Army dad watches from Afghanistan as son wins award at Ga. school

Spc. Chan Moore watched presentation ceremony via Skype connection

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BRUNSWICK, Ga.  -- When Sterling Elementary School named its Golden Rule Award winners Friday, the gym bleachers were crowded with proud parents and grandparents.

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Sterling Elementary School second grader Griffin Moore catches sight of his father's image projected on the gym wall after Griffin won the school's Golden Rule Award. Spc. Chan Griffin had watched from Afghanistan via Skype as his son accepted the award.
  Terry Dickson/ Morris News Service
Terry Dickson/ Morris News Service
Sterling Elementary School second grader Griffin Moore catches sight of his father's image projected on the gym wall after Griffin won the school's Golden Rule Award. Spc. Chan Griffin had watched from Afghanistan via Skype as his son accepted the award.

As second grader Griffin Moore accepted his classroom award and then the school award, his father Spc. Chan Moore watched via Skype from an Army base somewhere in Afghanistan. Griffin didn’t even know his father was watching until he was called up for the big award and was told to turn around for a special guest. That’s when his father’s image was projected on the gym wall.

Griffin looked sort of deadpan at first, said a quiet hello to his father and then squinted into a grin.

His mother Gayle Moore and his sister Reece, a student from Jane Macon Middle School across the road, came to the front to tell Spc. Moore they loved and missed him.

It was supposed to have been a surprise for Gayle Moore, too, but her husband “spilt the beans,’’ as she put it. Knowing what was coming, she already had a soaked tissue balled up in her hand. She and Reece were still wiping tears as they joined Griffin at the front.

It had the feel of a low-key game show as Principal Kelly Howe handed Griffin his Golden Rule T-shirt and gave him a gift certificate that goes with the win.

After the school assembly, Reece said, “It was cool,’’ as she still cried a little.

“I miss him,’’ she said.

As for Griffin, he couldn’t do much more than nod and shrug because of a cold that took his voice.

He managed to say that seeing his father was, “Great.”

Her husband deployed in September with the 82nd Airborne and they talk once a week and “email constantly,’’ Gayle Griffin said.

It’s not always so emotional, she said, but this will be the first Christmas her husband has not been with his family.

Chan Moore is 40 and enlisted two years ago when the economy went bad and with it his business as a residential construction contractor, she said.

“He always wanted to do it and just never did,’’ she said of his joining the Army. “He figured, ‘Why not?’"

“So you support him,’’ although it’s hard living apart, she said.

Chan Moore can’t tell his family specifically where he is deployed and working on helicopter turbine repairs. They just know he’s somewhere in the mountains near the Pakistan border.

When it was clear that Griffin would win, the school staff arranged for the hookup in about two weeks, counselor Jon Roy said.

The award in Glynn County schools was established by Katz-Helen and Roy Whittle Jr. Foundation to encourage and reward children who exemplify the characteristics of the Golden Rule. The children and teachers who nominate recipients write about what they have done for others from accepting others students into their groups or helping others.

Griffin’s teacher, Ann Harper, said she and others had kept the hookup secret from Griffin.

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Craig Spinks
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Craig Spinks 12/10/11 - 12:59 pm
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