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Area soldier returns home from Afghanistan one day before bin Laden's death
By Sally Voth - firstname.lastname@example.org
WOODSTOCK -- U.S. Army Reserve Spc. David Moore returned home from Afghanistan the day before 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden was killed by U.S. forces.
But the 2008 Central High School graduate is relishing time spent with his family more than the death of the world's most wanted terrorist.
"It's definitely a good thing that bin Laden's dead now for all the victims of 9/11, for all their families," Moore said Tuesday afternoon in his mother's kitchen. "I definitely don't think it's the end for al-Qaida. I don't think killing bin Laden is such a great deal."
What is a great deal for the 21-year-old aspiring police officer is having personal freedom and spending time with his family, including his bride of one year, Corrissa, and 11-month-old daughter, Rylie.
Moore enlisted in the U.S. Army while a junior in high school, and completed basic training in the summer between his junior and senior years. He was activated last spring and sent to Afghanistan as part of the 372nd Military Police Company out of Cumberland, Md.
"We got married, and then he got shipped off the next day," Mrs. Moore said. "And, [I] was eight months pregnant. It was very hard. My mother-in-law and my mom helped me. They were a big support [after Rylie's birth]. If it wasn't for them, I definitely wouldn't have made it through."
Stationed on the outskirts of Kandahar, Moore's unit did combat missions, road clearing and reconnaissance, but spent most of their time training Afghan police officers -- a fruitless task, in his opinion.
"It was OK," Moore said. "They're hard to train. They are people that don't want to learn anything, don't want to help their own country. They just want us to do all their work. They just want the money."
As far as trusting those Afghan police officers, "absolutely not," Moore said. Soldiers from other units were killed by such officers during his time there. Still, he doesn't regret joining up.
"If I could have done another mission in Afghanistan besides training people that don't want to learn, I would've liked it a lot better," he said.
However, there were some Afghan cops who did gain Moore's trust. He became friendly with them and thought they would watch his back.
While over there, he witnessed abject poverty. Children as young as 3 lived naked on the streets as orphans.
Aside from the trainee policemen, the Afghan people he met were compliant, although a language barrier kept interaction to a minimum.
"Most of them knew that we were there to help," Moore said.
He thinks Afghanistan is beyond repair, with no real infrastructure and people just doing what they can to survive.
"I wish I could say we could do the same for Afghanistan that we did for Iraq, but I don't think that's going to happen," Moore said. "It's too bad over there [for the U.S.] to pull out."
Rylie was born at the end of last May, and Moore was able to see some of what was happening thanks to cooperative hospital staff and Skype. He made a three-day visit two weeks later.
"It didn't set in that I had a daughter, and I didn't get to go home again for another six months," Moore said.
In November, he received a 16-day leave that was extended when his grandmother, Barbara Baker -- who lived next door -- fell ill on his last day and died several days later.
Debbie Simmons still has a mini-shrine for her son, where she lit a candle every night he was gone.
"It was a lot of sleepless nights," she said. "I think the worst times was when you heard something happened over there, and just wanted to hear from somebody. I've called [Mrs. Moore] many a night at 1 o'clock in the morning, [and asked], 'Have you talked to David?'"
When she found out no celebration was planned for the part of her son's unit arriving in Fort Meade, Md., she acted.
"I found out he wasn't having a homecoming, he was being dropped off in a parking lot, and that was unacceptable to me," she said.
A motorcycle enthusiast, Simmons called a friend to see if a group of bikers could be organized.
"Before we knew it, we had over 15 bikers escorting him home," she said. "Then, we made signs and got the community involved. There were also signs honoring Thomas Wilson, who wasn't so fortunate to come home."
Several years ahead of Moore at school, Wilson was killed in combat in August 2007 in Afghanistan. He was 21.
The welcome home surprised and touched Moore.
"It was awesome," he said.
His mother said he still cries when he thinks about the support. His daughter, who inherited his piercing blue eyes and who Simmons describes as "such a gift," wore a red-white-and-blue tutu Mrs. Moore ordered online.
In these first few days back, Moore is enjoying spending time with his friends and family and not having to constantly take orders.
"You learn to appreciate a lot of things when you're back home," he said. "It's a good readjustment."