Eugene P. Moran, 89, of Soldiers Grove, passed away surrounded by his family Sunday, March 23, 2014.
Funeral services were held on Friday, March 28, 2014 at 11 a.m. at St. Philips Parish at Rolling Ground. Father Zacharie Beya officiated. Friends called from 3 to 7 p.m. on Thursday and from 10 a.m. until the service on Friday, both at the church. Gene will be buried in the church cemetery at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to the American Legion Wm. Schoville Post 220, St. Philip Parish or the North Crawford Rescue Squad.
Online condolences may be left at simefunealforum.com
The Sime Funeral Home in Readstown assisted the family with arrangements.
For the complete obituary, please see the April 3, 2014 edition of the Crawford County Independent & Kickapoo Scout.
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A tribute to a local legend
Decorated veteran and Soldiers Grove resident, Eugene Moran passed away at the age of 89 on March 23, 2014.
Moran was a Crawford County native and enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1942. As a tail gunner in a B-17 Flying Fortress, on his fifth bombing mission his plane encountered heavy fire near Bremen, Germany. The tail section of his plane was severely damaged and separated from his aircraft during combat. With a bullet-riddled parachute, Moran rode the tail section down at a rate of 100 feet per second, according to the narrative in a Veterans Lifetime Achievement Award he received in 2007. Moran sustained a crushed skull when the section he was riding hit a tree before crashing to the ground. He was saved by a Serbian doctor who was also a POW and preformed surgery to repair his head wounds.
Moran remained a prisoner of war for nearly 18 months. Incarcerated in POW camps in Germany, Prussia, and Poland. He survived solitary confinement, relocation on a ‘hell ship’ on the Baltic Sea, and a 600-mile forced march from early February to late April in 1945, during one of the harshest winters on record.
Eugene was liberated in late April of 1945, weighing only 128 pounds. He was discharged December first. He was awarded two Purple Hearts, the Air Medal with Gold Leaf Cluster, the European Theater Award, and the Good Conduct Medal. Eugene was also the first recipient of the prestigious Veterans Lifetime Achievement Award from the Wisconsin Board of Veterans Affairs.
In an interview for the Federal Veterans History Project, Moran recalled why he enlisted.
“Well, when I was a kid there on the farm, on a nice bright day I would be lying here and looking up at the sky and see those planes, and I always said some day I’ll be in one of them, and I did.”
A year after his discharge, Eugene married Margaret “Peg” Finley and moved to Soldiers Grove where they raised nine children. Margaret passed after 57 years of marriage, but Eugene found love once more and married Pauline Montgomery in 2007.
Eugene continued to be a public servant during his years after the war. He was a Life Member of American Legion Post 220 and held several leadership positions and chaired numerous service projects. He served as chief of the Soldiers Grove Volunteer Fire Department, a Charter member of the Soldiers Grove Rescue Squad, and a fire warden for 30 years, and was an active member of St. Philips Parish. After his over 30-year career as a rural mail carrier, Gene served as a member of the Crawford County Board of Supervisors for 20 years. In 2008, the Village of Soldiers Grove dedicated a street in the village park, naming it after him to honor him.
Gene was said to have lived his life to the fullest and embraced as his life’s philosophy “I’d rather wear out than rust out.”