03/18/13 — Woman first to lead American Legion post

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Woman first to lead American Legion post

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on March 18, 2013 1:46 PM

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Zoe Mossberg, a post commander in District 7 of the American Legion, speaks to fellow legionnaires during a weekly meeting at the American Legion building in Mount Olive on Thursday.

Zoe Mossberg never set out to be the first female commander of her American Legion post -- she wanted to continue to serve.

The Montana native retired from the Army in May 2011 after nearly 28 years in uniform.

At the age of 47, she spent six years active duty and the remainder with the N.C. Army National Guard. Among her assignments were Fort Dix, N.J., Indianapolis, Maryland and Hawaii. She went into inactive status in 1990, when she had her first child.

She first came to North Carolina when her then-husband was stationed at Fort Bragg.

After her divorce, she remained in North Carolina, working primarily at installations up and down eastern North Carolina, including Clinton, Kinston, New Bern and Dunn, as well as Fremont and Farmville. She was deployed several times, the most recent to Iraq in 2009 for nearly 10 months.

She has since remarried, to Keith Mossberg of Kinston, and has three children -- Scott Rackley, 23, who lives in Clinton; Jamison Robertson 23, married and attending East Carolina University; and Alissa Mossberg, 16, a student at South Lenoir High School.

Mrs. Mossberg is taking advantage of the GI Bill and finishing her business degree at Lenoir Community College, with plans to earn a four-year degree in history.

Her affiliation with American Legion came about three years ago, while she was processing for retirement, she said. But the seed had been planted years before, during one of her returns from a military assignment.

"When I got off the airplane at Fort Stewart, Ga., that's not where my family was, we didn't get to come home to our family," she said. "When I got off the airplane and I walked into the USO building, there was a Legionnaire there. He was there to greet me, to hug me and welcome me home.

"I will never forget that. It just made a lasting impression on me and when I got out. I served soldiers all my life, I was HR (human resources). I wanted to do something to continue that service and continue the service for veterans and also my community as well."

When a neighbor who was in the ladies auxiliary invited her to attend an American Legion meeting, she wound up joining but didn't become active until after she retired.

"I have been working with them ever since, trying to build the membership, let the veterans in Mount Olive know that we're there," she said. "What attracted me to Mount Olive was they have a great membership, such a history. A lot of them are World War II, Korean, some Vietnam veterans.

"They're all veterans that paved the way for me, made my job easier. I have a soft spot for those types of veterans because they made a tremendous sacrifice."

It was only when she was elected post commander that she learned she was the first female to hold that position, both in Mount Olive and throughout District 7.

"I was very shocked when they elected me, simply because of the era they come from. There's a big age difference and gender, but they're very, very supportive," she said. "I have a lot of respect for them and admiration."

These days she considers the club members to be her friends, much like she experienced during her days in service.

"The group of guys that I'm with, they came up with the military -- no females other than the WAC Corps and the nurse's corps -- I wasn't sure how they would receive me," she said. "But I can honestly say they were all veterans and we're all veterans and there's no difference.

"They have supported my ideas and we have supported each other in serving our community. It's just a great honor for me to be part of their history."

At present, the Mount Olive club has about 75 members. Mrs. Mossberg said she hopes to see it grow and support others with a military background.

They meet once a month for a fellowship meal followed by a business meeting.

For more information on the local group, call 252-526-1794.