• warning: Parameter 2 to ed_classified_link_alter() expected to be a reference, value given in /home/soloneconomist/www/www/includes/common.inc on line 2968.
  • warning: Parameter 2 to ed_classified_link_alter() expected to be a reference, value given in /home/soloneconomist/www/www/includes/common.inc on line 2968.

Moel is Military Hero of the Game for UI v. Nebraska

Survivor of USS Gambier Bay honored by Hawkeyes

IOWA CITY– Solon’s Dean Moel, a survivor of the sinking of the USS Gambier Bay by Japanese forces during World War II, will be honored by the University of Iowa football program during its Friday, Nov. 27, game hosting Nebraska.
Moel was selected as the Military Hero of the Game and will be recognized during the radio broadcast and social media posts leading up to the gridiron contest.
Moel was born a little bit northeast of Sutliff, in Cedar County, and spent time in Central City, Cedar Bluff and Nevada (Iowa) before settling in Cedar Rapids.
He quit high school in September of 1943 to join the United States Navy during WWII and was assigned as a crewman on a twin 40mm gun on the USS Gambier Bay, a Casablanca-class escort carrier. While participating in the throes of the Battle of Leyte (Laytee) Gulf in the Philippine Sea, which historians have cited as one of the greatest “Last Stands” in naval history, the USS Gambier Bay was pummeled by shells from the Japanese battleship Yamamoto.
Taking on water and beginning to list, the ship’s crew continued to fight and helped the US Naval force turn back the much larger armada of ships from the Japanese Imperial Fleet.
As his ship began to burn and sink, Dean made a 60-foot jump into the sea. He and his shipmates floated for over 48 hours and drifted more than 60 miles in shark-infested waters without food or drinkable water before being rescued.
After recovering from the injuries he sustained, Moel returned to Cedar Rapids in April of 1946. He married wife Betty in 1947 and the couple had five children: Jack, Mike, Gary, Linda and Patti.
Moel went back to high school, at the age of 21, and got his high school diploma.
Moel was awarded the Victory Medal, Asiatic Pacific Area Campaign Medal, American Area Campaign Medal, as well as the Presidential Unit Citation. He was offered a Purple Heart but declined it.
On Oct. 25, 2019, Dean attended the 75th and last reunion of the survivors of the USS Gambier Bay. Dean, the USS Gambier Bay, and its crew are immortalized on the Johnson County Freedom Rock located in the Veterans Memorial Park in Solon.
Moel was nominated for the honor by Denny Hansen on behalf of the Solon American Legion.
“I get the Hawk Sports email which gives information and updates on Hawkeye Sports,” Hansen explained. “There was a small message asking for nominations, so I click on the link and filled out the nomination form and submitted it in the Legion’s name.”
GameDay Live for the Iowa-Nebraska contest begins at 10 a.m. ahead of a 12 p.m. kickoff.