Paul J. Moon, 94, of Alma passed peacefully of natural causes on June 19, 2020, at his home. He was born June 2, 1926, in Hobbtown to Rufus Paul and Rosanah Maud (Neal) Moon.
The youngest of his family, Paul was preceded in death by his parents and all of his seven siblings, Lester Moon, Ivan Moon, Hazel Fordham, Jessie Morrison, Rufus Neal Moon, Pearl Stanfield and Walter "Bill Jack" Moon. His mother passed from a complication of childbirth and Paul was raised by family, including his sisters. Even though he was quite the ladies man, he never married; and while he had no children of his own (that we know of), he was proudly loved by a large family of nieces and nephews: five nephews, five nieces, seven great-nephews, nine great-nieces, 15 great-great-nephews and 14 great-great-nieces. There was a particular connection with his nephew Neal Moon and family. Uncle Paul was always there — Saturday morning donuts, spitting watermelon seeds under the big oak tree, driving through the field to choose a Christmas tree, riding in parades, attending graduations, the birth of children and various other celebratory and ordinary occasions. His "Earth Angel" Cindy Williams and namesake John Paul Williams helped him fight bladder cancer with weekly trips to Little Rock for treatment; a cancer he survived for more than 18 years.
A graduate of Alma High School, Paul joined the U.S. Navy and served briefly in World War II before returning home and getting into a little bit of trouble. After a short stay "away," he was advised the military would be the best thing for his future. Thus, began a 20-plus year military career in the U.S. Army. Serving in the Korean War he often told how he thought he would freeze to death due to a lack of proper resources and gear. There was no line he would not cross, including the 38th parallel (we have the picture). Upon his return from war, his duty stations took him around the world including Panama, where he protected the U.S. interest in the Panama Canal; and Germany, where he witnessed the building of the Berlin Wall. According to legend, German ladies were quite fond of his wit and bald head and the German troops enjoyed the back and forth volleys of whatever projectile was handy to toss over The Wall. Back stateside, Moon served as a drill sergeant and was commended for outstanding leadership among his platoons, graduating 100 percent of his recruits. Then came Vietnam, where one tour of duty was not enough — his brother was captured in Laos and Paul felt a certain duty to go back and avenge his death. During this time, Paul earned many commendations including a Bronze Star with valor. A vast collection of photos and stories has been left for us to never forget his duty to country.
Moon, as many people knew him, was a fashionable man in his freshly starched Levi's, button-down shirt and shiny gold-tipped boots; and then later in life, freshly starched overalls. He'd go to town to "chase wild women" when in reality he would run a pool table and throw some bones. Then he'd buy you a Harvey Wallbanger with the money he just won from you and tell you his best dirty joke, laughing all the while. He had a love for pretty things, especially cars and red-headed women. Over the years, he owned cars of all kinds: '55 Thunderbird, '61 Jaguar shipped straight home from Germany, '65 Mustang Boss Hoss, Old Blue, Proud Mary and The 'Bird. He was a member of the Crawford County Car Club and a staple in parades across the region. His love of cars went beyond ownership, as he loved drag racing, dirt track racing, NASCAR races and car shows. He loved tinkering on his old cars and most of his car problems were because of his tinkering. His favorite hangout was J&J for breakfast, where he had built an additional family of friends over the years.
We've learned many lessons from him over the years. First, and foremost, never fall for the phrase "pull my finger" plus "drinking coffee will put hair on your chest," "turn and face the sun and you will grow," "you'll slumber in the bed" and "bald is beautiful." Life certainly won't be the same without him here with us.
U.S. military honors will be given during his service at 10 a.m. Tuesday, June 30 at the U.S. National Cemetery in Fort Smith. Arrangements are under the direction of Ocker Funeral Home in Van Buren.
Visitation will be held from 5-7 p.m. Monday at the funeral home.
Published in Press Argus-Courier from Jun. 25 to Jun. 29, 2020.