Hillsboro VFW to remember colonial soldier at ceremony Monday
On Monday, Dale Pack will don his uniform and do what he has done countless times over the last few years: present military honors at the funeral of a fallen soldier.
But unlike any other ceremony Pack has ever participated in, Monday's service will be different. The soldier Pack and others from Hillsboro's Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2666 will be honoring didn't fall in combat in Iraq or Afghanistan. He didn't serve in Vietnam or World War II.
Instead, he died on a field New York, fighting for a country that had only been declared a month earlier.
William Moore fought in the Revolutionary War in George Washington's Continental Army. A Quaker of Scottish descent, he was killed in the Battle of Brooklyn Heights on Aug. 27, 1776.
The Hillsboro VFW will lead a ceremony at Veterans Gateway on Monday, Aug. 27 — 242 years after Moore's death — presenting Moore's descendants with a 13-star American flag to honor Moore for his service and his sacrifice.
"It's important for people to see that it's not just today's batch of veterans that need to be honored, but all veterans stretching back to the beginning of the country," said Pack, post commander for the Hillsboro VFW. "They each paid a sacrifice to make this the great and free nation that it is. Some paid the ultimate sacrifice."
If you go
What: Military honors for Revolutionary War soldier
Where: Veterans Gateway, Hillsboro
When: 6:30 p.m., Monday, Aug. 27
Moore is the ancestor of Colleen Salsberry, of Camas, Wash.
A member of the Hillsboro VFW's auxiliary and Hillsboro native, Salsberry, 58, said she was interested in raising awareness of prisoners of war and soldiers listed as missing when she joined the VFW. Then, while researching her family history, Salsberry discovered Moore, her mother's sixth great-uncle, who fought and died in the Revolutionary War. Moore's body was never recovered. He is listed as Missing in Action.
"It's quite a story," Salsberry said. "Through his commander's journal we know the timeframe William was lost and his actions the night before."
The United States was only six weeks old when Private William Moore and the rest of his battalion were attacked by British forces.
The Battle of Brooklyn Heights, also known as the Battle of Long Island, was the first major battle of the Revolutionary War, and was a loss for the Americans. Some 50,000 British and American soldiers fought over several miles of Brooklyn in what was the largest battle of the entire war.
On Aug. 27, 1776, British forces attacked, surrounding the Americans. While a contingent of British soldiers attacked their front, the main army surrounded the Americans to attack their flank as well.
A member of the Pennsylvania First Battalion's rifle regiment, Moore and his father joined the army in April 1776. His unit was responsible for guarding the hills to the far left of the American line.
According to Salsberry, Moore and about 230 other colonial soldiers attacked the well-armed British infantry, which outnumbered them nearly 4 to 1. Their early morning charge, Salsberry said, alerted Americans of the flank attack by the British, which gave troops the chance to safely get behind American lines.
Moore's unit suffered heavy casualties. About 209 of the men were either killed or listed as missing at the end of the battle.
"It was hopeless," Salsberry said. "They were outnumbered, and the British had bayonets. The Americans had only muskets, but they alerted the line that the British were there. Because of this, most of the Army was able to get behind fortified lines and Washington made his great escape from New York, and the rest is history."
When Salsberry learned of her ancestor, she approached Pack about small service to remember the fallen Revolutionary War soldier.
"I couldn't get William out of my mind," she said. "Services like this weren't available at the time," Salsberry said. "The nation was so new."
Pack isn't sure how many people will attend the celebration on Monday, but said the short service is expected to include remarks from Hillsboro and Washington County elected officials.
"It's a pretty nice program we have planned," Salsberry said. "It's a very fitting tribute."
Pack will use a 13-star flag during Monday's celebration, which will be presented to Salsberry's mother, he said. The 13-star flag was used in the 1770s to represent the 13 original U.S. colonies.
"It's a closure for my family," Salsberry said. "It will be a very heartfelt and profound experience for us."
Members of the VFW regularly perform military honors at funerals across the region, said Pack, a U.S. marine who served in the Vietnam War.
"It's something we do quite frequently," he said. "Though, this one has a unique twist."
Moore said he has never heard of a VFW post performing military honors for a soldier who died so long ago.
But no matter how long ago they served, Pack said, showing respect to fallen soldiers is an important thing to do.
"Brooklyn has been built up on top of him," Pack said. "We'll never be able to find his remains, but we can at least pay honor to his sacrifice."
Veterans Gateway is located on Veterans Drive, south of the Washington County Fair Complex and the TriMet Fair Complex/Hillsboro Airport MAX station, 601 N.E. 34th Ave., in Hillsboro.
By Geoff Pursinger
Editor, Hillsboro Tribune
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