By Crystal Lewis Brown, Fort Jackson LeaderJanuary 15, 2009
When the "Old Soldier" walks into the room wearing his starched dress blues and spit-shined regulation shoes, the natural reaction is to stop and stare. Those who have never met him can tell immediately he is "somebody." And though his demeanor makes one want to sit up a bit straighter, his perpetually bright smile can put anyone at ease.
This spirited Soldier is retired Sgt. Maj. Ray Moran -- affectionately called the Old Soldier -- who was honored last month as the first of two inductees into the new Recruiting and Retention School Hall of Fame. Retired Sgt. Maj. Faith E. Childers was also inducted.
Even the name of the new honor reflects how well-respected Moran is in the world of Army recruiting -- it is called the Sgt. Maj. Ray Moran "Old Soldier" Hall of Fame.
Col. James Comish, recruiting school commandant, said Moran was an obvious choice for induction into the hall.
"We're really looking at sustained, superior performance over a period of decades," he said. "We're looking for someone whose whole career and life revolves around recruiting."
And in that, Moran fits the bill.
Moran, a Latrobe, Pa. native, enlisted in the Army in 1948. After serving in both North and South Korea, he volunteered in 1951 to serve as a recruiter -- a job he held until he retired in 1978. Even his love life was influenced by his recruiting.
"Our first date was a one-day Army Recruiting Annual Training Conference in Pittsburgh," he said, referring to his wife of 56 years, Barbara. "And together, Barbi and I have attended many Army recruiting conferences through the years."
After he retired from the Army, Moran was asked to stay on as a civilian recruiter, a job he still holds today at Ft. Meade, Md. For those doing the math, that puts his time as an Army recruiter at 58 years.
"Because of the longevity of his service and the reputation he's had over those many years of service, he was certainly a primary candidate for naming the whole Hall of Fame after him," Comish said.
Part of Moran's success, Comish said, is that he is always on duty. Comish recalls a luncheon where Moran was being inducted into the Sgt. Audie Murphy Club. He was seated at a table with then secretary of the army, Francis J. Harvey. When Harvey got up to speak, he couldn't resist mentioning Moran.
"When (Harvey) got up, he explained that he could understand why he was such a great recruiter because while he was at the luncheon table, the Old Soldier was working him for referrals and leads," Comish said. "He never stops; he's always working, trying to find the next prospect for the Army."
Besides being a respected colleague, Moran also easily steps into the roles of friend and surrogate father.
Master Sgt. Lindsey Streeter, Army Recruiter Course director, met Moran in 1995 while assigned to the Baltimore Recruiting Battalion. When he was converted to a recruiter position 18 months later, he took that opportunity to learn from the best.
"I was in a real good position because I had the opportunity to tap into years of experience, and at the same time be mentored by a guy who's all about Soldiers," he said.
Unfortunately, it was tragedy that brought the two Soldiers even closer.
"I think where we became the closest was after my father died in 1999. Sgt. Maj. Moran stepped in and filled that void left by my father's death," Streeter said. "Not only did he counsel me and give me advice from a professional level, it became more of a personal level with my personal growth and development - how to be a good father, how to be a good husband ... and those lessons were invaluable."
Even today, he is sure to stay in touch with Moran.
"We've had a relationship that withstood the years, and we're coming up on 15 years now as friends," he said. "When I go up to D.C. to see my mother, I go to his house and check on him. He's a wonderful person."
At almost 80 years old, Moran seems no closer to slowing down. In fact, he is often asked to share his experiences with young RRS students who have only heard the legacy of the Old Soldier.
"Being called the 'Old Soldier' truly puts a smile on my face," he said. "After 60 years of serving our country, I accept it with a personal pride.
"Taking care of Soldiers and their families is a precious caring concern of mine and I have embraced it with a great deal of enthusiasm, always willing to take time to help young men and women become American Soldiers."