FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- A former Army air traffic controller, now a Federal Aviation Administration official, came back here Aug. 6 to visit where his career started three decades ago and to motivate Soldiers in training.

Gregory Moore spoke to a graduating advanced individual training class and current ATC students during his Fort Rucker tour.

He graduated from the former 93H air traffic control operator course here, in March 1976 as a private first class. Since separating from the Army in 1979 as a sergeant, Moore has worked at the FAA, where he is currently the headquarters liaison on the Commander's Staff for Western Air Defense Sector. His home office is in Washington, D.C.

Moore said he was excited to return, having last set foot on Fort Rucker about 30 years ago when he was assigned to Cairns Army Airfield. He decided to visit on his way to conducting FAA business in the Gulf Coast.

"I am finally able to give back to the Army what the Army gave to me," he told ATC Soldiers. "(The) proudest moment (of my career) was here today because this is where I started."

He told graduates and students his passion for air traffic control began during his youth. Moore joined the military at age 21 to pursue that dream.

"I used to love to watch airplanes land and take off. It amazed me," he said. "It's like a light came on. I loved (air traffic control). I couldn't get enough of it."

Moore advised the young Soldiers that teamwork, communication, confidence and having fun are important aspects of a successful ATC unit.

"You're a Family. You depend on each other in order to excel in what you do," he said.

Moore called his visit "very emotional," and attributed his successful 29-year FAA career to the training he received here many decades ago.

"The training was superb in (the) schoolhouse and (at) Cairns tower. It's a diverse and busy airport. It gave me a quick jumpstart into air traffic," he said.

Some AIT students said they were excited to hear Moore's story and glean important ATC information from him.

"You could tell it meant a lot to him (to visit here)," said Pfc. Sarah Luchetsky, A Company, 1st Battalion, 13th Aviation Regiment. "It makes me see the future, that one day I could be in his position. He's definitely an inspiration. To see someone stick with ATC that long and see how rewarding it is for him (encouraged me)."

Spc. Richard Shrader, also of A Co., said he was inspired by Moore's Army career, and hopes to serve for a long time.

"He gave me more encouragement to stay on my path with the military," Shrader said.

Leaders said they invited Moore to speak at the graduation upon finding out about his intentions to visit Fort Rucker "so that the students could associate goals and achievements of what they can also accomplish," said Air Operations Training Committee Chief Sgt. Maj. Todd Schmidt.

"The students related immediately, knowing he had also been where they are now," he said. "(Moore) sparked hope, goals and the reality that they can also achieve a promising career in Aviation."