Remembering the fallen: Retired colonel recalls rewarding, but heartbreaking military service

Retired Lt. Col. Linda Moore was the first female military veteran to be keynote speaker at Largo's Memorial Day ceremony at the Central Park Performing Arts Center.

LARGO — When retired U.S. Army Lt. Col Linda Moore went to Iraq and Afghanistan in 2006 and 2007, she arrived at the height of insurrection.

Moore, who lives in Seminole, was introduced as the keynote speaker by Largo Mayor Woody Brown at the Memorial Day Ceremony on May 31 at the Central Park Performing Arts Center.

As a trauma nurse coordinator, Moore's job was to observe and document trauma delivery to determine how they could do things better, she said.

"To ensure that we were giving optimum care to our American soldiers. Not only American soldiers, but Iraqi soldiers. NATO soldiers," she said.

"We worked on things like tourniquets, to make sure they worked," she said.

Medical personnel also strived to make sure that soldiers got the right type of blood and amounts.

The result, she said, was that the military during the Iraq War had a 95% survival rate.

"Unheard of," she said. "It was rewarding work, but it was heart-breaking."

Brown said that Moore was the first female veteran to speak at a Memorial Day ceremony in Largo.

She was instrumental in establishing the trauma registry with NATO forces, ensuring that trauma care was consistent and state of the art across all of the Middle East, Brown said.

Moore said she remembers holding a young captain struggling to "keep it together" for his men who were in a trauma unit.

"Not having the advantage I had. I had age, rank and motherhood," she said.

She asked the captain to come into her office and gave him a cup of coffee.

"I remember holding him and thinking I will never forget this soldier,” she said. "I will always be here for him. So that was a moment I will never forget," she said.

She told the audience that their presence speaks loudly.

"You came here tonight to honor those fallen who are no longer here with us," she said. "The families that have lost that bright light that will never shine again," she said. "Your presence matters. You remembered."

Representatives of the American Legion Post 119, Disabled American Veterans Association, Korean War Veterans, Military Officers Association of America, Military Order of the World Wars along with Largo officials were involved in planning this year's ceremony, which was moved from Largo Central Park to the Performing Arts Center because of rain.