Father inspired Estacada resident toward lifetime of service
Through his experience in the U.S. Army, Estacada resident James Moriarty served his country in a variety of ways.
Moriarty, who moved to Estacada last December, was in the military from 1991-99. He was inspired to join by his father, who also served in the Army. Both Moriarty and his father graduated from Norwich University, a military school in Vermont.
Moriarty also spent 24 years working for the U.S. Border Patrol.
But prior to that, he served in the Army after his graduation from Norwich University. He was stationed in Fort Knox, Kentucky; Fort Bragg, North Carolina; and Fort Benning, Georgia. He also served stateside during the Gulf War.
Shortly after graduation, Moriarty put to use what he had learned in school.
"It was a lot of fun learning for years how to be in whatever service you're in — Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, and then applying that," he said. "Desert Shield started when I was a senior at college. All the people I was in school with who just got commissioned had just went to their basic officer courses, and they're already over 7,000 miles away."
For Moriarty, a typical day consisted of "a lot of training."
"We always had the privilege of being up in the front infantry," he said. "We'd have briefings of the rounds we had."
He appreciates the perspective he gained from working with people from across the country.
"It was always a lot of fun. You're always learning. There were so many different people," he said.
When Moriarty retired from the Army as a lieutenant, he took a position in San Diego, where he worked for the U.S. Border Patrol, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection's federal law enforcement division within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Shortly after he began, the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks occurred.
"I'll never forget that day," Moriarty said. "My dad called me that morning and said, 'You need to turn the TV on.' …The second I turned it on, the second plane hit the South Tower. I was scared. My dad told me he was scared, and my dad was never scared."
The events inspired Moriarty to build a career with the Border Patrol, where he remained for 24 years.
"It was the Wild West. Imagine you're at your port of entry. At 10:30 at night, someone jumps the fence. You process them and bring them back to the station," he said. "We'd catch maybe 1,000 people in eight hours back then."
Moriarty credits his time in the Army with preparing him for his career in the Border Patrol.
"Just like in the Army, we always had the right tools, and we always did a lot with a little," he said. "The Army gives you a sense of ranks, and how to act. When I was in the patrol, I could always tell who the soldiers were. It was so easy."
Moriarty's time with the patrol wasn't always easy. He noted that a typical day often resembled "a cat and mouse game."
"I broke several bones. I had some severe injuries, but it's all part of doing business," he said. "I would always tell the guys, your boots look dirty, and that's OK.
"In the service, you always had boots that were very good, and very presentable. One pair was for going to parades or ceremonies, and then we had the ones that we worked in. In the Border Patrol, you can't wear shiny boots. If you're sitting at a trail, waiting for 50 people to come at you, they'd be able to see you."
He has many memories from his time in the Border Patrol.
"I hope I can write a book about it someday," he said.
Upon retiring from the Border Patrol, Moriarty moved to Estacada to be closer to his family. He is a driver for the Estacada Community Center's Meals on Wheels program, serves on the Estacada Cemetery Maintenance Board, and is a member of the Estacada American Legion Carl Douglas Post.
Moriarty also strives to stay in touch with people he met through his time in the Army and Norwich University.
"I have friends that have Gulf War syndrome, and PTSD. (I tell them) 'You need me, I'm there. It doesn't matter what time. Call me whenever,'" he said.
He appreciates being involved with local groups in Estacada.
"It's been a good transition. The American Legion here in town has helped me learn more about the community," he said.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.