LANCASTER, Calif. — Lou Moore qualified for pilot training in World War II, but it was a rough landing in an open-cockpit training biplane, a PT-17 Stearman, that he figures might just have saved his life.
“A lot of the fellows who got their pilot wings ended up getting killed in combat.”
Instead, Moore shipped out to Europe with ground forces, one of more than 20,000 G.I.s aboard HMS Queen Mary, the “Grey Ghost” that, along with the HMS Queen Elizabeth, carried most Americans to the scattered fronts of World War II.
Moore, who is Chinese-American, served in the European Theater of Operations — England before D-Day, and after that, air field security with an U.S. Army Air Force weather squadron in France. One of his frequent anxieties was to be mistaken as Japanese, but he said he had Army buddies who ran interference for him and kept him safe when they were “out on the town.”
That was nearly 80 years ago. On Sunday, Oct. 30, his long-ago service was celebrated by more than 200 friends, family, brother and sister military veterans.
Arriving in a vintage 1940s Buick Roadster, preceded by motorcycle escort of American Legion Riders, World War II veteran and author Lou Moore celebrated his 100th birthday on Sunday at Bravery Brewing in Lancaster.
Moore, and the big gathering, was serenaded by Mariachis from Hermanos Ramos and dancers of Alin Folklorico followed by dancers of Halau Hula O Kanoelani led by Lia Kamminga.
After performing traditional Hawaiian dance, the group performed “Proud To Be an American.”
Entertainment for the evening closed out with “America The Beautiful” performed by jazz saxophonist Herbie Kay.
Hosts Bart and Sandra Avery welcomed hundreds of patriotic friends. American Legion Post 348 Auxiliary Marcy Velador, her daughter, Illyana, lead caregiver Gabriella Santana and Post members worked with Broken Bit Steak House owner Mike Burroughs to organize the event.
“I never thought that in living through World War II and coming back without a scratch that I would live to be 100 and be here with all of you today,” Moore said. “I thank you each and every one from the bottom of my heart.”
Moore was Guest of Honor at the Coffee4Vets-hosted Veterans Military Ball, and he was recognized recently at the Senior Expo hosted by High Desert Medical Group at the Antelope Valley Fairgrounds.
Groups that attended and honored Moore included American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion Riders, AV Vets4veterans, Point Man Antelope Valley, Coffee4Vets, Bombshell Bettys, and two other veterans of history’s greatest conflict that took 40 million lives.
He was joined at table by World War II Navy veteran Carroll Bierbauer who served on the USS Comfort hospital ship, and U.S. Army Air Force veteran Ted Johnson.
Lou went into the Army soon after the Japanese attack on Pearl. In 2021 he was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal as one of 20,000 Chinese Americans who served in World War II. Soon after the war ended, he met and married Nellie Hatsumi Mayeda, one of the thousands of loyal Japanese American citizens interned in camps that the Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional decades after the war.
Lou and Nellie Moore were married 74 years, and she was main topic of Moore’s memoir “Eternal Love,” a brisk seller on Amazon.
“I am so grateful that I was able to survive the war, to return to the United States, and to marry my beloved Nellie, with whom I spent the next 74 years.”
During a successful career in a number of business ventures, Nellie and Lou struck up a family friendship with another veteran of World War II, Ernest Borgnine. Borgnine was a Navy sailor during the war, but went on to his greatest fame as the namesake skipper of “McHale’s Navy.”
Recounting that his grandfather was a World War II Navy skipper killed in action, Bravery owner Bart Avery, brushing back tears, said, “You served in the war that had to be won. And we are so happy that you chose our location to celebrate your birthday.”
Avery added, “There is one thing you can be pretty sure about. I am pretty sure anyway, that today is the only day we have a World War II veteran celebrating his 100th birthday, in our Antelope Valley, at least.”
Editor’s note: Dennis Anderson is an Army paratrooper veteran who has worked as an Antelope Valley journalist for more than 25 years. He served in NATO during the Cold War, and deployed to Iraq as an embedded reporter. He still jumps, with Liberty Jump Team, from World War II vintage C-47 aircraft, and made commemorative jumps in Normandy for D-Day in June 2022.