John Moon, who graduated in 1939 from Western Illinois University with a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry, was motivated to join the Corps after the bombing of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, his obituary says. Moon also was inspired to join the service by his football coach “Rock” Hansen.
When he was nearly 102-years-old, the Purple Heart recipient went back to his alma mater in 2018 to sing the “The Star-Spangled Banner” at a basketball military appreciation night.
“John was a well-known and loved member of the community,” his obituary states. “Many will miss hearing his amazing singing voice, watching him ride his three-wheel bike, and his ‘fantastic’ attitude.”
A little more than two years after the Japanese attack in Hawaii, Moon enlisted in the Marine Corps on Dec. 29, 1943.
“How could I not enlist … making the world and my family safe from any more wars?” Moon had written, according to the Western Illinois Museum.
He completed training at Camp Pendleton, California, with the 5th Marine Division, according to his obituary. He then deployed to Iwo Jima, leaving in the States his then-wife N. Beatrice “Bee” Nichols, who passed away in 1998, and his first son. He later had two more children.
Moon arrived on the Japanese island on Feb. 19, 1945, and subsequently was wounded in battle. His obituary does not specify the extent of his injuries.
More than 100,000 U.S. forces infiltrated Iwo Jima in February 1945 to overthrow the Japanese defenders. Although the U.S. significantly outnumbered the Japanese, it took until March 26, 1945, for the U.S. to seize the island.
After Moon was discharged from the Marine Corps on Sept. 25, 1945, he returned to his hometown of Macomb, Illinois, and ran a café and candy store.
He also taught driver education at Macomb, Illinois, High School, was a carpenter and a school bus driver, sold life insurance, and served several terms as an alderman for Macomb City Council. He sang in his church’s choir and drove the “church car” to pick up the elderly for Sunday services.
Moon died Tuesday at a nursing care facility in his hometown. A visitation is scheduled for Nov. 6 at the Dodsworth-Piper-Wallen Funeral Home in Macomb, Illinois, and a Celebration of Life Memorial Service is slated for Nov. 7 at the Wesley United Methodist Church.
Moon was survived by two children, five grandchildren, five great-grandchildren and three great-great grandchildren, according to his obituary, and will be buried at the Forest Lawn Memory Gardens Cemetery in Illinois with full military rites.
He was preceded in death by nine siblings.