Leroy Jethro Moore is an African American World War II veteran, the best friend of Jackson Gibbs and also the namesake of NCIS Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs.
Born in Stillwater, Pennsylvania, Leroy Jethro Moore first met Jackson Gibbs when the two men were growing up in the town. Moore volunteered to serve in the racially-segregated United States Marine Corps during World War II. Since white and black Marines did not enter the Corps together, Moore did not become a Marine at the traditional eastern location, Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island. Instead, he trained at Camp Gilbert H. Johnson, at Montfort Point, North Carolina, and is thus a "Montford Point Marine"- the first black Americans to join the United States Marine Corps. After completing his recruit training, was sent to fight in the Pacific, and participated in the Battle of Iwo Jima in February-March 1945.
During the battle, Moore crossed an open field under heavy enemy fire to rescue three wounded Marines in his platoon. Despite being hit several times, Moore returned and completed the task of rescuing all three men. Moore attained the rank of corporal during World War II, and was returned to the United States and honorably discharged from the Marines after the war ended.
Sometime after the war ended, Moore met Jackson Gibbs and they opened a store together in Stillwater, Pennsylvania. The two were close friends for a time, enough so that Jackson named his only son after Moore. But they had a falling out, and did not speak again for many years.
Moore did not receive the Medal of Honor for his actions at Iwo Jima for many years. Systematic racial discrimination ensured that not one black serviceman in the US Armed Forces received the Medal of Honor for actions during World War II, although several were nominated. That changed in the 1990's, when the fact that racism had caused several Medal of Honor nominations to be downgraded to the Navy Cross or the Distinguished Service Cross. On January 13, 1997, more than fifty years after the end of the war, President Bill Clinton awarded the Medal to seven African American World War II veterans. Out of those seven, only two were still alive. One of them was Leroy Jethro Moore, who had his picture taken with President Clinton shortly after the medal was presented.
NCIS Season 10Edit
In "The Namesake", Moore is first referred to when, while investigating the murder of a Navy petty officer, Gibbs and Tony are surprised to find a Medal of Honor on display in a Maryland pawn shop. The owner reveals that although the Medal of Honor cannot be legally sold, the old man who came in with it needed whatever money he could get. The pawn shop owner "loaned"- essentially gave- the old man $3,000 and was given the medal, its accompanying case and citation. The name on the citation read "Leroy Jethro Moore". Gibbs suddenly becomes more interested upon seeing the name, and reveals to Tony that he is named after Moore, who was Jackson Gibbs' best friend.
By the time of "The Namesake", Jackson Gibbs and Leroy Jethro Moore had not spoken in many years. Thinking about his old hero prompted Gibbs to locate Moore through the VA, and then to visit him in person at the retirement home where Moore was living. Gibbs mentions that Moore's service in the Marine Corps was a significant part of his decision to join the Marines himself. When asked why he pawned his Medal of Honor, Moore explains that a lift at the retirement home broke down, making it impossible for many residents to get in and out. Since he had no family to share the medal with and it was just "collecting dust over the years", in Moore's words, he "put the medal to good use" and obtained the $3,000 to help get the lift fixed for his neighbors.
Jackson Gibbs eventually reveals to his son that he and Moore ceased to be friends when Jackson's wife became terminally ill with cancer. She confided in Moore that she intended to overdose and kill herself, and Moore didn't stop her or tell Jackson. When Jackson found it, he was furious, and 40 years passed before he even spoke of Moore again. Moore confirms this to Leroy Jethro Gibbs, but also tells him that he and Gibbs' mother had been interested in each other when they were growing up in Stillwater. Because interracial relationships were not allowed in most of the U.S. at the time, Gibbs' mother ultimately married another young man who she had a mutual interest in- Jackson Gibbs. Despite this, Moore and Ann remained close until she died. Leroy Jethro Gibbs finally managed to get the two men to compose their quarrel towards the episode's end. Jackson Gibbs went to the Maryland pawn shop and paid back the $3,000 loan in full, then visited Moore and gave the medal back to its owner. Jackson invites Moore to visit him in Stillwater, then asks if he wants a ride there, and Moore accepts- provided he gets to drive them there himself.
NCIS Season 11Edit
In the season finale, "Honor Thy Father," Moore reunited with Leroy Jethro Gibbs in the aftermath of Jackson Gibbs' death. As Jackson Gibbs was a United States Army Air Force veteran, he was eligible for a military funeral, which was provided by the United States Air Force. During the ceremony, Moore told Gibbs, "He was proud of you, Leroy." Gibbs replied, "Proud of him, too."
Awards and DecorationsEdit
United States Marine CorpsEdit
Below is a partial list of decorations awarded to Leroy Jethro Moore by the USMC:
- Medal of Honor
- Navy Cross (later upgraded to Medal of Honor)
- Asiatic-Pacific Area Campaign Medal
- World War II Victory Medal
Behind the Scenes Edit
- Leroy Jethro Moore's story is based off of the seven black Army veterans of World War II who had their Medal of Honor nominations downgraded to the Distinguished Service Cross, the United States Army's second-highest combat heroism decoration. In the 1990's, the U.S. Congress and President Bill Clinton decided to upgrade 7 DSC recipients to the Medal of Honor after determining that systematic racism had played ensured not one black American received the Medal of Honor during World War II. Vernon Baker was the only one of the seven men still alive by 1997, when the awards were made. Leroy Jethro Moore's story makes a slight alternate universe, where (presumably) six Army and one Marine veteran had their previous awards upgraded to the Medal of Honor.
- Since the 7 real-life black American World War II veterans who received the Medal of Honor all received the Distinguished Service Cross and then had it upgraded by act of Congress more than 40 years later, it can be safely assumed that Moore was originally awarded the Navy Cross. The seven men were all identified and determined to be eligible for the upgrade due in part to the fact that they had all been nominated for the Medal of Honor originally, but the award at the time was downgraded to the second-highest, rather than highest, award for combat heroism. Since Moore was in the Marines, he would have received the Navy Cross, the Department of the Navy's equivalent to the Distinguished Service Cross.