Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Christopher Moore dies of 'wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle'

Family and friends of a soldier and former Alpaugh resident are mourning his death and reflecting on the community's first loss of a young man in combat during the war in Iraq.

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Christopher Moore, 28, was killed Saturday in Baghdad along with five other soldiers when an improvised explosive device detonated near their vehicle, according to the U.S. Department of Defense.

The soldiers were assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division, based at Fort Hood, Texas.

Moore, who graduated from Alpaugh High School in 1996, was a devoted father to three young daughters who live in Texas, said his mother, Martha Moore of Corcoran. He was very proud to be a soldier.

"He died doing the job he wanted to do," Martha Moore said.

Christopher Moore died during his second tour in Iraq, Martha Moore said. He joined the Army straight out of high school.

Although she knew her son had a dangerous job, Martha Moore said he didn't talk much about the combat he experienced because he didn't want to upset her.

"I know he was scared at times, but he was always more than proud to go," she said.

Christopher Moore was born in Bakersfield, his mother said. The family lived in Shafter and Taft before moving to Alpaugh, where he attended high school.

School officials said Christopher Moore's death was the first of an Alpaugh graduate in combat in Iraq.

It also was the first one the community has had since the Vietnam War.

Christopher Moore excelled in academics and passed all his required classes a year early, allowing him to graduate his junior year, said Sandie Bontrager, a school secretary at Alpaugh High. She said school officials hope to install a plaque at the school to honor Moore.

After he joined the military, Bontrager said, Moore would stop by Alpaugh High to say hello when he was visiting his family on leave.

"He never met a stranger," she said. "The people here who knew him are so upset. He was an outstanding guy."

Frankie Smith, a retired school secretary who was close to Moore, said the fallen soldier had a humorous side and liked to joke with her.

Just before he graduated, Smith said, Moore and a friend tried to "trash can" her, a prank in which a person is forcibly put in a trash can.

Smith said Moore's attempt was unsuccessful, causing just about everyone at school to break into fits of laughter, she said.

When Moore would come to visit, Smith said, he'd humorously suggest that he'd try it again.

"Every time I would see him, he'd say, 'I'm going to trash can you someday,' " Smith said, trying not to sob.

Christopher Moore's death is not the first tragedy to touch his family. His father, Tommy Lee Moore, died in 1998, Martha Moore said.

Christopher Moore will be buried Tuesday in Texas so his daughters can visit his grave site, she said. She and other family members will travel to Texas for the funeral.

In addition to his children, Christopher Moore is survived by two sisters and a brother.

Martha Moore said one of her son's favorite songs was "Mama, I'm Coming Home" by heavy-metal singer Ozzy Osbourne. Although her son won't be able to hear it, Martha Moore reflected that she will always remember her son when she hears it.

"Before he went to Iraq, he said, 'Mom, I'm going [there] to protect you from the people there who want to do bad things to us.' "

From the Fresno Bee