Fallen Marine remembered

By David Valdes

Marine Cpl. Nathaniel K. Moore was killed when the CH-53E helicopter he was traveling in crashed on Jan. 26. According to the Associated Press, he was one of 30 Marines and a sailor who also perished near Rutbah, Iraq.

Moore, 22, grew up in Champaign, but was based in Hawaii.

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He was a student at Centennial High School in Champaign until his junior year when he chose to attend Lincoln’s Challenge Academy, which offers a 17-month program for 16- to 18-year-olds that consists of G.E.D. instruction and an ordered military atmosphere.

Chub Connors, community relations specialist for Lincoln’s Challenge, spoke on behalf of the entire academy when he offered his condolences and words of praise.

“We are deeply proud and honored that he gave his life doing what he wanted,” Connors said. “He had been a very quiet and hardly-seen type (before coming to Lincoln’s Challenge Academy). According to people, he really blossomed.”

Connors also spoke of Moore’s achievements at Lincoln’s Challenge.

“He excelled as a cadet here. He told his personal counselor his goals were to get his G.E.D. He was number 15 at the top of his class. His second goal was to be a marine,” Connors said. “While here, he earned two merit awards granted by the academy for outstanding work. These awards were not given freely.”

“He really came into his own when placed into a leadership position,” said Christopher Brown, a team leader at Lincoln’s Challenge Academy.

Peter Schmitt, a teacher at Centennial High School who taught Moore, said he was a “real nice kid.” Schmitt also described Moore as quiet.

In an Associated Press article, Jodee Bean – Moore’s aunt – of Quitman, Texas, called her nephew an energetic and outgoing redhead who enjoyed gymnastics.

According to Kevin Russell, a University senior in communications who attended Centennial High School with Moore, “he was gung-ho about the Marines … with bumper stickers on the car.”

His father, grandfather and great-grandfather were also Marines.

“The first free election in Iraqi history will occur in no small part due to the efforts of the members of the 1st Marine Division who have sacrificed for this historical day,” said Major Gen. Richard Natonksi, commanding general of the 1st Marine Division, to the families on Jan. 26.

Moore was reportedly very close with his mother – Amber Moore, who is a veteran animal control officer in Champaign – and his younger sister.

Funeral services will be held at Windsor Road Christian Church, 2501 W. Windsor Road, Champaign, on Feb. 5 at 11 a.m.