Just 90 miles from Cuba, Key West is known for its water sports, history, and nightlife. It is also home to one of the most rigorous training centers the U.S. Army has to offer, the Special Forces Underwater Operations School, and its Combat Diver Qualification Course. Army Combat Diver is a qualification earned by completing an extensive six-week academic and physical training course which is consistently considered to be one of the toughest in the military. Participants in the course include Green Berets, Army Rangers, and West Point Cadets. To be selected for the course, candidates must pass an intense physical fitness and swim test. Yet, on average, one-third of the elite soldiers who attempt the Combat Diver Course fail to complete it.
One local family has beaten those odds. This year, 2016 Springfield High School graduate Second Lieutenant (2LT) Josh Moore, the son of Tim and Donna Moore of Springfield, followed in his two older brothers’ footsteps and earned the coveted Combat Diver badge. All three of the Moores began their military careers while still students at Springfield High by enlisting in the National Guard. They then attended and graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Captain (CPT) Jimmy Moore, a 2017 West Point grad, is an Army Ranger and a veteran of two wartime tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. He earned his Combat Diver badge in 2015. Joe Moore, a First Lieutenant (1LT), graduated from West Point in 2020 and earned his Combat Diver badge in 2019. Joe is an Infantry Officer with the First Infantry Division in Fort Riley, Kansas. Josh Moore, who graduated from West Point this year, is an Aviation Officer at Fort Rucker, Alabama.
Tim and Donna are the parents of seven and raised their children with the idea that if you love your country, you want to give back. They are parents who lead by example. Tim served as a Captain (CPT) for 10 years in the Army and National Guard, while Donna served for 20 years in the Army and National Guard, retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel (LTC).
The Combat Diver Qualification Course is both mentally and physically demanding. Divers are trained to remain calm under water in high pressure situations. For example, divers must complete a one-man confidence exam during which they must accomplish critical tasks under water while their ability to see and to breathe are both impaired.
Combat Divers are taught to use closed circuit oxygen rebreather equipment, as compared to the more familiar open circuit Scuba equipment. The difference? With open circuit equipment, when a diver exhales underwater, bubbles rise to the surface, signaling the diver’s location. The closed circuit rebreather scrubs exhaled gases and recycles unused oxygen back to the diver with additional pure oxygen as needed. There are no bubbles, so the diver is undetectable from the surface.
Combat Divers modestly refer to their training as “just another way of getting to work.” However, a Combat Diver’s ability to infiltrate an area by water without being detected provides a valuable capability for our military.
Many thanks to the Moore family for their contributions to the Army and for helping the United States military remain the best trained fighting force in the World.