Samuel Moses, 93 decorated war veteran, Sears executive
The Philadelphia Inquirer
Samuel Moses, 93, of Ivyland, a decorated World War II veteran and career executive with Sears, Roebuck & Co., died Saturday, March 2, of renal failure at home.
Born in 1919 in Donora, Pa., to Asa and Mary Moses, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1939 on graduation from Donora High School, where he and future baseball Hall of Famer Stan Musial were teammates.
Mr. Moses, a gunner and radio operator, was stationed with the 11th Heavy Bombardment Group on Dec. 7, 1941, when Japanese planes came roaring over Pearl Harbor.
"We thought it was the Navy on maneuvers, but then the bombs exploded. It was complete chaos," he told family members later.
Mr. Moses earned the American Defense Service Medal with Bronze Star and the Distinguished Flying Cross, some of the Army's highest awards, for service on 50 bombing missions in the Pacific. But one was so dramatic he told children about it when he gave schoolhouse talks years later:
On Nov. 18, 1942, he was radio operator on a B-17 bomber when the plane was hit by enemy air fire. With two engines out on the left and the right wing on fire, the pilot killed and copilot wounded, the aircraft seemed doomed.
But a second pilot who happened to be aboard took the controls. With the plane's cargo of bombs stuck in their bays, that pilot - LaVerne G. "Blondie" Saunders - took a chance and crash-landed the B-17 into the Pacific near Bougainville Island.
"It was very scary. They thought they were going to die when the plane landed," Mr. Moses' son Daniel said. "The plane broke in half, but the bombs didn't explode."
Mr. Moses told his family that he and the crew were rescued by islanders in canoes and taken ashore to recover and radio for help. Three days later, they were picked up by Navy pontoon planes.
"He came out without a scratch," Daniel Moses said of his father. "The pilot and copilot were lost, but the crew stayed in touch for the rest of their lives."
After the war, Mr. Moses returned to a hero's welcome. He enrolled at the University of Pittsburgh on the GI Bill and earned a bachelor's degree in business. In 1948, he began 39 years with Sears.
He started out as a service manager in Johnstown, Pa., and served as store manager in Ohio, Maryland, and West Virginia before rising in 1971 to manager of the Philadelphia store on Roosevelt Boulevard. He retired in 1987.
He lived in Huntingdon Valley, where he and his wife, the former Laura McClure, raised a family. The two had been introduced by friends in college.
In retirement, Mr. Moses got busy. He founded and served as chair of the Jenkintown branch of the Service Corps of Retired Executives. The group is a service branch of the Small Business Association that mentors aspiring small-business owners.
During his 17 years of leadership, the group grew from four to 33 counselors and from one to two offices.
Mr. Moses also chaired the 11th Bombardment Group as it marked the 50th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. He flew his family to Hawaii to commemorate the occasion.
Mr. Moses returned to Hawaii in 1995 on the 50th anniversary of the Japanese surrender. He was honored by being able to meet then-President Bill Clinton and play golf with him.
"He had a blast," his son said. "He was a Republican all his life, but Clinton won him over with his charm."
Surviving, in addition to his son, are sons Douglas, David, and Richard; six grandchildren; and two sisters. His wife, two brothers, and two sisters died earlier.
Interment with full military honors will be at 11 a.m. Thursday, April 4, in Washington Crossing National Cemetery, 830 Highland Rd., Newtown, Bucks County.