James Albert Moore Oral History
August 9, 1995
Oral History Item Type Metadata
Churchill County Oral History Project
an interview with
CDR JAMES ALBERT MOORE, USN, RET.
August 9, 1995
This interview was transcribed by Glenda Price; edited by Norma Morgan; final by Pat Boden; index by Gracie Viera; supervised by Myrl Nygren, Director of Oral History Project, Churchill County Museum.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this interview are those of the interviewer and interviewee and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Churchill County Museum or any of its employees.
Commander Jim Moore, USN Retired, is the epitome of an officer and a gentleman. Jim is the first of the military men who were stationed at Naval Air Station, Fallon in its early years. His position as both an enlisted man and as an officer gives an overall view of the life at the base. His reaction to the first encounter with his superiors is hilarious and one can well imagine how the inner workings of the base have improved from the early 1960's to the time of Jim's retirement and decision to remain in that unheard of area called Fallon, Nevada. This oral history gives a side of the life at the base that has not been recorded prior to this time.
The attitude of the Fallon community is well documented, and it is to Jim's credit that he decided not to isolate himself or his family and to become an active part of the youth-oriented area of the town. His determination to get the base children integrated with the town children through sports activities is admirable. His insistence on remarking that the base children who attended the local schools were paying their way through the government subsidies for school children shows that he was well aware of the antagonism from some of the locals who did not realize that it was not the local tax money that was being spent on these "outsiders".
Jim's love for his family is evident, and each time that he returned to Fallon it is to "Marg's" credit that she looked forward to being a part of the Fallon community. She is still an ardent supporter of Fallon. Her health is not the best, but one never hears a word about that, and Jim is as devoted a husband to her as he was when they first married.
I was amazed at the memories that Jim could recall. His is a retentive mind, and he is a magnificent "tale weaver". I wish that this history could have been longer so he could tell of the ensuing events that he was a part of, but we must remember that this is a history of the early years at Naval Air Station, Fallon.
Interview with James Albert Moore, Cdr. USN
LaVOY: This is Marian Hennen LaVoy of the Churchill County Museum Oral History Program interviewing Commander James Albert Moore, United States Navy retired. The subject of this interview will be the Navy Base and Commander Moore's tenure at the base. The date is August 9, 1995, and Jim is being interviewed at his home, 2650 Highland Drive, Fallon, Nevada. Well, good afternoon, Jim.
MOORE: Good afternoon, Marian.
LaVOY: How are you?
LaVOY: Good, good. Jim, would you mind telling me where you were born?
MOORE: I was born in Oakland, California.
LaVOY: And when?
MOORE: On January 15, 1927.
LaVOY: Was your family stationed there, or was that where they lived?
MOORE: No, my father and mother were spending the weekend in Oakland from Reno, and I happened to be born on that weekend at the old Oakland Maternity Hospital which is no longer in existence.
LaVOY: In other words you ruined their weekend.
MOORE: I did. I did.
LaVOY: Did they live in Reno?
MOORE: At the time, he worked for the Maytag Washing Machine Company. He did a project on making the old type washing machines more waterproof to keep the soapsuds from running all over the floor, and old man Maytag gave him a pickup truck to use for the weekend as a reward, and they went to Oakland, California.
LaVOY: Did Mr. Maytag live in Reno?
MOORE: I don't know. I don't have any idea. I kind of doubt that.
LaVOY: But they went to Oakland just for a social weekend?
MOORE: I think he also gave them a hundred dollars which was a lot of money in those days. And, of course, my mother had her family in Alameda which is right close.
LaVOY: Well, now tell me, what was your father's name?
MOORE: His name is Al Moore.
LaVOY: And where was he born?
MOORE: He was born in Garden City, Kansas, and my mama was born in Alameda, California.
LaVOY: And what was her maiden name?
MOORE: She was Mary Louise Corica.
LaVOY: Now, how did they happen to be up in Reno?
MOORE: Well, to my knowledge, he was working at that time for a Maytag distributorship.
LaVOY: How long did they keep you down in Oakland?
MOORE: Well, I don't really know the answers to all those questions, Marian. I should tell you that my mother died in childbirth, and from that point in time I kind of lived with this part of the family and that part of the family and moved around a lot, and so I don't have a lot of recollection about that.
LaVOY: Well, how very sad. That is indeed a tragic story. Where is she buried?
MOORE: She's buried in San Francisco with her father, my grandfather, and her mother.
LaVOY: Oh! Did you grow up in the Reno area?
MOORE: Oh, no, no, no. I went to live with my mama's sister first in Berkeley [California]. My dad never established a home for me that I could remember, but there were times when I was with him and just kind of all over. Housekeepers, babysitters, whoever it was, and I can't say that I had any one specific home, but eventually, and this may be of interest, I wound up with my grandmother, my dad's mother.
LaVOY: And her name?
MOORE: Her name was Helen Lee. She was married to a Navy man, and he raised me. He's still alive today, and he is "Pop" to me. He was the only true father I really had.
LaVOY: And his full name?
MOORE: Harold F. Lee.
LaVOY: And where's he living now?
MOORE: He lives in Greenville, South Carolina.
LaVOY: Then he is the one that you feel is responsible for your entering the Navy?
MOORE: Oh, no. I think Japan was probably responsible for my entering the Navy. (laughing) I went into the Navy right out of high school in 1944.
LaVOY: Where did you graduate from high school?
MOORE: Point Loma High School in Point Loma, California, right out of San Diego.
LaVOY: And you were living with Mr. Lee and your .
MOORE: Well, he was gone in the war zone at the time, too, and I was living there with my grandmother through the high school portion.
LaVOY: I see. Now, Jim, you must have attended schools in different parts of the country. Could you give me a brief resume of where you went to school?
MOORE: I could start out by telling you that I was in so many high schools in the four years that I went into Norfolk Gramby High School three times in one year, and my classmates thought I was home sick. (laughing)
LaVOY: (laughing) Explain that a little bit, please.
MOORE: Well, when my grandmother married my grandfather, Mr. Lee, she was a ship follower. In those days they didn't have home ports for ships, and when the ship would move from Norfolk to Boston to Key West or wherever they were going to go, then my grandmother and I would pick up and go there, too. I was in a lot of grammar schools. I don't remember the grammar schools as well as I do the high schools, but I attended high school in Key West, Florida; Norfolk, Virginia; Quincy, Massachusetts; Charlestown, South Carolina, and Point Loma. Just about any place where there was a Navy seaport I attended school there.
LaVOY: Am I assuming that Mr. Lee was in the Navy?
MOORE: Yes, he was. He was a career officer, and he retired shortly after World War II after thirty years of service.
LaVOY: And what was his rate?
MOORE: He was a Chief Warrant Officer.
LaVOY: Very interesting. You had a very interesting adolescent life.
MOORE: Yeah, I never knew where I was going to wake up the next morning.
LaVOY: Well, when you entered the Navy, where did you enter?
MOORE: I entered in San Francisco, and I went to boot camp in San Diego, California.
LaVOY: Tell me a little something about boot camp.
MOORE: Well, in those days, the War was on. It was a pretty fast deal. They'd put you in detention for twenty-one days to make sure that you didn't have a whole lot of diseases or any other of that type of thing, and some close order drill. Run you through the gas mask routine, and I would guess we were there twelve weeks. I don't think it was quite that long, but somewhere around there. And then they send you out to the outgoing unit. They used to call it OGU, and then from there you got a set of orders. I got a set of orders to a ship. The first ship I went to was an LST [Landing Ship Tank].
LaVOY: And what was the name of it? Do you remember?
MOORE: Well, they didn't name them in those days. They were numbered. It was the 1150. But, it is kind of ironic, when they did later name LST's they named them after counties, and that particular ship happened to be named the Alameda County which is where my mother was born.
LaVOY: Oh, that is interesting. Well, now, you were only about seventeen years old at this time, were you not?
MOORE: That's correct.
LaVOY: What action did you see in the Pacific?
MOORE: Well, we were in the South Pacific area, in the Okinawa, Iwo Jima area, for replacement troops after the original landings were made. We mostly carried Army personnel.
LaVOY: Do you have any interesting stories that you'd like to tell about some of these forays?
MOORE: Oh, I don't know that they're so interesting in the early years. I always kind of thought that an LST--of course, it's a landing craft type of a ship, and I wanted a real ship, so I kept trying to get into the destroyer Navy. I finally got into destroyers, and I was on two back-to-back tours of destroyers, and I decided I didn't like that either. I was on the what we called the China Patrol in those days, home ported in Tsingtao, China, and we used to patrol the Yangtze River. I came back to San Diego after a two-year tour on that ship--it was on the USS Frank Knox. I was back in San Diego maybe a week, and they called me back off leave and sent me on another ship right back to the South Pacific claiming that I was critical in that the War was over now and everybody was going home and that they needed my services. You know the needs of the service, and the next thing I knew I was right back in China. I was on the [USS] Mansfield then on that trip, and we had just finished up the second tour on the South Pacific. We had been relieved, and we were headed home and we got into Sasebo, Japan. I think it was like the 26th or 27th of June of 1950, and that was our last stop before coming home. Everything stopped and we were sent back to sea and told about a place called Korea that I had never heard of before. The North had marched on the South, and everybody was all up in arms about this. We all kind of scratched our heads, and said, "So what?" But, anyway, in about two or three days we were the first ship on the scene. Our orders were to fire at will which we picked out targets of opportunity to do until the main bulk of the fleet headed by the flagship, Philippine Sea, as I remember, could get up there and we formed a task force. Some three and a half months later we ran into a mine field in Wonson Harbor and the bow was blown off of the ship and we were in the water for awhile. Eventually we were all sent back to Japan where we were processed and sent home on survivor leave.
LaVOY: Now, tell me, being bombed and put in the water, what were your reactions, your inner feelings about floating with possible sharks around?
MOORE: Well, there wasn't anything like that as far as sharks was concerned, but it was a kind of a sad deal because they sent two minesweepers after us . One was the USS Pelican which I remember quite well, and within sighting distance they also hit a mine. Those old minesweepers were built out of wood, and the entire ship exploded, and there weren't any survivors. The next one came after us and I've forgotten what the name of it was. Eventually our ship was salvaged and with a skeleton crew--I was not included in that--but with a skeleton crew they put a false bow back on the ship, and they eventually brought it back to the States. In the meantime I was already in Japan, had been processed, and I was on my way to Olathe, Kansas, transferring into the aviation portion of the Navy.
MOORE: I'll tell you a funny story about that. I was what they call Black Shoes in Deck Force. I always wanted to be in aviation, and I wanted to get into the aviation program through what they called the Ground Control Approach (GCA) program because I was a radarman as an enlisted man and I knew how to talk to airplanes and how to look at radars and all those types of things. Let me digress a minute. I had always put in a request to get into this aviation program, and you may recall earlier I said that they told me my rate was critical, and I had to go. The needs of the service and all that, and so I couldn't get an endorsement to give me what I needed to get into aviation because they needed me. So, the funny thing about it was that when we were in the water, and I was looking across the raft at my division officer, I said, "Well, there should not be any reason now why I can't be approved to go to Olathe, Kansas, for GCA school." He thought that maybe I ought to be thinking about (laughing) getting out of the water first before I thought about that, but the only thing that was on my mind was, "Hey, looks like it's my chance to get out of this now and get into aviation," and that's how it happened.
LaVOY: What was your rate at that point in time?
MOORE: At that time I was a First Class Radarman. They have different names for them now, but that's what they were called at that time.
LaVOY: Well, here you were a young single man, plucked out of the water and chosen to go to Olathe, Kansas, and tell me what at Olathe you found.
MOORE: Well, I also wanted to get back because I'd been going with my wife for about four and half years and I'd only seen her a few months out of all that time.
LaVOY: She was your girlfriend?
MOORE: Yeah, and I thought it'd be kind of nice to marry her. (laughing) So, anyway, I got back into San Diego and I had a set of orders to go to Olathe, Kansas, and so away I went!
LaVOY: But you didn't marry her before you went to Olathe?
MOORE: No. No. When I got out of school in Olathe, Kansas-quite a lengthy school-- I graduated number one in my class. I had a choice of orders, and they thought they were doing me a favor by giving me a set of orders to San Diego, and I said, "Well, I don't really want to go to San Diego because that's where my family is and that's where Marg's family is, and if we're going to get married, we're not going to start anywhere around the family." So I traded with the guy who was number two. He had a set of orders to Naval Air Station in Glenview, Illinois, and that's how we wound up in Glenview, and that's where our first two children were born at the Great Lakes Naval Hospital.
LaVOY: Well, now, after you graduated you came back to California.
MOORE: On leave. I had re-enlisted and I had re-enlistment leave. I had about three hundred bucks in my pocket which I thought was all the money in the world and bought a new car in which I had an accident on the way home. Marg hadn't seen my new Chevrolet yet, and when she finally saw it why it had a gray fender and a green grill and all other types of things until such time as we could get it fixed properly, but we went on the honeymoon that way.
LaVOY: Where were you married?
MOORE: San Diego.
LaVOY: What church?
MOORE: We were married in Point Loma at the Point Loma Church.
LaVOY: Oh, how very nice. All right, now you're starting your married life in Great Lakes.
MOORE: Well, I had never met Marg's family, other than her brother and her sister, I should hasten to add, her brother introduced me to her, but we went to Canada on the honeymoon for me to meet Marg's side of the family. Grandpa, Grandma. Marg's mother and father had died before we were married so we went up there and visited aunts and uncles. Had a gay old time. In the meantime, Glenview, Illinois, is a small little town close to another small little town called Wauconda, Illinois, and I rented a house there for Marg and me. When I went to look at it, it was a neat little bungalow and two bedrooms, living room, bath, nicely furnished. So, I was telling Marg all about this on the honeymoon. Telling her all about this place we're going to live. When we finally got there and pulled in, our landlord, Mr. Goocher--we'll never forget him-he was the only thing in the house, standing on a ladder fixing the light bulbs in the living room. That's the first time I realized that I had not rented a furnished house, so I brought my new bride into an empty house. I didn't own a bed, a chair. I had nothing. So Mr. Goocher found some stuff in his basement and loaned it to us until such time as we could start buying our own stuff, and we went from that little place--it was probably about six hundred square feet and we owned about two chairs, to where we are now. (laughing)
LaVOY: (laughing) I often think the people that served during and after World War II in Korea had real hard living and modern young people just will not live that way. It's really rather too bad. Now, after you finished at Glenview…
MOORE: Well, when I was at Glenview I was promoted to Chief Petty Officer, and subsequently I was promoted again at Glenview to Warrant Officer. When I was promoted from enlisted status to officer status I had an immediate set of orders to the USS Lake Champlain which was a carrier then operating in the Mediterranean. I remember that set of orders so well because as an enlisted man you used to get a set of orders that would say, "Report to the such-and-such a receiving ship for further transfer." You knew exactly where you're going to go. Like you were directed, point A, point B, point C. Never had to worry about it. I got that first set of orders as an officer, and it says, "Report to the USS Lake Champlain in whichever port she may be," and that's all it said. I didn't have a clue where to start. But with help of my division officer why we finally determined that this ship was operating in the Mediterranean, and that's a whole new story about me getting to that ship.
MOORE: They say, "If you have time to spare, go by air." Since the ship was in the Mediterranean, Marg's aunt and uncle had offered to let Marg and the children stay with them in San Diego until such time as I got back off the cruise and we knew what we were doing. I had plenty of time to go to--I had a flight out of McGuire Air Force Base that I was to get to, to take me directly to a Mediterranean port. I believe it was Naples, Italy, in order to pick up the ship. We came back from Disneyland with the kids, after being down in San Diego and I had a telegram telling me to report to the Lake Champlain immediately, and I had no idea what was going on. So I started trying to figure out how to do all this, and I got a flight out of Miramar [California], took me to Olathe, Kansas, of all places. I couldn't get out of Olathe, Kansas, so I took a commercial airliner to New Jersey, and when I got to New Jersey, I got to McGuire Air Force Base, and the flight that I was scheduled to go on had been cancelled. The Air Force no longer flew that route. In my orders it also said to report to the ship in whichever port it may be but to keep your old and new commanding officer advised. So being to the letter of the law--I wouldn't do that now, I might hasten to add, I'd a had a good time making this trip knowing what I know now. But then I called and let the new CO and the old CO know where I was. I sent messages where I was. Well, they didn't know how to get me to Naples, but they thought that they could get me to these various other places, and so I said, "Okay." My first stop was in Tripoli. I got to Tripoli, and the guy says, "Well, we can't really get you to Naples from here, but we can get you to Germany, and Germany flies a hop out of there twice a week over to Naples." So, I said, "Well, that's fine." I finally got to Germany, and when I got to Germany, the guy says, "Hey, this is the end of the line. We don't go there. The thing for you to do is to go right back to Tripoli 'cause they have a bigger station, and they go more places." So I got back on the plane, went back to Tripoli. I had time to look Libya over for a couple of days. End result was that when I finally arrived in--I got the embassy flight to Rome and then I took a train from Rome to Naples and I got into Naples about midnight and I went up to headquarters there, and checked in. All this time now I'm sending these messages back and forth to the new CO and the old CO. "This is where I am." So when I got there, the duty officer says, "Well, here's the hotel that we use. Why don't you go down there and get a good night's sleep." In the meantime you've got to realize, my laundry was dirty, my uniforms needed cleaning, and I said, "Hey, I gotta get turned in here." Said, "Okay." I went down to the hotel, and I got into the hotel about one o'clock in the morning and, lo and behold, they said, yeah, they could take care of all of this for me by eight o'clock tomorrow morning, so they did. Then when I got up to Naples at the headquarters they sent me then through regular processing. The personnel officer there says, "Hey, anybody here know where the Champ is?" The USS Lake Champlain where I was headed. "Oh, yes, she got underway this morning."
LaVOY: (laughing) Oh, no.
MOORE: From Naples, mind you. Instead of going to the hotel, I could have gone right down there, got aboard the ship. "Where's it headed?" "Thessalonica, Greece." So I'm looking at this guy, and I say, "How the hell do I get to Thessalonica, Greece?" He says, "Well, when the ship gets out far enough we'll start sending COD flights; carrier on board delivery flights is what they were called. They used old Tem torpedo planes [Torpedo Bomber] and said, "We'll get you out to the ship." "Okay." So, they strapped me in the torpedo bucket. In those days where they used to carry the torpedo they had put passenger seats down in there. Lake Champlain was about a three, four-hour flight out there. Just nothing but water. And when we got to the Lake Champlain, there was a AD [Attack Aircraft] which was a propeller-driven attack aircraft, and it was nose up on the flight deck area on fire and there was another AD in the water, so we were diverted to the USS Intrepid. So I made my first carrier landing on the Intrepid. Later on that day or the following day, a little hazy now, got close enough where the Lake Champlain could send a helicopter for me, and they did, and I reported in finally.
LaVOY: Jim, what year was this?
MOORE: That would have been 1955 when I reported aboard, and I was aboard the Lake Champlain as a Warrant Officer from 1955 to 1956 when I was promoted to Ensign. Went to knife and fork school in Newport, Rhode Island, and subsequently was assigned to my first aviation squadron, and I went to Airborne Early Warning Squadron Three, which was home ported on Guam and took my wife and family with me. We stayed there for three years.
LaVOY: Then from Guam where did you go?
MOORE: Wow! When I left Guam I had a set of orders to the Naval Auxiliary Air Station which was a subsidiary of Alameda [California] in Fallon, Nevada, and I had no clue where that was, and I could have a hard time finding Fallon on the map, so we left there knowing in advance--let me back up just a minute. When I was in the squadron I had an aviation maintenance officer that I worked for who was in Fallon, and having remembered that, I called. That's when we found out that, I wasn't senior enough to get a house by that time I was a Lieutenant JG. There was about six officers' houses in the whole air station and a spattering of enlisted housing. There was about five or six places in Shangri-La they used to call it--it's gone now--where they rented houses to Navy people, and I was on the list for that. Knowing that I didn't have any place to come to, I took Marg back to her aunt and uncle's in San Diego, and I jumped in the car and I drove up old Highway 50, and I got to Carson City, and then I came on down. I got to what is Silver Springs. I didn't know it was Silver Springs then, but it was starting to get a little dark, and I wasn't quite sure where Fallon was. There wasn't any road signs telling me, and the only place that had any lights on in Silver Springs was a bar. I walked into that bar, and I asked them where NAS Fallon was, and the guy told me that NAS Fallon was about eighteen, twenty miles on down the road. I was so thankful because I was afraid that I was going to be stuck in some place like Silver Springs. So I drove on in that night and checked into the BOQ at the Naval Auxiliary Air Station, Fallon, Nevada. My first tour.
LaVOY: Describe to me what the base was like at that point in time.
MOORE: Well, there wasn't anything at the base as we know it now in 1995. Couple of short runways, two hangars, and they were wooden, hanger one and hanger two. Administration buildings were all in wooden buildings, and they were all over on what would be the southeastern side of the air station as we know it today. Everything was over there on that one side, and the main gate was on Berney Road, and that was the only gate there was going in and going out. The only thing that's really still like it was today as it was when I first got here was the May Ranch. [End of Tape 1 Side A} The May Ranch was the commanding officer's home when I first got here, and it's still that today. You know, it belonged to the May Company, and he leased it to the federal government for a dollar a year or however it is that they do those things. Originally the May Ranch was a hunting lodge for May [Wilbur May) and his people. So that became the commanding officer's quarters, and then there were three little houses out there as well where the caretakers of the May Ranch stayed. They were later converted into rental units, and that's where our three doctors lived at the time. Now mind you there wasn't any construction or anything like that that was going on in the way of Navy housing and it was almost virtually impossible to get a place to live in Fallon. Everything was over there on the old side. There was an old swimming pool that had been refurbished. The old swimming pool was pretty well cracked and in a state of disrepair because it had been used in ranching operations with both cattle and pigs. But that had been restored to where it at least held water, and that was some place a guy could go and cool off in the summertime. It was an outdoor pool.
LaVOY: Now, may I ask, was it used as a dipping bath for the cattle and pigs?
MOORE: I had heard that. I had heard that. Well, then, I gotta tell probably the second day I had to get a pass for my car from the security, so I drove down to security building. It was an old one-room little wooden shack out there by the main gate, and I also had a check-in sheet that had to be signed off by all the officers. That was a way that they got to know you. The security officer was Lieutenant Commander Jack Hoy. He was a reserve officer. Most of the officers at the facility when I got there were reserve officers. That's nothing against the reserve officer. I just bring that out being a dyed-in-the-wool regular for so many years. Anyway, I'd always kind of been pretty regulation and was watching my uniform, my dress, my grooming, and while I was waiting for the security officer, Lt. Cdr. Hoy finally come riding up on a horse. He had a pair of khaki uniform pants on and big cowboy boots, a cloth flight jacket, and a cowboy hat. He walked in and I was introduced to him as the security officer, and I was wondering at that time after having been in the Navy for a few years, even though I was just a Lieutenant JG, who had I made mad at me that gave me a set of orders to the Naval Auxiliary Air Station in Fallon, Nevada?
LaVOY: I can understand that. (laughing)
MOORE: So then it happened that I was assigned as the assistant air craft maintenance officer, and I went to work for this officer that I had known before who wasn't my boss on Guam but he was in the same squadron and then he became my boss.
LaVOY: And his name?
MOORE: His name, M.E. Drain. He was a Lieutenant Commander. Then they had a rather bad accident at the aircraft fuel farm. They had a fire. Some people were hurt, and the commanding officer, who was Captain Olson at that time, decided that they needed an officer to run that fuel farm. So they transferred me from the aircraft maintenance department to the fuel farm which was run by the supply department, and I became the only line officer in the supply department. My new boss and department head was the commander supply officer. So Gary McCloud then became my new boss, and I stayed there until such time as I finally got transferred a couple of years later. Now let me digress a minute. I should tell you that the Air Force had radar site that was connected to the DEW [Distant Early Warning] Line that they ran from here all the way up to Alaska and back, and they had a detachment here. A squadron, they called themselves. A radar squadron, and they had a commanding officer who was a lieutenant colonel later. He was a major at the time. Lieutenant Colonel Schutte, I think his name was. They had a group of officers and men that were just absolutely fantastic people. They joined in every activity that we had on the Naval Air Station. They supported the Naval Air Station, and the Air Force, you know, even to this day, as I understand it, they never seem to suffer for funds, and they had beautiful housing to live in. It was something just to go by and see with real lawns and shrubbery and all that type of thing.
LaVOY: Jim, where were these Air Force quarters that you're raving about?
MOORE: Well, they were over on the south side at that time, and, as a matter of fact, they're still there today. You can go over there and see. I would not say that they're as nice and as modernistic as they were thirty, forty years ago when I came here in 1960. Thirty-five years ago, I guess. But they were very nice, and they are still kept up quite nice, and, also, they had a small gymnasium that we would go over and use every once in a while. I should also tell you that part of this command that Major Schutte had, he had a contingent of Canadian Air Force officers.
LaVOY: Marg must have been very happy having some fellow Canadians there.
MOORE: Yeah. I don't know. They were kind of young bachelors. I don't remember that they had any company officers down here from Canada. I think they were all here on their own.
LaVOY: What were they doing here?
MOORE: Well, they're all part of the DEW Line that the Air Force was here for. DEW Line as I recall was Defense Early Warning that was spread across the whole nation at that time, particularly up into Alaska and the Bering Sea which is right close to Russia. They tracked aircraft and what have you.
LaVOY: Now, Jim, something that I'm rather curious about. The town of Fallon, did the residents accept you people at that time?
MOORE: Gotta be honest with you and tell you that I don't think that they did. Ranchers and farmers didn't like the idea that Naval Air Station, Fallon was out there. I don't know that they didn't like us as individuals, but as a group of people from the Naval Air Station we were really isolated. People just kind of thought that they could make it here on agriculture and livestock and whatever and that the Air Station was kind of a thorn in their side, that we brought problems to their town. We brought crime to their town, their schools were overloaded with our children. I'm not so sure that any of them understood then, a lot of them don't understand today that they're compensated for every military child that they have in their school system and have been from the time that I first arrived here.
LaVOY: Do you think that maybe there was a little resentment because the ranchers had to sell their ranches to the base?
MOORE: I don't think that that was an issue in this time frame that we're talking about. I could tell you now that I had two more tours at Fallon which we'll cover probably a little bit later in the proper sequence, but at that time the Air Station is just like you see it today as far as where the fenced area is. At that time they didn't have the bombing ranges and all of the things that we do now. This was just a field. We did support training aircraft. We used to have a couple of towers out there on the bombing ranges as we know them today, and they used to spot targets by triangulation and that type of thing. But it wasn't sophisticated like it is today.
LaVOY: Did you ever in your wildest dreams think it would be as big as it is today?
MOORE: Yes. I knew that. Not when I left here the first time. When I left here the first time, I was happy.
LaVOY: That'd be 1962?
MOORE: It was 1963, and I remember that happiness was Fallon in my rearview mirror, and I left here, and I was headed towards Norfolk, Virginia, where I was going to go into carrier squadron. I arrived into that squadron in 1963, but let me get back to the Fallon situation. I was kind of upset with some of the things that happened, particularly where our children were concerned because they weren't welcomed, in my opinion, into the Boy Scout troops that were in Fallon, the Cub Scout troops that were in Fallon, the Little League that was getting underway, to the point that I organized the Boy Scout troop and the Cub Scout troop at the Air Station, and we had just our own kids there. We would then, of course, have competition with other scouts and troops and they would look down their nose at us because our kids kind of excelled, and they would blame it upon the military regimented life that these children led. In order to get Little League going I volunteered for and became an officer of the Little League which was sanctioned, I don't know where, Pennsylvania or someplace. The Mayor and I opened the Little League season here that year, and I was a speaker as well as he, and we integrated our boys into the Little League. Since then we've also done a lot of things in the Little League. Where the Little League field is now and even where the high school baseball team plays now, that announcer's tower and the dugouts and all that were done by our Seabees from the Naval Air Station and given to the city.
LaVOY: May I ask who was the mayor at the time?
MOORE: Merton Domonoske.
LaVOY: So you literally started Little League in Fallon?
MOORE: Well, I had a big part in it. I became an officer in the Little League in order to integrate our boys into it. Our guys were just not being accepted, and I just felt that it was kind of necessary, and things like that used to bother me.
LaVOY: Were your children bussed from the base to the schools?
MOORE: Yup. They went to Northside and West End and Cottage. I think they went to all of them at one time because of the differences in ages, and three of them graduated from Churchill County High School before going onto the University in Reno [UNR].
LaVOY: Well, you were so glad to see Fallon in your rearview mirror, and you went east, when did you return to Fallon?
MOORE: Oh, well, I went to a carrier squadron and I deployed on the USS Forrestal and then the Enterprise, which as you may remember, was the first nuclear carrier that we ever had, and I happened to be part of that crew. We made a world cruise demonstrating nuclear power. We went around the world kind of nonstop. We made one stop in Karachi [India], and we made a stop in Australia and then we made a stop in Rio de Janeiro [Brazil] along with the Bainbridge and the Long Beach. They were the only three nuclear ships in our Navy. I stayed in that job until 1966. From 1963 to 1966 I was in the carrier squadron.
LaVOY: And where did Marge stay?
MOORE: In Norfolk. We bought a home in Norfolk, Virginia, and then I got a set of orders out of there. I made Lieutenant Commander, as a matter of fact, in that squadron, and I got a set of orders out of there to Monterey [California]. I went to Monterey as an officer in charge of the ground control approach unit which is where I started my very first tour as an enlisted man getting into aviation. So I became the officer in charge of the unit. Three officers and about twenty, twenty-five men, something like that. Then in 1968 I left that job in Monterey, and I was assigned then as the Flag Secretary and later Personal Aide to a couple of Admirals. They were both carrier division commanders. I became the aide to Admiral House and later to Admiral Talley, and we embarked on the Independence and the USS Saratoga and again the Forrestal. In 1970 I got a set of orders for the Naval Auxiliary Air Station Fallon, Nevada. Second tour, and I was a Lieutenant Commander this time, and I was assigned as the Target Range Officer. That's when I became intimately familiar with the target ranges as we know them today, and at that time we were really starting to provide a lot more training services to fleet aircraft who flew from San Diego and Alameda and Miramar, various air stations. They didn't deploy at that time as air wings. Later on they did. But they didn't deploy then. They'd just come up as a squadron. They'd do their thing, and many, many times what they'd do--and they still do today--is that they would have a mission that would come out of Lemoore, for instance. Comes up here, bomb, land, refuel, and go back to their home base. Do all that in one day.
LaVOY: Well, how had the base changed then in the ten years since you'd been there?
MOORE: Well, then we had a tower. A real tower. (laughing) The runway was extended to the longest Navy runway in the world. I've forgotten the exact dimensions of that now, but at that time it was and may still be the longest runway there was. We were also a fueling stop again for Air Force planes that were flying their missions all up on this DEW Line, and I came back as a Target Range Officer. I conceived of the Moving Land Target which is now a very sophisticated system. At that time it was just an old Volkswagon frame, and we had it radio-controlled, and we could run it around. We could put anything we wanted to on it and run it all over the desert and let the airplanes try to hit it. They still use that today, as I say, in quite a more sophisticated scoring device than the old thing. Randy Banovich, who is the son of Dave Banovich who was the sheriff, worked out there at the time in a civilian capacity, and he built that thing from the ground up for me. We put it on a trailer and we took it down to the testing grounds at China Lake where they sophisticated it even more as far as the radio controls were concerned; but the Moving Land Target was born at Naval Air Station Fallon. Captain at that time was Captain Walt Alldredge, and he was later relieved by Boyd Muncie, famous Captain Muncie who was a legend in his day. And I was, as I say, the Target Range Officer, was later promoted to Commander and took over the Operations Department and upon the retirement of Commander Stan Dunton the Executive Officer who retired without a relief on board, I relieved him for a short while as the Executive Officer. That's my first taste of being the Executive Officer.
LaVOY: Did you and your family live on the base during this tour?
MOORE: Yes, we did. Let me go back and tell you a little bit about the housing. They finally came through. They finally built Capehart housing, and since I was one of the early ones there in 1960, I was one of the first guys on the housing list waiting houses to be built, and Marg and I were moved into the first one that was completed. On the next tour that we were here, we were the first family moved into Turnkey which was a brand-new housing project. We went from one new house, came back, moved into another new house, and the third tour which we'll get to later, I came back and I was moved into the Executive Officer's quarters which is probably, in my opinion, the finest house out there and still used. It's Captain's quarters now. We had to wait a long time to get our first house. We lived in Shrangri-La. We rented it. When I say "rented it" it's not like they do Navy housing where they take your money and take your allowance. As a matter of fact, I begged them in the early days to take my housing allowance and just give me the house, but it wasn't working that way. We had to pay rent and the utility bills were absolutely atrocious, and I could hardly afford as a young Lieutenant JG to live in their own government quarters, but they've all since been demolished. You know, those homes were moved up here from Hawthorne [Nevada]. They were kinda like a fabricated home today and put together. But then we were the first ones into Capehart. The first new quarters occupied. We were the first new quarters occupied in Turnkey, and then we were the second family that ever lived in the Executive Officer's quarters.
LaVOY: Well, now, that's very interesting. There's a little story that I've heard. Didn't you build a new swimming pool or something during that tour?
MOORE: Yeah. Let me tell you about swimming pools. I was here three tours, and I got three stories about swimming pools. Three different swimming pools. The first one I've already alluded to was the old one that was cracking cement and had been used for livestock and what have you and was finally restored and that was the only thing that we had. Then the officers decided that they would like to build a swimming pool at the officer's club. We were turned down repeatedly for funds from Special Services and from the recreation fund, but at that time Captain Muncie had taken command, and he wanted a new swimming pool, and he decided that, "Well, we could do this if we did the work ourselves. All officer labor would build that swimming pool from start to finish." By that time we were starting to receive air wings, but it was quite a long spell of time between air wings. Like maybe six weeks, maybe three months, and so he decided that in probably the hottest summer that I can ever remember that we were going to dig this big hole.
LaVOY: Now, was this behind what is now the Silver State Club?
MOORE: That's correct. We got the backhoes down there. We had all the officers there. Everybody had to show up for work duty, and we used to have sandwiches over there and cold drinks and what have you, and we got this hole dug. We got everything all in order, and we worked on it and worked on it.
LaVOY: What did you use to dig it?
MOORE: Backhoes. Well, I should tell you that we had two Seabee guys that worked the backhoes for us, and we paid them, but the Civil Engineering officers, worked free like all the rest of us. The only service that we had to pay for on that whole deed was the gunnite. We had to have that sprayed in by an outside company, and everybody had to report to work there everyday, and that's where we'd go.
LaVOY: After your duty?
MOORE: We worked at the swimming pool, and when you had time you'd check on your duties.
LaVOY: Oh. (laughing)
MOORE: Swimming pool was top priority. Captain Muncie was going to have a swimming pool, and that's all there was to it. So we reported every day. All exceptin' for the Protestant Chaplain who never could make it to work detail because he always had to go somewhere. He had to visit the Veteran's Administration Hospital, and he had to visit here and visit there. He just somehow or other never worked on that swimming pool. And once it was finally filled with water, for the first time, we could cure the gunnite. It had to stay full of water for quite some spell until it was cured and then emptied and refilled. And I do not recall that Chaplain's name. Well, the name's really not important, but he made the mistake of coming over one afternoon in his whites. Nice, starched pressed whites.
LaVOY: This was after the pool had been opened?
MOORE: No, the pool's not open. It was just filled with water to cure the gunnite. Dirty, dirty water, and he came up alongside Captain Muncie and said something. Words to the effect that, "Boy! You all have just done a great job here!" and with that Captain Muncie pushed him into the pool, uniform and all, and said, "Well, see what you think of it." We all thought that was probably poetic justice. We'd worked a long time on that swimming pool, and I didn't mention that, first, all the officers had to go there to work. I mean it was a work detail, but there were also dependent wives that came over and helped as well. One of those that I remember very well was, then her name was Bonnie Allen who had later married Ken Hammon. She was there to help us with that swimming pool along with a lot of other wives. And, oh, I should tell you that the Air Force was still here at the time, and they were working on that swimming pool as well. They weren't ordered to like we were, but everybody had a hand in that. Bonnie was married to a young lieutenant who had also come to Fallon from Guam about the same time that I did. That was swimming pool number two. We finally got that swimming pool on line, and then we had a large barbecue or luau or something like that to celebrate this swimming pool, and everybody came in their swimming gear, and we had a beautiful party out there and really just had a great time. I should tell you that Captain Muncie was a very strong-willed man. He was probably one of the commanding officers of the many that I had in thirty-four years in the Navy that I will never forget.
MOORE: When I went up to become the Executive Officer on that tour after being promoted to Commander and relieving Stan Dunton, he wanted a swimming pool for the crew or all the enlisted men, and we had a place to put it. We wanted to put it out there between the old BOQ [Bachelor Officer's Quarters] and sickbay and the enlisted club. But we could not get that funded either. We sent lots of requests going back and forth to the recreation fund to try to get funds to try to get money to build that. Stated our case about how isolated we were out there. That there wasn't anything really for the troops to do in their off time. We didn't have anything. There wasn't any baseball fields. There wasn't any tennis courts and those type of things that we know out there then, and he wanted this swimming pool bad, but he could never get approval. Well, you may remember when we were talking earlier, I said that I was a personal aide to Admiral Talley when he was a Commander of Carrier Division Four. Admiral Talley was now Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Pacific Fleet headquartered in Hawaii where all of these requests went through for an endorsement. Well, Muncie remembered that I had been Admiral Talley's aide, and he put the pressure on me. I gotta tell you. He really did to where I finally called Admiral Talley personally on the telephone and explained my case and what we wanted for these men and that we wanted a swimming pool that I felt, in my opinion, we really needed a swimming pool and we wanted a first-class order. [End of Tape 1.] The request was approved and funds were appropriated. The swimming pool was not started until I left Fallon. I had been command screened by that time, and I was on my way to my own command, and I didn't see the pool started so I can only talk to the completed pool that I saw when I came back a third time. We'll get to that, too. This is a great pool, and it's got a roof that electrically opens and lets the sunlight in and there's big decks and places to relax around it. It's fenced. It sits up on a hill, and, as I say, I really feel--I'm not soliciting any credit for that, but had it not been for me and my relationship with Admiral Talley they'd never seen that swimming pool at the time they got it. It may have come down later on, but not at that time. So I was kind of proud of that. Maybe I oughta back up a minute there and just say that it was a type of a project that I felt quite proud of even though I was kind of reluctant to call the Admiral to start on. When it finally came down there I really felt kind of good about the whole thing.
LaVOY: Well, now, something that I want to ask. Did Captain Muncie retire shortly thereafter?
MOORE: Captain Muncie retired after I had gone. I was on my way to a squadron at that time. Let me kind of cover that a little bit. Kind of an interesting story. Captain Muncie and I used to go across the street just about every afternoon to the Officer's Club. Officer's Club at that time consisted of a bar and about eight stools and a television set that hung up on the wall where the news would come on in the afternoon. There was a lady who used to come on that television named Betty Stoddard. Captain Muncie literally became enamored with Betty Stoddard though he'd never met her. Never talked to her, never seen her, but he became enamored with her on that television, and he'd listen there to her talk about all the things that she used to advertise. One Friday night, he was headed to Reno as one of the guests for Navy League Chapter in Reno. When he got there, he met Betty Stoddard, and I guess it was a whirlwind. I don't know what all happened after that except that here I was his Executive Officer, and I had no clue where he was on Saturday or Sunday or Monday. I was really getting worried because I didn't quite know what to do. Not one word. Had no idea where to go to try to find him or anything else, but on Tuesday he finally contacted me, and he let me know that he had finally met Betty Stoddard which many people in this community now know as Betty Stoddard Muncie, and they were subsequently married. Marg was, how do I say this, as the Executive Officer's wife since Boyd Muncie was not married, she was kind of the first lady of the Naval Air Station, and Boyd loved her. Absolutely loved Marg, and so Marg was at the wedding sitting in the first pew on Muncie's side (laughing) of the aisle. I was deployed at the time, but I believe my daughter went with Marg, and they attended that wedding.
LaVOY: It was in Reno, was it not?
MOORE: It was here, but they later had a reception in Virginia City. He was married to Betty right here in the chapel at the Naval Air Station.
LaVOY: Oh, I didn't realize that.
MOORE: I told you awhile ago that he was very strong willed. Let me go back and tell you that all the commanding officers that I had worked for in previous tours, right up to and including Muncie always wanted to make this a Naval Air Station. Every commanding officer I can remember, tried to make this a Naval Air Station as opposed to a Naval Auxiliary Air Station, and nobody could ever do it. Except Boyd. Boyd was respected and hated both in high places, and everybody in the Navy during his time frame knew who Boyd Muncie was. I don't know all the inner workings and telephone calls and meetings and all that, but, by golly, I'm here to tell you that he is the one that made this a Naval Air Station, and we had one of the largest ceremonies that you ever saw. Admirals, visiting dignitaries from all over, that came here. Then by that time we had a new hangar over on this side. When I say "this side", I'm talking about the north side of the field now where things have started to move over to, and we opened up the air station to the whole world. In that hangar we had the ceremonies that designated it from a Naval Auxiliary Air Station to a Naval Air Station. Traffic control, crowd control, parking was a nightmare, but we got through it.
LaVOY: Were there many Fallon residents at that function?
MOORE: Yeah, there was quite a few people. There's kind of the blue book of Fallon that always got invited to whatever functions that we were having. Domonoskes, for instance, were always on the lists. The Ernst families were there. I can't remember all of them now. They really liked being invited to all these different functions of Fallon. Social type. I should also tell you that when I came back on my second tour, I found that the relationships between the Fallonites and the base I had seen over that ten-year absence, a marked improvement. There was still some concern that the base was going to continue to grow, and that the housing would be placed in the city of Fallon, and there was some concern that this was going to absolutely disrupt the entire sewer system for Fallon, Nevada. People weren't informed of how the Navy works. We build our own houses. We put in our own sewer system. We put in our wells. There are two wells out there that service the Air Station and Fallon. They probably produce more water than the city of Fallon does. We were completely self-contained, but there were these worries and rumors. I don't know how many times I've heard over the years that this air station is going to be closed. Every time you'd turn around, "this air station's going to be closed." And I've maintained steadily from my second to my last tour here that this air station would never be closed. I think it's now come to pass that people realize that with the Strike University here and now the Air Station is under the command of a two-star Admiral and where this thing has progressed to this point. I was in on the original planning stages of all this, and I enjoyed being able to see all the things that have happened when I had the distinct impression that I was writing to, and talking to, deaf ears in the Navy chain of command. So I'm pretty happy that we did become a full-fledged Naval Air Station. Muncie married his television sweetheart, and I got a set of orders to be a commanding officer and all of those various things happened on my second tour and it was pretty nice.
LaVOY: Now, something that I just wanted to ask you about, I imagine that you were very upset with Captain Muncie's death. You were not in this area, I don’t believe, were you?
MOORE: No, I was deployed in Vietnam at that time with my squadron. I guess maybe everybody has their theories on it, and I'm not an expert in this, except let me tell you this. I have hunted many, many, many times with Boyd Muncie. We built a trap and skeet range because he wanted a place where he could shoot shotguns. We had a pistol range. I think the point I want to make is there wasn't anything, and this is my own opinion that I'm telling you, there wasn't anything that Captain Muncie didn't know about firearms. Nothing. And I've always been suspicious, from day one, when they said that he'd accidentally killed himself or however. I got the police reports and all that type of thing on it, or as much as was available to me as a private citizen. But, I've always kind of had a problem with that.
LaVOY: Well, it was indeed very tragic. Now, you finished your tour in 1973. Is that correct?
MOORE: Well, let's see. Let me just kind of get my memory jogged back here. I first came to Fallon, I think, in January of 1960, and I left three years later in January of 1963, and then I came back the second trip in September of 1970, and I stayed till August of 1972.
LaVOY: And then where'd you go from there?
MOORE: Well, I went to a training squadron and from there I went to what they call The Rag, a Replacement Air Group training. They were intermediate steps to my squadron which was VAW 116, and, again, they were already in Vietnam on the Constellation. Here is another set of orders to report to my squadron on the USS Constellation in whichever port she may be, and that one worked a lot smoother. I got a commercial flight to the Philippines at Manilla, and from there down at Subic Point, and at Subic Point I picked up another COD and was flown out to the Constellation. I became the commanding officer in April, 1974, and I stayed in that job until I came back to Fallon now the third trip as the Operations Officer slated to be the Executive Officer. I came back in July of 1975.
LaVOY: Now, did you request to come back, or was it just the way the chips fell?
MOORE: Let me tell ya'. I told you one time that happiness was Fallon in my rearview mirror, and, in all honesty, I gotta tell you I kind of still feel that way a lot. I love it when Marg and I jump in our motorhome and take off on long extended vacations. But when I was the Commanding Officer of VAW 116 out in Vietnam I was getting close to orders and we didn't get much mail delivery in those days. I didn't quite know what they had in store for me, and I'd quite prided myself at the time with never having had to do a Washington, D.C. tour, and I'm scared to death of Washington, D.C. Sooner or later I was going to get caught up in that. So I climbed up to 30,000 feet one night, and I had a pretty sophisticated airplane and I put a call through Marg via the MARS [military radio network] network at Anderson Air Force Base. I called from, like I say, from 30,000 feet over Vietnam to MARS station at Guam, and they relayed it to Marg. I was able to patch in and talk to her, and we discussed orders where we wanted to go, and Marg said she wanted to go back to Fallon. (laughing) I was almost speechless. I said, "What?" Yeah, she loved Fallon. Fallon was a nice place. We still had Tommy at home, and it was just a good place to raise kids and all that kind of stuff, so I said, well, let me see what I could do. Couldn't talk very long under the circumstances. So a couple of nights later, on another night hop, why I ziggied back there to 30,000, called MARS again, put me to my detailer who was Commander Guiliani, later Captain Guiliani, later Commanding Officer of the Naval Air Station Fallon, Nevada, whose direct quote to me was, "Jim, nobody in their right mind wants to go to Fallon." And then he says, "You've been there before." I said, "Twice before." And he says, "You sure you want this?" And I says, "Yeah, this is what I want." So, subsequently, we got a set of orders back to Fallon. As a sidelight, Guiliani later admitted that he fought tooth and nail to come to Fallon as its commanding officer, and he was a good one.
LaVOY: Now, he was commanding officer whose brother is now the mayor of New York City.
MOORE: Is it his brother? I don't know that it's his brother, but it's in his family, it very well might be, but Len Guiliani is one of the finest Naval officers I ever met, and he's retired in the Lemoore, California area. I think he still works in defense somehow or other or a contractor or something along that line.
LaVOY: Now, something that I missed out throughout this interview. I did not realize you are a pilot?
MOORE: No, I'm a Naval flight officer.
LaVOY: Explain that.
MOORE: Well, as a Naval flight officer, you're in charge of the weapons system, the radar system.
LaVOY: So, when you were at the 30,000 feet, you were handling the radar?
MOORE: That's correct. Well, I was probably in the copilot seat. I'd fly a lot of times as copilot in the E1B [Grummond airborne early warning aircraft]. As Commanding Officer that was my prerogative to do whatever I wanted to do with the exception of taking it off and bringing it aboard the carrier. I would take off as a copilot to one of my Naval aviator officers.
LaVOY: I see. Now, you have orders back to Fallon, and this is 1970 what?
MOORE: Oh, let's see, this was 1975. I came back, and meantime there was a Commander Tommy Thompson who was the Executive Officer, and he wasn't yet to be relieved, so they put me back in the Operations Department, and I was the Operations Officer until such time as Tommy retired and then I took over as Executive Officer. From that time until the time I decided to retire, and I retired from Fallon on that last tour of duty.
LaVOY: Now, were you getting a lot of complaints on this last tour about the noise of the planes?
MOORE: Always. We always got noise complaints and low-flying planes and all that. That reminds me. I got to tell you this story about some people who lived out near Pioneer Road which is in the vicinity of Bravo 16. We were always getting complaints about noise, but I got this complaint this one time, and this lady had called, and she was very upset with us. She said, "It goes on and on and on," and that she had a young boy who had a hearing problem, and this was aggravating that problem, and it was just unbearable. Well, I have to tell you that a lot of times people who don't understand military operations and understand aircraft will think that something is right down on top of them when in actuality it really isn't, it’s just because of the noise factor and the jet aircraft. 'Cause she told me about her son, I decided I'd make a trip out there myself. I usually sent a representative out, but on this particular day I took the senior medical officer with me, and we drove to this lady's house. Oh, yeah, I should tell you I took a bouquet of flowers with me to give to her, and we were on our way for me to offer her, on behalf of the Naval Air Station, an apology. I must tell you that the aircrafts involved were not from the Naval Air Station. They were deployed squadrons but they were pretty well briefed by me. Every time they came up here I warned them all, and I was not really convinced that these aircraft were as low as she was relating to me over the telephone. But, lo and behold, while I'm out there standing in her yard with the senior medical officer talking to her, two aircraft came over the top of her house that waved the branches in the tree and darned near took my hat off! And I have never been so personally embarrassed in my life.
LaVOY: (laughing) Did you get their numbers?
MOORE: Oh, I did a lot more than that, Marian. I don't know that we need to go into that, but I'll tell you those two men never flew at the Naval Air Station, Fallon again and one of them never flew a Navy airplane again. Those type of things are absolutely uncalled for.
LaVOY: Did they wilt the flowers with the low... (laughing)
MOORE: I don't know about that, but can you imagine trying to say anything after that? I mean, how I'm going to convince this lady that we're trying our best? There was nothing. I don't remember the final outcome of all of this excepting I got the tail numbers right away. I went to my sedan. In those days I had a sedan of my own that had radios. Everything you could think of. I called the tower, told them to recall those two aircraft immediately, and that those two pilots, their commanding officer, and their air wing commander were to meet in my office. They were to go to my office and stay there till I got there. I told this lady, "I'm at a loss for words. I don't know what to tell you except to tell you that there will be something done about this incident."
LaVOY: You didn't bother to find out if the child was deaf, hum?
MOORE: Well, you know what. I'm trying to think about that, but it seems to me we had a hearing test chamber on our air station, and it seems to me that the senior medical officer either offered her testing or actually did test the child. That's hazy in my mind. I don't quite recall that, but it was absolutely a waste of money buying flowers for the lady. That's for one thing for sure.
LaVOY: I can see your fangs hanging out by the time you got back to your office.
MOORE: Oh, I was absolutely livid. I guess that's part of the things that go with the job. Yeah, I sent the whole squadron home.
LaVOY: That is quite a punishment.
MOORE: Well, the whole squadron left till such time as the commanding officer could instill upon his people what they were supposed to do. Sometimes you got to, don't know, maybe that is kind of punishing all for the acts of a few, but I needed to get rid of that squadron right then and there to make an impression upon the rest of the people. We had hundreds of airplanes here. It was just like the time I had a reserve squadron come in here from Seattle [Washington). They all had hair down to their shoulders. They were weekend warriors, and they were coming here for two weeks of training, and from the officer in charge of that group down to the last guy they refused to get haircuts. They wouldn't get haircuts. I told them when they landed at the terminal, 'cause the terminal officer called me, and he said, "Commander, we got a problem." Grooming was foremost in Captain Muncie's head. As you might know or don't know, he was bald, and I guess everybody else was supposed to be about halfway bald, too, but anyway these guys were civilians, and they were coming on active duty for Navy training for two weeks. They had shoulder-length hair, pony tails, and all that type of thing in uniform, and so I went down. I got the officer in charge, told him what I wanted done, that the barber shop would be open immediately, and that they'd get their hair cut, and he said, "No, we won't." So I put them on the airplane and told the pilot take them back to Washington. I said, "Take them back." A little fallout there as you might imagine, and we got a call from the admiral and what have you, but we stuck to our guns, and I think that we were right in so doing.
LaVOY: Now, just a second, Jim. You'd mentioned Muncie. Now this is your third tour here. Was he still here at that time?
MOORE: Naw. When I got back, no, it was Captain Bauer, but Captain Muncie had instilled grooming on that air station, and it was just a holdover.
LaVOY: A slip of the tongue. You didn't mean Muncie. You meant Bauer.
MOORE: Yeah, that's right. That's correct.
LaVOY: Well, that's one of the most interesting stories I've heard in a long time. Now you and Marg, of course, were living in the large quarters at that point?
MOORE: When I became the executive officer and relieved Stan Dunton or Tommy Thompson, who-- I must correct something, Marian. When a guy comes to Fallon as many times as I have, you kind of get the tours all mixed up. The time I sent the reserves back for their grooming was on the second tour that I was here, and that was under Captain Muncie. I also made a mistake earlier when we were talking about the housing. I think I mentioned that when we were the first into Capehart, the first into Turnkey, and I think I said we were the second family to live in the executive officer's quarters. That's not right. That's an error. But, we finally did move in there when I became the exec on the third tour that I was here, and we enjoyed that home very much.
LaVOY: Now, your children by this time were pretty well finished with school, weren't they?
MOORE: Well, let's see, Mary was, I think, still at University, Steve had joined the Coast Guard, Tom was in high school. Jim had left the UNR and was working at various jobs before he finally wound up with Sierra Pacific Power Company where he is today.
LaVOY: So, basically, you only had one child at home on your third tour?
MOORE: Yeah, that was Tom.
LaVOY: He was attending the high school here?
MOORE: Right. He subsequently became All-State in the Churchill County baseball team and was given a scholarship to Idaho for a couple of years, and then he left and came back to UNR and graduated from UNR.
LaVOY: Did you retire from Fallon?
MOORE: My retirement ceremony was out in the parking lot next to the sick bay.
LaVOY: And when was this?
LaVOY: Tell me, do you feel from the time, 1960 to 1978 when you retired that the attitude of the Fallon people had changed completely about the base?
MOORE: Well, I had thought it had changed remarkably because maybe I saw things in a different perspective because of the job that I was now in. I was older, I was more senior, but I found it pretty tolerable, and a lot of us officers out there were invited to different functions in town. It wasn't a one-sided affair anymore where we did all the inviting. We had invitations to the social events that were taking place in Fallon and at various individual's homes.
LaVOY: Now, some things I'm curious about. When did they change the main gate from Berney Road to Pasture Road?
MOORE: I'm trying to remember when that might be. There's a handcarved set of wings that says, "NAS, Fallon" over the main gate. It was handcarved by a Lieutenant Commander Neuenswander, and he did it in his BOQ room, but that gate was never the main gate, but it has been there for quite sometime. I don't remember when Pasture Road became the main gate, but certainly when I was here the second time it was. But that gate out there on Berney was the main gate most of the time, and then they finally decided when they built all of the quarters over there, the new Capehart quarters, the new Turnkey quarters, that's where the bulk of the people lived, so it was only natural to come straight out of quarters into the air station. But that sign says, "NAS Fallon," [End of tape 2 side A] As I mentioned you come to Fallon so many times you kind of get your tours mixed up, but Neuenswander made that sign for the main gate when I was here under Captain Muncie. That would have been 1970 time frame. He made it in his BOQ by hand and presented it to the air station. Later on he was responsible for building houseboats which we kept out at Lake Lahontan, and they were for rent for the troops to use from the Recreation Department. We had a fleet of ski boats and skis and aquaplanes. We also had a little fleet of little camping trailers that they could rent particularly in the hunting season and things like that.
LaVOY: They still have the little trailers and a couple of boats, but I didn't realize they had houseboats.
MOORE: Oh, yeah, they had the houseboats.
LaVOY: He built them, did you say?
MOORE: Yeah. He was responsible for putting all those things together. He was the Recreation Officer, and he really thrived in that type of thing. I'm just trying to think of some other firsts that might include without getting all mixed up in my time frames.
LaVOY: Well, mention the chapel, please.
MOORE: Well, when I was the executive officer, we had been trying for some time to get a Catholic chaplain at the Naval Air Station. Usually chaplains are assigned by the population of the base. In other words, if there's predominantly more Protestants assigned to the air station than there were Catholics, but what wasn't being considered was all of the people that we had coming. That our base increased by two thousand folks every time an airwing came in for training, and so I had occasion to get into the act and I wanted this Catholic chaplain. I communicated with the Chief of Chaplains who was John O'Connor who is now Cardinal of New York, but he was on active duty at the time, and through his people, we were able to work out a deal. I had to give up two officer billets in order to gain this chaplain's billet. I had one billet that was an officer billet assigned to me which had never been filled which I immediately gave up so that was of no loss. Then I gave up another billet that I felt wasn't imperative to have to run the air station. I got special permission from the Chief of Naval Operations to assign him a set of quarters, and he lived over in Turnkey with all the rest of the folks. And so our first Catholic chaplain was Father Dave Travers, and ever since he came he's always had a Catholic relief. The senior chaplain at NAS Fallon, to my knowledge, has always been a Protestant and still is, but there has always been a Catholic priest here since that day, and I'm kind of happy about that. I mean that I had something to do with it. The commanding officer at the time, not being Catholic, didn't have a big interest, but I did, and we got him. Just to kind of reminisce a little bit on some of the things we've already covered. We got the three different swimming pools in and how we built the swimming pool. We used to show movies at night. Had to set up for movies in an old gymnasium. Later we built a Butler building to make a regular theater out of it with real theater seats and the stage which we're still using. We got authorization to start enlarging the BOQ. We got authorization to make new barracks for the enlisted people, and that's a continuing program. Like I say, we enlarged the runway. We made the cross deck runway. Other things that come to mind. Where the laundromat is now presently located at the air station, that little teeny building which houses about maybe ten or twelve machines at the most was our original commissary store, and it didn't have much. Eight or ten shelves and a little bit of produce. Not near as big as a Seven-Eleven. But when we built the new bowling alley over on the new side, we converted the old side bowling alley into the commissary store. Of course, since I've retired now we have a large commissary store which, you may be interested to know, is going to be enlarged to almost twice its present size. And we have a brand-new Navy exchange. The old Navy exchange, was enlarged time and time again. Every time we could get a spare room why, we knocked down a wall and enlarged things. We built baseball diamonds. We hosted Fallon teams and different state teams to come and play out there. We put in a few hookups for motor homes. We built a couple of big barbecue areas for families to enjoy and for squadrons to have special parties. [Tape cuts]
MOORE: I retired from Fallon after a lot of soul searching. I guess the easiest way to tell you that is, that I was slated for Captain. Commander Naval Air Force Pacific had a plan already in place. I was going to be selected--I guess that's the word to use--and subsequently I was going to be assigned as the commanding officer of the Naval Air Station in Atsugi, Japan. That would have meant a fourth stripe and not too bad, I was thinking, to wind up as 0-6 after starting off as E-1. In the meantime I attended a social function one night, wherein Mike Lauf who owned the Bonanza and the Nugget casinos offered me a good position with him. We talked about it for several weeks, and I decided that that would probably be the thing to do because Tom was still in high school doing well, and to uproot him and take him to Japan didn't sound like such a good move even if I was promoted to 0-6. Japan wasn't one of my favorite places. Remember, I told you at the start of this interview that's how come I joined the Navy. It's because of Japan, and I wasn't going to end it there. So, I retired because Mr. Lauf had offered me this position which subsequently was General Manager of the entire complex which included the Nugget, the Bonanza, the office buildings across from the new post office, an old place called Mom's Place where the present AM-PM gas station [Williams Avenue] now is. We had a lot of property holdings all over the place. When I told Mike I would go to work for him, I said I'd have to have five to six months to get out of the Navy, and he agreed to wait for me that period of time. We did it on a handshake. I put in my papers. I went down and told Admiral Coogan that I wasn't going to stay, that I was going to retire, I told him what the circumstances were, and he gave me his blessing. He said he thought that was the thing for me to do, and I was quite relieved over that because there was a lot of background into why I was going to be the commanding officer of [Atsugi, Japan], that we won't go into, but I was apprehensive about telling him that I was not going to accept that job. I worked with Mr.Lauf for about six years, and then I left that job and I went on vacation again. I met my friend Ernie Heying,who's been in Fallon for longer than I have. We first met on active duty together in Monterey [California] and then again in Fallon, and I met him for a fishing trip up in the Snake River. At that time Ernie Heying owned Independence Realty in Fallon, and he asked me to come and be a realtor. Well, I already had my education for real estate. I had taken it at the Community College, and so then it was a matter of whether or not I wanted to go and take the test. Took the test, got a license, and became a licensed realtor with Independence Realty, and, as a matter of fact, I'm still there. I have been there for maybe eight, nine years, but I don't work at it hard anymore. I go down to the office a couple of times a week, three times a week, something like that, for a couple of hours at a time.
LaVOY: Did you and Marg move from the quarters at the base right into this house?
MOORE: Yes. We purchased this home [2650 Highland Drive] before I retired, and we came out. The pictures of the before and after; you wouldn't believe what we've done out here. I mentioned to you earlier that Father Travers was assigned to the air station, and he and Marg started painting the inside of the house while my daughter and youngest son and I worked on the outside of the house. We wallpapered inside, and we planted grass, and we planted trees, and we fenced. But, yes, I purchased this home before I retired and we moved in over the Fourth of July weekend of 1978.
LaVOY: And you've lived happily here?
MOORE: And here we are, August of 1995, getting ready to go to Canada for about two months and put Fallon in our rearview mirror.
LaVOY: Well, thank you very much, Jim. This has been a delightful interview, and on behalf of the Churchill County Museum Oral History Program, I do want to thank you for the all the time and energy that you've given us.
MOORE: Thank you.
LaVOY: Jim, I just want to add an addendum to this, and it will be put in the text of your interview. Tell me about the mountain lion incident and what year that was, approximately.
MOORE: That would have been about 1962, and the commanding officer was Max Piper. Incidentally, Max Piper was dearly beloved by the Fallon people. They really liked him, and he made a lot of lasting friends here. He had a party out at his house to which Marg and I were invited, and the party got over rather late that evening. That was at the May Ranch, and so, later on, he was just in his underwear and he took a sack of garbage outside to put in the garbage can in the garage. He opened up the door, and, lo and behold, there was a mountain lion staring at him and let out this big growl. Max immediately slammed the garage door shut and they called Security. Security came out, and the upshot of the whole deal was that they finally called Animal Control people and they picked up this-and this was a big mountain lion! They picked up this mountain lion, and it was kind of funny because we always remembered the party, and we used to kid Captain Piper saying, "Well, from now on nobody needs one for the road." We talked about that for a long, long time.