Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Retired Canadian soldier gets belated share of 1988 Nobel Peace Prize

Robert Moore shows the Nobel Peace Prize medal he received for his service in the initial United Nations peacekeeping forces in the 1950s.


Robert Moore shows the Nobel Peace Prize medal he received for his service in the initial United Nations peacekeeping forces in the 1950s.

LUTZ — As the world witnessed riots and chaos in Egypt last week, memories came flooding back for a Pasco man recently honored for his peacekeeping efforts in the same region more than five decades ago.

When retired Canadian Army Lt. Col. Robert Moore landed via aircraft carrier at the Suez Canal in 1957 as part of the United Nations' first-ever peacekeeping mission, he could not have imagined his service would one day earn him mention with a Nobel Peace Prize.

Moore and 6,000 soldiers from 11 countries had been sent by the U.N. to the canal a year after Egypt took control of the crucial waterway from the British and French. Both countries responded by invading Egypt to take back the canal.

Meanwhile, on another front, Israel also invaded Egypt, setting off a crisis that gripped the world. British and French forces later agreed to pull out as the U.N. stepped in to defuse the crisis, sending its first generation of peacekeepers to monitor a tentative situation as Israel also pulled back.

When Moore, then barely in his 20s, arrived at the Suez Canal, the Toronto native observed two things: He was making history, and his life was in danger.

"I remember standing on the aircraft carrier and our captain telling us we were making history, and once we were on the ground, I knew he was right," Moore said.

He also saw dozens of vessels sunk in the canal — steel victims of recent heavy combat — as an ominous sign that violence could erupt at any moment. "It was an eerie sight," Moore said.

The mission was an effort that would earn the U.N. coalition's architect — Canada's eventual Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson — the Nobel Peace Prize in 1957.

But what Moore, now 75, learned just last month is that every soldier who served on peacekeeping missions for the U.N. between 1956 and 1988 had earned a piece of the 1988 Nobel Peace Prize as the world's first generation of peacekeepers.

"I was on the Internet and came across a news story about it," Moore said. "So I sent in my credentials and they sent me the award. I was truly honored."

On Tuesday, Pasco Commissioner Pat Mulieri presented a medal to Moore at the commission's weekly meeting. Two days later Moore sat in his Paradise Lakes living room and recalled joining the army in 1953, and, while stationed on a base in Canada three days before Christmas, learning he was headed to the Suez Canal.

His unit left on Christmas Day on an aircraft carrier that would dock at Port Said at the canal. From there the men rode in trucks across the Sinai desert and into the Gaza strip, where they would station in the city of Rafah.

It was a treacherous trip across a desert littered with mines. Moore remembers at least a dozen Canadian soldiers killed in explosions while making the trip. He also saw a local farmer on a camel explode in front of his eyes after tripping a mine.

The horrors of war left mental scars on Moore, especially the sight of hundreds of dead Egyptian soldiers left rotting in the desert after battle, and the eerie vision of a sea of combat boots left in the sand.

"The Egyptian soldiers grew up without shoes, so when they ran from the Israeli army they would take their shoes off. Of course, we also found the soldiers who didn't make it," Moore said. "We called that area 'The Valley of the Boots.' "

For a young man who had never left North America, the sight of a near riot when his unit gave out food to the locals also shocked him.

"I had never seen starvation, so it really affected me. It makes you grow up fast," he said.

The 18 months Moore spent in Egypt and Gaza forever changed him and his perspective on the world. He would go on to serve in other far-off places like Tanzania, and he served at the Pentagon. But all along, his time as a peacekeeper in the Middle East has captured his imagination.

Moore still spends much of his time reading and learning about the Middle East, and he watches current events there like a hawk. So the irony is not lost on him that Egypt is once again in chaos, even as Moore received honors this week for keeping the peace there so long ago.

"The Middle East has always been a volatile region, and I'm afraid it always will be. I have spent a lot of time studying it and thinking about solutions for making life better there," he said.

Retired Canadian soldier gets belated share of 1988 Nobel Peace Prize 01/29/11 [Last modified: Saturday, January 29, 2011 2:02pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. PolitiFact Florida: Claim that 5.7 million noncitizens voted is wrong

    State Roundup

    President Donald Trump's unfounded allegations that millions voted illegally in 2016 is back in the news, with his supporters pointing to a new analysis that claims millions of undocumented immigrants voted in 2008.

    Instances of noncitizens voting have been reported, but evidence points to a small number among millions of votes cast.  
  2. For Fourth of July, an American feast inspired by founding father Alexander Hamilton


    Are there a million things you haven't done? Is one of them throwing a patriotic party inspired by one of the founding fathers?

    Caribbean Pork With Potato Salad makes for the perfect Fourth of July meal.
  3. 'Baby Driver' literally turns heist movie genre on its ear, set to slick soundtrack


    Buckle up for Baby Driver, a movie so full throttle cool that you want to fist bump the screen. Style is the substance of Edgar Wright's inventive heist flick, a fresh, masterful synching of music and getaway mayhem, as if La La Land's traffic jam was moving, armed and dangerous.

    Baby (Ansel Elgort) is a getaway driver for heist arranger Doc (Kevin Spacey). Plagued by tinnitus, Baby tunes out his distracting “hum in the drum” by listening to music while he drives.
Sony Pictures
  4. Former mayor Rick Baker, left, is challenging incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman, right, to become St. Petersburg mayor
  5. Life after HB7069 to be discussed at Pinellas school district workshop


    The Pinellas County school district is still trying to navigate life after the controversial passage of HB7069.