Jane Finger Fairhope, AL
Bill, What a wonderful tribute for your sacrifice and courage in overcoming challenges most of us can't even come close to imagining. What an inspiration you are! If you're ever down this way, please email me and let me know. Would love to see you again and hear about your boys.
Walter Goldsmith Greenville, MS
Your commitment to help others is a testimony to the wondrous grace of God for us all. Thank you for being a voice for the voiceless and an inspiration for us all!
Cathy Cossey New Albany MS
I don't even know how to begin to say, "thank you". It is because of your willingness to serve that we are able to enjoy the many freedoms we have today!! I sincerely appreciate all that you gave that I might enjoy those freedoms. May God bless you as you continue making our world a better place by your service!!!
Merrill Scott Tupelo MS
Thank you Mr. Moore for fighting for our freedoms here and abroad.
LACY CRUM WALNUT, MS
THANK YOU FOR GIVING WHAT SO MANY OF US TAKE FOR GRANTED DAILY.GOD BLESS YOU
FOLLOWING HIS FOOTSTEPS
Captain Bill Moore, Wounded Veteran of Vietnam
Holly Springs, MS
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 the process 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 enemy troops 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.
Bill Moore spent that first night in a field hospital. He was then transported to a larger hospital in Da Nang, then to yet another in Japan. After several nights of not being sure where he was or what had happened, he gradually came to. The first thing he noticed was how flat the sheets looked at the end of his bed. The last time he had been in a bed there were the solid ridges and peaks made by two pair of legs, knees, and feet. This time it was just flat. There was nothing between the sheets and the bed from Bill’s waist to the end. The doctor informed him, “It was either you or them.” In an effort to spare his life they took his legs, from the hip to the tip.
It was a harsh awakening for a young man in his early 20s. He spent the next year rehabilitating every aspect of his life at the Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington D.C., then a naval hospital in Millington, TN. But from that moment when he first saw the flat sheet, Bill Moore would demonstrate that even though Vietnam may have taken his legs, it never took his heart.
Bill Moore eventually settled in Holly Springs, where he set up shop as a Certified Public Accountant. His business grew steadily over the years from his location on Craft Street. He contributed to the community in numerous ways, never once asking for any special favors or advantages. He simply wanted to prove to the people there that he was as capable as the next man. He would prove himself more than capable.
As a part of the recovery process, Bill Moore had to prove his disability to the Social Security Administration so he could receive many of the benefits he was due. He discovered that the process was more difficult to navigate and endure than many of the challenges he faced in rehabilitation. As a wounded veteran with a college education, he knew he was virtually guaranteed to qualify. But his mind went to those who didn’t have the advantages he had. By the late 1970s, he began the process of helping people who were seeking their disability claims. In the past 40 years, he has literally helped hundreds of people wade through the system and get what they need. Many of the people he helps tell Bill “thank you” every chance they get. One person even credited him with saving her life.
Bill Moore has also left his mark in other ways. In the early 1990s, the city of Holly Springs had not yet complied with the Americans with Disabilities Act by providing wheelchair access to their public buildings. Because of his work as an accountant and disability advocate, Bill Moore made the trip to the post office several times a week. There was no wheelchair ramp at the front of the old historic building, just a set of unevenly measured steps. Bill kept a stick by the back door of the Post Office and used it to bang on the door whenever he needed help. He would then conduct his mail business from the back door of the building by the loading dock.
The situation was the same at the Marshall County Courthouse, where a narrow flight of stairs was the only option to get to the courtroom on the second floor. Frustrated by his inability to get what he needed just to do business at either the post office or the courthouse, Bill Moore led the charge to get the city caught up to speed. The wheels turned slowly and there was great resistance. But after a series of court orders and appeals, Bill Moore finally got the city and county to comply by order of a federal judge. Wheelchair ramps were added to the post office and the courthouse got an elevator. The rest of the public buildings in Marshall County were made compliant as well.
To some people, it may seem like a somewhat insignificant thing to do what Bill Moore has done. They might say, “He helped people get a check and he helped others get inside buildings easier.” But that completely misses the point. What Bill Moore has done is to improve the quality of people’s lives by being willing to serve them personally and lead them passionately.
When a man lies in a bed looking down at flat sheets where once there were feet, he has to make a choice. Will he spend the rest of his life lying down and letting others do for him what they will out of pity, or will he stand up and lead once again out of a passion for serving people? Bill Moore chose to stand. And in choosing to stand, he has helped others in Marshall County and across north Mississippi do the very same thing. There is tremendous dignity in being a veteran wounded as he was. He deserved to be honored regardless of how life after Vietnam turned out. But there is greater dignity in being a citizen leading as he has. How different all of north Mississippi might be if we simply followed in Bill Moore’s footsteps.
Thank you to Mr. Jimmy Warren of Holly Springs, MS for submitting Mr. Bill Moore’s name to 40 Days of Honor.
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