Continuing the Climb: A Father's Legacy

By Sgt. Brandon CoxJune 21, 2020

FORT DRUM – Tradition, honor, and legacy are significant parts of what it means to be in the U.S. Army. These are also vital parts of being a father.

A legacy was born when U.S. Army Reserve Chaplain (Maj.) William Joseph Moran Jr. enlisted in the military in 2009, but he did not know it at the time.

Moran, while raising four children as a full-time pastor in Lexington, Kentucky, decided to join the U.S. Army after the unfortunate loss of his grandfather, Jefferson A. Moran, a World War II veteran and survivor of D-Day.

"Losing my grandfather stuck with me for a while, I wanted to join the Army to honor his service," said Moran. At 42 years of age, Moran completed his training and entered into the U.S. Army Reserve.

Continuing the Climb: A Father's Legacy
Chaplain (Maj.) William Joseph Moran Jr., and his family pose for a photo during his graduation of the U.S. Army's Officer Candidate School (OCS) in 2009, at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. (Photo Credit: Courtesy Photo) VIEW ORIGINAL

This feat meant more in the eyes of his sons, John Charles Moran and William Joseph Moran III, than he realized.

"At that time, both of my boys were 12 and 14, and they absolutely loved that I was joining the Army," said Moran. "They loved all of the stories about my training."

1st Lt. John Moran, a Human Resources Officer deployed in support of Operation Freedom Sentinel with the 10th Mountain Division (LI) Sustainment Brigade, recalled his first reactions to his father's enlistment.

"Knowing very little, I was certain his life would be in danger," said John Moran, "And yet, in some way, it made total sense. My dad has always put others first, and joining the Army seemed like the culmination of his lifelong journey for others."

Upon making it back home and starting work as a Chaplain, Moran decided to put in a mobilization packet for his first active-duty assignment to Fort Drum, New York - the home of the 10th Mountain Division (LI).

"When we got here (Fort Drum), the kids loved to go outside and interact with all of the 10th Mountain Soldiers," said Moran. "They liked to run or hike with them, and often times the Soldiers would be intrigued by how interested the boys were in learning what they did at work. Some of the Soldiers would even take the boys to go and show them what they did."

Capt. William Moran III, a U.S. Army Logistics Officer for the 10th Mountain Division (LI) Sustainment Brigade, currently attending the Captains Career Course at Fort Lee, Virginia, remembered some of his fondest childhood memories at Fort Drum.

"The 10th Mountain Division made me fall in love with the Army," said William Moran III, "My dad's first formal promotion ceremony was at the monument, I'll never forget it. The first Division run I heard from my bedroom as I got ready for school. The unique feeling of pride from being there. It really is the Army's best-kept secret!"

John Moran added, "In my mind, the Division reflects who my dad is: powerful, unwavering, and rises to every occasion"

The father, William Moran Jr., reflected on his service.

"The military has given back to me so much more than I have given; it has provided me with a great amount of income, discipline, and experience I wouldn't have gotten in the church. It gave my children opportunities to see things they would never have seen before," said William Moran Jr.

Continuing the Climb: A Father's Legacy
From left, 1st Lt. John Charles Moran, Maj. William Joseph Moran Jr., and Capt. William Joseph Moran III, pose for a photo at John Moran's commissioning ceremony May. 4, 2020, in Jefferson City, Tennesee. (Photo Credit: Courtesy Photo) VIEW ORIGINAL

After graduating from Carson-Newman University ROTC in Jefferson City, Tennessee, and completing Army officer candidate school (OCS), the brothers, both John and William Moran III, continue their father's legacy at Fort Drum with children of their own.

"I am very proud of my boys and their families," said William Moran Jr. "As a father, I am thankful that my sons married such supportive wives like their mother. My only hope is that they have seen good things in me to be good husbands and fathers."

William Moran III added, "And it really did all start with my dad. Dad growing his family the way he did and living his life the way he has, has given me the perfect model to copy from."

Continuing the Climb: A Father's Legacy
Capt. William Joseph Moran III, wife, Hanna Moran, and son, William Joseph Moran IV, pose for a family photo on Apr. 4, 2020, at Fort Lee, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Courtesy Photo) VIEW ORIGINAL

Leaving loved ones behind to answer the nation's call can be difficult. John Moran shared some of his thoughts regarding his recent deployment overseas.

"Of course, there is a lot of anxiety and a lot of pain in missing my family; there's no one and nothing I miss more than my wife and three children," said John Moran. "In truth, I hope they can see as powerfully as I did that their dad chose his career out of selfless intentions. I hope they understand why I'm gone right now."

Continuing the Climb: A Father's Legacy
1st Lt. John Charles Moran, wife, Sarah Moran, daughters, Rebekah and Rachel, and son, John Charles Moran II, pose for a family photo on May 9, 2020, at Fort Drum, New York.
(Photo Credit: Courtesy Photo)

As the son's journey further in their lives as fathers in the U.S. Army, one expresses some of his hopes for the future.

"My dad's love for me has never been a question," said William Moran III, "I hope my children feel half as much for me, as I do for him. Every day he epitomizes what it means to "Climb to Glory," and for that, I can never say enough.