Family reunion grandmother’s best gift
By Paula Vogler
Thursday, January 04, 2007 - Updated: 09:57 PM EST

With one grandson at sea in the Navy in Asia and one grandson deployed in Iraq with the Marines, finding a time when everyone could gather together for a reunion was almost four years in the making for Ann Marie Diamond of Mansfield and her family.

She was thrilled recently when both grandsons came home Saturday and paid a visit to her while also reconnecting with the rest of the family including their younger brother.

“They’re really great young men,” said Ann Marie. “This is the best Christmas present I’m going to get.”

With a large sign posted above her garage that read Welcome Home Ross, USMC and Darrell, USN, Ann Marie bubbled with enthusiasm when speaking of the two boys she and her husband were very close to when the boys were young.

“My husband (Louis) was a role model for them until he passed away (nine years ago),” Ann Marie said. “They had a lot of obstacles to overcome. They are so deserving of this.”

Darrell Moore, 23, is an E-3 in the Navy and returned from a five-month deployment aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln where he loaded weapons and pyrotechnics onto helicopters as needed.

While the ship holds a crew of 5,000, Darrell also had to get used to sleeping with 102 men in a large berthing room where coffin bunks stacked three high were the night’s accommodations.

A 2001 graduate of Mansfield High School, Darrell joined the Navy when he was 20 and has visited ports in Thailand, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan and Hawaii.

“I just wanted to do something new,” said Darrell. “They travel a lot and I wanted to do that.”

Darrell’s older brother, Ross Moore, 26, was a Marine stationed in Fallujah for eight months immediately after Phantom Fury took place, where insurgents were killed or driven from the city. His battalion worked to clear out remaining insurgents as well as to police the area and talk with the locals.

Ross said the Iraqis brought the Marines into their homes, fed them, and appreciated their presence in the city.

He said a typical citizen made barely $10 per week but insurgents would offer them $100 to dig a hole and bury Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) in the roads.

“The general population are all poor; it’s like a third world country,” said Ross. “When the Marines were in town there was no fighting (with the insurgents); they were not messing with them.”

Ross had not been home to see his family since he had a four-day leave while training in Maine in January 2003.

He also had not seen his grandmother’s rebuilt house since it burned down two Christmases ago when the tree caught fire. The boys also reunited with their mother, Juliana Diamond, as well as their younger brother, William Spencer, 19.

The family was also introduced for the first time to Ross’ girlfriend from Florida.

“We have not met her; we’ve communicated by phone and cards and letters,” said Ann Marie.

Moore was also introduced to two 5-year old cousins he had never met, as well as his mother’s fiancÚ.

“They’re so different, so much more mature,” said Juliana. “Once they got together they reverted right back to being little boys again. It was nice to see them that way again.”

Juliana said there was not a lot of contact when the boys were overseas, especially with Ross.

“You always had that gnawing feeling inside,” Juliana said. “You just can’t pick up a phone to call.”

With family gatherings held over the New Year’s weekend and catching up with friends they have not seen in many years, the boys and the family have been very busy.

“They are home for a week,” said Ann Marie. “It’s not a long time, but it’s enough just to be able to reconnect.”

Ross completed his four-year commitment to the Marines and was discharged at the end of November 2006. He is living and going to school in Florida where he hopes to become a police officer.

Darrell has another 18 months left before his time in the Navy is finished. He will be traveling back to San Diego where he is based, but hopes to join a fire department somewhere in the Massachusetts area when he gets out.

Paula Vogler can be reached at 508-967-3510 or by email at writedesk84@comcast.net.

Ellie