Ruth Moore: A Woman You Should Know
The views and opinions expressed in Bob’s Blog are solely those of the author and do not purport to reflect the views and opinions of the CAC Office on Aging or its staff. Posted 12-08-2022
Every day many people cross our paths. Most of them we have never met and don’t know. Yet each one has a story. They don’t think it’s significant. We never get to hear it unless we ask them to tell us about themselves and their experiences.
If you go to the O’Connor Senior Center, you may have seen a woman there. Her name is Ruth Moore. Ruth doesn’t think her story is anything out of the ordinary. So, she normally doesn’t share it with many people. Yet,
Ruth’s Story is Significant
I thought you would be interested in it.
Ruth grew up in a small town in northern Minnesota. She had 2 brothers and one sister. Her dad had been in the US Army. Throughout his life, he told them of his experiences in the army. From him, Ruth and her siblings developed a love for the armed services.
The main industry in northern Minnesota was mining – Iron Ore to be exact. It was transported from there, primarily on ships on the Great Lakes, to the steel towns in the US. The largest of these were Chicago, Cleveland, Buffalo and Pittsburgh. The iron ore was transformed into steel in blast furnaces in massive plants in the steel towns.
The steel industry boomed in the United States until the late 1970’s when manufacturing plants could buy imported steel more cheaply.
There was a constant need for miners in northern Minnesota. Miners made fairly good money. However, mining was tough work and most of the miners were men.
Very few women worked for the mining companies. Most were housewives who stayed home and raised their children. There were not many jobs in the area for women who chose to work. These normally didn’t pay much.
Ruth grew up in the fifties. When she graduated from high school, there were only two options open to her if she stayed in the area. She could go to college or get a low paying job. She had no desire to go onto school. She also didn’t want to have to take a low paying job.
What Was She to Do?
Remember – her dad had been in the army. Ruth and her siblings heard his stories while they were growing up.
Her brothers, Rodney and Russell, decided to go into the army too.
If you’re from a small town, you know nothing much exciting ever happens there. Some people want to see what life is like elsewhere and have the urge to get out an explore.
Ruth wanted to see the United States. Since her brothers were in the army, she figured the best way she could see the United States was by enlisting. So, she went to the recruiting office in a nearby town and enlisted in the Women’s Army Corps (WACS).
She was in the WACS from 1961 to 1964. That was during the early part of the Viet Nam War. The army placed her in the Signal Corps. It had other ideas for Ruth. Rather than allowing her to see the US, the army sent her to France. There, she and the others in her unit relayed messages from Europe and Asia to the US and from the US to Europe and Asia.
Think back to that time. There was no internet. There were no satellites. TV was in its early years. Communication was not instantaneous. Most of us found out about what was happening in the world from newspapers.
The Cold War was still raging on. Communism was still spreading. Fathers were building bomb shelters. Kids in school had drills where they learned what to do in case of a nuclear attack.
The Signal Corps was instrumental in keeping the leaders of the armed forces up to date on what was happening throughout the world and relaying their messages on action to be taken to our troops throughout the world. Ruth was an integral part of this.
The Viet Nam War and Disrespect for Our Soldiers
Think back to what was happening here in the US in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. Many were very critical of our involvement in Viet Nam. There were protests regularly.
Frequently, college students were involved in these protests. Many times, their anger carried over to the servicemen when they returned home. Derogatory comments were made to them. Some of these servicemen were even spit on.
Many of the protestors seemed to forget that most who fought in Viet Nam did not choose to be there. They were drafted and went there with their units.
While the protests didn’t really grow large until the late 1960’s, this antiwar movement started in the early 1960’s. Ruth encountered some of the animosity when she came home from France. She also was deeply hurt when she saw how her fellow servicemen and women were being treated after that.
There has always been a special part in Ruth’s heart for those who have served in the armed forces. Over the years she has taken part in Veteran’s Day parades and other events.
As the years passed, the hearts of those Americans who never served in the armed forces changed. We started to learn from our mistakes. Now we are grateful for servicemen and the fact they keep us safe. It has become common for us to thank them for their service.
In 2005, two men felt our servicemen deserved more. They had a vision of honoring veterans of the armed services by taking them to Washington, DC for a day to visit the memorials and monuments which were created there to honor their service and sacrifice. Those who go on these trips don’t have to pay anything for this. Most are flown.
The first to be honored were World War II veterans. Over the years, that was expanded to include veterans of the Korean and Viet Nam Wars and intermediary operations. These have come to be known as Honor Flights.
In 2007, Eddie Mannis wanted to honor veterans in East Tennessee the same way. He was instrumental in starting HonorAir Knoxville. HonorAir Knoxville does the same as the Honor Flights. Veterans are given a free one day trip to the nation’s capital so they can visit the memorials there in their honor.
From 2007 through early in 2022, there have been 30 HonorAir flights. Most of the veterans on the flights have been men. Very few women were honored.
By 2019, it was realized there was an injustice. Women had served in the armed forces. During their tours of duty, they had supported the war efforts going on. They needed to be honored too. It was decided to have HonorAir Flights for them too.
The first flight for female veterans was scheduled for 2020. However, Covid-19 hit. The flight was cancelled. The women scheduled to be on it had to wait longer.
The flight was going to take place in the spring of 2022. However, there was another delay. The Women’s Memorial was being renovated and was closed. Most of the ladies on the flight wanted to see it. So, the flight was rescheduled for October of 2022.
HonorAir Flight 31
On Wednesday, October 12, Honor Air Flight 31 departed from McGhee Tyson Airport. There were 142 on this flight. 2 were men – veterans of World War 2. The other 140 were women. One of those was Ruth Moore.
There is much preparation for an HonorAir flight. One thing is to give those veterans going on the flight an overview of what to expect. They got this overview at a breakfast several weeks prior to the flight.
At the breakfast, they were given all the details about the flight and the day’s events.
• They had to be at the McGhee Tyson airport at 6 am on October 12 for an 8 am departure.
• To keep the group together and make sure no one got lost in Washington, there were four teams – red, white, blue and green. Each person was assigned to a team.
• There also was an overview of each of the memorials they could see.
At the airport on the morning of October, Ruth and the others found people waiting in the concourse to see them off. Among those wishing them a safe flight and a great day were Indya Kincannon, the mayor of Knoxville, Glenn Jacobs, the mayor of Knox County and Congressman Tim Burchett.
As the plane taxied away from the gate, a water canon salute gave them a proper send-off. The groundcrew waved goodbye.
When they arrived in Washington, there were more people waiting to greet them at the gate and in the concourse.
The women and the two men then set off with their groups to see the various memorials dedicated to the servicemen who fought in the various wars and who were in the various branches of the armed services.
One of Ruth’s favorites was the Women’s Memorial. This celebrates the role of women in the armed forces throughout the years. During the Civil War, female nurses cared for wounded soldiers and others helped prepare meals. After the Women’s Army Corps (WACs) was created in 1941, their roles expanded. In World War II, women were allowed to drive ambulances.
In the years since, many other roles have opened up to them, such as, telephone operators and architects as well as various clerical and administrative duties. (With the advancement in the Communication industry, there is no longer a need for telephone operators.)
Until 2015, women were not allowed to serve in combat. That was changed that year. There are no longer any restrictions about the positions where they can serve.
Ruth and the others went on to see the Air Force, Marines, Naval, World War II. Korean and Viet Nam Memorials.
At the Korean War Memorial, the ladies saw engraved on a wall
Freedom Is Not Free
That had a significant impact on Ruth and many others.
The most moving part of the day for Ruth was the visit to Arlington National Cemetery and the tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Three events really moved her – the changing of the guard, the laying of a wreath and the playing of taps. She appreciated the way the servicemen buried at Arlington are honored.
Prior to the trip family members and friends as well as students in schools in Knoxville wrote notes to each person on the plane. There was a special mail call on the flight back. Each one received an envelope containing these notes. Many again were moved to tears by the way these people thanked them for their service.
At McGhee Tyson, there was a special welcome. People filled the concourse from the ticket counters to the security checkpoint. As they came through the security checkpoint, they received a rousing welcome. Many were thanking them for their service. This also was overwhelming for them.
Visiting the memorials and Arlington Cemetery had a tremendous impact on Ruth and everyone else. They were happy they were honored for their service. They were moved by everything they saw. Some were brought to tears when thinking about those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
This Event Did Not End with the Return Home
The annual Veterans Day parade was held in Knoxville on November 11. In the parade, there was a float for veterans who were women. Some of those on Flight 31 were on that float.
On November 12, Ruth and many of the others on the flight and their families attended a Reunion breakfast at Bridgewater Place. This was an opportunity for each of them to relive and share with others their experiences from the trip They also had the opportunity to connect with each other another again.
At the breakfast before the flight, on the trip itself and at the Reunion breakfast, Ruth and the others met others they had never known before but shared the experiences they had. Friendships were made which will continue in the coming years.
Ruth was overwhelmed by the experience HonorAir Knoxville provided for her. She recommends those veterans who have not been on this trip take advantage of it. There are applications on their site. You can get one by clicking here.
Ruth’s Love for the Armed Services
There is one constant here that can be seen in Ruth’s life. As she was growing up, not only she but her brothers developed a love for the armed services from their dad. All three of them enlisted and served their country. That love has continued for Ruth till today and has been reinforced by the HonorAir Knoxville flight she was on and her trip to Washington.
Ruth, the people at the O’Connor Center and the Office on Aging as well as the rest of us in East Tennessee thank you for your service and your love for those who have also served.
If you have any comments on what you have read in this post, I would love to know them. Please email them to me. Also – if you have any ideas about subjects you would like to see discussed in future posts, please send me an email and let me know. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.