WELDON SPRING — Those who served with Sgt. Melvin Y. Mora remember his drive, his willingness to help and his unflappable good nature.
On Saturday, they watched as the Army Reserve Center in Weldon Spring was named in his honor. Mora, 27, was a physics student at the University of Missouri-Columbia and a native of Puerto Rico. He enlisted in the Army Reserve in 1998 and was deployed to Iraq in April 2004 with the Reserve’s 245th Maintenance Company.
He was killed June 6, 2004, when he was struck by shrapnel from a mortar attack on Camp Cooke, an Army camp about 12 miles north of Baghdad.
“It’s a fitting tribute to a soldier who meant a lot to the soldiers he served with. It’s a permanent remembrance of his sacrifice,” said Maj. Greg Borah of Shelbyville, Ill., who was Mora’s platoon leader in Iraq.
The 245th Maintenance Company had been based on Goodfellow Boulevard in St. Louis, but moved in 2012 to Weldon Spring.
The move to name that center in Mora’s honor was spearheaded by Sgt. 1st Class Alex Turley, who saw a plaque honoring Mora that spurred him to push for the name change.
Master Sgt. Mike Tuttle drove from his home in Omaha, Neb., to attend the ceremony on Saturday. He was Mora’s platoon sergeant in Iraq and said Mora was among the most motivated of his soldiers.
“He loved being the Army and he loved serving his country. I never saw him in a bad mood, ever. He was a real pleasure to be around,” Tuttle said.
Master Sgt. Charles Lee of Barnhart remembered Mora studying on a wooden folding table next to his bunk in Iraq. Mora once called out from behind that table and asked if Lee wanted to see Mora’s girlfriend — he picked up his spiral notebook and showed Lee a picture of the singer Beyoncé taped to the back.
Mora is survived by his parents, Hermes Mora and Irma Lopez-Ramon of Arecibo, Puerto Rico; and three brothers.
Mora was awarded several medals after his death, including the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star. Mizzou also posthumously awarded him a bachelor of science degree in May 2005 and established a scholarship fund for physics students in his name.
After the official dedication ceremony ended, members of the 245th Maintenance Company gathered for pictures to commemorate Mora’s newest honor — the newly unveiled sign marking the Sgt. Melvin Y. Mora United States Army Reserve Center.