WINTHROP — Pfc. Jeff Moore, home for the holidays after serving a tour of duty in Iraq, sat on the couch of his father’s Mount Pisgah Road home the day after Christmas and described working in 140-degree heat fixing diesel generators at a military base near Tallil, Iraq.

It was the same couch where, not so long ago, after high school and before enlisting, he spent a whole lot of time doing nothing.

“The Army has changed me,” said the 22-year-old 2008 Winthrop High School graduate. “I matured more than I expected. It has made me realize you can do more with your life than live off somebody else. Having money and being able to do things for yourself makes you feel good.”

Moore, who returned stateside in November after 10 months in Iraq, served at Contingency Operating Base Adder, which is about 185 miles south of Baghdad. He described his time there as relatively safe, even vacation-like compared to where some of his fellow soldiers are serving — such as Afghanistan, where his company, now stationed at Fort Hood in Texas, tentatively is expected to deploy to sometime in 2014.

“I was nervous at first, but there was no reason to be,” Moore said. “It was pretty safe there. We just got mortared a couple of times. Everybody came home safe.”

“Safe is good. That’s what we want,” chimed in Moore’s father, George. “It’s nice to have him home. It has been quite a while. We’re proud of him. He’s a changed young man.”

While George Moore noted serving in a military conflict can be hard on many soldiers, physically and mentally, he said the Army has been good for his son.

Jeff spent time with his dad and stepmom, Penny Moore, on Christmas, as well as his mom, Darlene Moore, of Wayne, and other family members.

Even though he has been out of Iraq since November, he said he didn’t really feel like he was “home” until seeing family back in Maine.

Darlene Moore’s special Christmas present to her son was a book she’d put together focusing on his first year in the Army. George Moore got his son an old Springfield military rifle.

Moore is in Maine until Jan. 6, when he heads back to Fort Hood.

Before then, he plans to spend more time with family and friends, including a party in South Portland on New Year’s Eve his friend is throwing for him as a welcome home party.

Until the military started pulling out of Iraq, Moore was able to communicate with family over the Internet, although the communications systems were taken down toward the end of his deployment as the war in Iraq neared its end.

He also received care packages, including large boxes sent by Carolyn Crews, a North Carolina woman, previously a stranger, who connected with him through the Soldiers’ Angels program.

Moore, whose contracted commitment to the Army ends in July 2013, is undecided about whether he will re-enlist. He said he’s considering doing so because of how the Army has changed him, and because it would provide a steady paycheck in an unsteady economy.

However, he also wants to go to college. Whenever he gets out of the Army, he plans to attend the University of Northwestern Ohio to study diesel or small-vehicle technology.

“I’m looking forward to doing what I love best. That’s working on vehicles,” said Moore, whose 2009 Toyota Corolla is almost paid off. “I was born and raised a mechanic.”

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

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