WHEELING, W.Va. — More than 60 years after his plane was shot down over North Korea, relatives of Ohio County native Capt. Harry C. Moore are still trying to discover the truth about his fate.
Moore, who grew up in the Elm Grove section of Wheeling, was shot down on June 1, 1951, and declared missing in action. In 1953, the Air Force changed his status to killed in action.
Moore’s wife, Lois, and his brother, Robert, decided to move on with their lives. While sharing their grief over losing Moore, the couple fell in love and married. They raised Moore’s daughter together and also had another child of their own.
They thought they had closure.
But in 2002, they received a letter from the Air Force stating it was possible Moore survived being shot down and that he may have been captured by the Soviets.
The closure they believed they had turned into shock and disbelief.
For the past 12 years they have worked to try and discover the truth about what happened to Moore. They even had a documentary made called “Keeping the Promise Alive,” in reference to the phrase often used by members of the military – “leave no one behind.”
“We want a full accounting of what happened to Capt. Moore. In addition, there are 7,860 other families who have never had closure regarding their loved ones. Our government must fully account for each and every one,” Robert Moore said.
“Harry served his country with honor. He was a fighter pilot. He was shot down by the Japanese in China at the age of 19. In spite of this, he re-enlisted and fought the foes of the U.S. in Korea. He flew over 100 missions in Korea under the worst of circumstances and did not shirk his duties. He was shot down at age 27. Our government deserted Harry and many others,” he added.
This past weekend, the couple attended the Defense Department’s POW/MIA regional family update in Pittsburgh. Moore said this meeting is one of six held across the country.
“We attend three of the meetings and the annual meeting each year. Families of the unaccounted for who live within 300 miles usually attend. Each year the attendance has diminished as the families give up. At the annual meeting about 400 attend and at the regional meetings about 200. We have accepted a consulting role with the (Defense Prisoner of War and Missing Office) and the Joint Accounting Commission during a reorganization of them which is underway,” he said.
Although every year, he believes they are a little closer to the truth, Moore said, if necessary, they will hire a private investigator to examine the Russian archives “if and when they are reopened.”
“We were close (to discovering the truth) and finding additional information last year when the Russian archives were going to made available. When President Obama was unable to establish a working relationship with President Putin, things fell apart. Our descendents will follow up when Lois and I are unable to do so, and eventually things will come to life. … We forced the Defense Department to admit that in Capt. Moore’s case, a POW was taken to Russia,” he said.
Moore said because the U.S. government says there is no definitive proof that Capt. Moore and others became POWs of the Soviets that it cannot try and find their remains. If still alive, Capt. Moore would be 90 years old.