Moos hits the road for historic reasons

PULLMAN – College athletic directors like Washington State's Bill Moos seemingly spend half their lives in airports and hotels. The endless travel has led more than a few AD's to seek a less demanding profession. Last month, however, Moos added more than 10,000 miles to his travel regimen, and he did so quite willingly.

Moos and former WSU basketball assistant coach Puck Smith, fulfilling a dream they first discussed when working together on campus more than 25 years ago, visited Europe to re-trace the steps of their fathers during World War II.

"We kind of just decided, ‘We're not getting any younger, we better go do it," Moos said Thursday. "It was just fascinating. We were in northern France, Belgium, Germany and Salzburg, Austria."

The elder Moos and Smith both served in the Army. Moos said Puck's late father, who flew B-24 bombers, spent nine months in a German prison camp. Moos' father, a WSU alum who later served four terms in the Washington State legislature, was involved in the famed Battle of the Bulge.

"Puck knew maybe 20 percent of his (father's) story in that German prison camp," Moos said. "We found a lady up in the Balkan Sea who had dedicated her life to those POW's. By the time we left, we knew about 95 percent of his story. "My dad never talked about it (his war experiences) when I was a kid but later came to peace with himself. He ended up about eight, nine years ago putting the maps together and the journals and did a two-hour DVD -- very thorough -- to tell his story and also to help me re-track his steps."

Moos, who speaks glowingly of his own children at the drop of a hat, seems every bit as proud of his father.

"He got two Purple Hearts, Bronze Star, dedicated combat soldier," Moos said. "I was in the exact spots where he was wounded because we did all our research and had guides and everything. "We found the old farmhouse where he took sanctuary with several other soldiers; they had a huge firefight. When he was hit, I found the farmhouse, the cellar he was in.

"I was able to bring all those pictures back and share them with him. He's 88 years old now, so it was pretty special."

Don and Parmalee Moos, who met at WSU 70 years ago, will celebrate their 66th wedding anniversary next week. The photos from Europe served as an early anniversary present from Bill, whose trip with Smith was arranged by wife Kendra as a belated present for Bill's 60th birthday last January.

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