Lt. Col. Joseph A. Moore, the 54-year old man who provided spiritual guidance to Idaho National Guard soldiers for the past two decades, died suddenly of undisclosed natural causes Tuesday at a military base in Africa.
Moore died at a base in Djibouti, Africa, just south of Yemen and Saudi Arabia in Northeast Africa, where he was stationed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom during a seven-month tour of duty with the U.S. Air Force.
The mood at Gowen Field was bleak Wednesday, said Lt. Col Tim Marsano, who has known Moore — known as “Art” to everyone on base — for the 19 years he worked as a chaplain for Idaho's soldiers and airmen.
Moore's job as full-time chaplain was to counsel any soldier or airman with the Idaho National Guard who needed help or guidance, regardless of denomination — a job he relished, Marsano said.
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"Art was an outstanding human being," Marsano said. "He was our 'go-to guy' when a soldier needed help. He was very kind, discreet, caring, light-hearted and fun-loving.”
Initial reports did not disclose a suspected cause of death. Marsano said there were no indications or history of long-term illness, and if there were, Moore would not have been deployed overseas.
Moore leaves behind a wife, parents, and daughter in the Boise area. The family has requested not to be contacted by the media as the deal with Moore’s sudden death but did release a statement Wednesday morning:
“Art loved the military, loved working with the people and loved traveling as part of his military duties. Being a minister to service members was dear to his heart, and he was available to help anybody at any time.
“He enjoyed life, and his family always came first. He loved his family, loved his career, loved Idaho and anybody who knew Art also knew he also loved fishing. We loved Art and we will miss him.”
Marsano said Moore’s official denomination was the Southern Baptist Convention faith, but it didn’t matter what belief system an airman or soldier had, because Moore was always there to help.
“I never thought of him as being any specific denomination,” Marsano said. “He was the guy you sought out if a buddy needed help.” Moore spent all his energies trying to improve the lives of military families in Idaho, who are often put under tremendous stress.
Marsano said two projects close to Moore’s heart were the marriage enrichment seminars and counseling he would provide to airmen and soldiers in the Idaho National Guard and the work he did educating people on suicide prevention.
In addition to his duties at Gowen Field, Moore spent a considerable amount of time traveling in Idaho to help the soldiers and airmen at the 26 different National Guard facilities scattered across the state.
“Chaplain Art Moore provided important spiritual and moral guidance, common sense and friendship to most members of the Idaho National Guard at one time or another during his 19-year career with our organization,” Maj. Gen. Larry Lafrenz, Idaho Adjutant General, said Wednesday. “He was always there for us when we needed him, and we will miss him more than words can express. Our thoughts and prayers are with Art’s family at this difficult time.”
Check back at IdahoStatesman.com for more information.