S. troops on the ground at Cu Chi, there were also several thousand troops for the enemy underground, hidden in tunnels, right beneath their feet.
On May 23, 1969 Bill Moore headed out of the camp at Cu Chi with his unit to help find those tunnels. They rode out in an armored personnel carrier, hopping out of it when someone spotted a possible tunnel. As the unit unloaded from the carrier and made their way into the jungle, Bill Moore’s foot stepped on a booby trap. The only thing he remembers from that moment was a sudden burst of deafening sound and the blast lifting him skyward. The next several hours were a blur, as Bill drifted in and out of consciousness. He remembers his sergeant cradling his head in his lap while still in the jungle. He remembers being loaded into a medivac helicopter, his mangled body being placed across a seat instead of in a stretcher like the other wounded. He remembers his head bobbing backwards as the chopper took off and he remembers hoping someone inside would see his head dangling and hold it up for him. Most of all he remembers knowing that he was badly wounded, but he doesn’t remember the pain.