Home Sweet Stucco
05/06/2015 10:27AM ● Published by Annette Winter
Gallery: Moretti Home [13 Images] Click any image to expand.
Last fall, Colonel Christopher S. Moretti, Sr. assumed command of the 82nd Airborne Division Artillery, more commonly known as DIVARTY. His wife, Deborah Moretti, took command of their new home in the Normandy Heights neighborhood on Fort Bragg.
The geometrically laid streets of perfectly manicured and maintained 1930s Spanish Eclectic-style homes are characterized by their gable tile roofs, stucco, arched passageways and copper gutters and downspouts. Passing by an ample playground, the Fort Bragg Club, the quaint Main Post Chapel, Ryder Golf Course and the endless green of the Main Post Parade Field, the charming Normandy neighborhood may look more like a standard country club community than a United States Army Post.
Drive on, and a glimpse of Fort Bragg’s Iron Mike statue, “The Airborne Trooper,” is a reminder that while Normandy may be a “gated” community of sorts, it is anything but ordinary.
The Moretti home is an equally formidable reminder.
Through the arch of the front porch, adorned with the 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regimental crimson and the gold crest of the 82nd Airborne DIVARTY and into the foyer, a look to the left reveals a living room with two strikingly red accent walls. A look to the right reveals a bright yellow dining room. “Please know the colors in our home have nothing to do with any sports team. They are the colors of the Field Artillery” said Deborah, an Army wife for more than 20 years.
From the original hardwood floors to the maid’s quarters, now a game room for their son, the history of the home is palpable. “I wouldn’t change a thing about it. This is tradition,” said Deborah of the historical home. “When I think of all the families that have lived in this house before us, if it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for us and it is a blessing to have the opportunity to be part of the most historic and decorated field artillery regimental family in the United States Army, the 82nd Airborne DIVARTY.”
Because the home was built in the early 1930s, it is classified as historical. Original to the home are windows, floors and sturdy stucco. Even the towering oak, magnolia and maple trees that line the streets are historically protected if they are more than 50 years old, but Deborah is quick to highlight what families living in the neighborhood can do in the way of décor preferences and what the Army has done to bring the home into the 21st century.
The kitchen, located in the rear of the home, has been updated. Lustrous cherry cabinets extend to the ceiling and stainless appliances and fixtures give the small but functional kitchen a more modern appearance. Sturdy, yet sleek, Corian countertops are well-suited to withstand the booms and shakes created by the 82nd Airborne DIVARTY.
A useful butler’s pantry connects the kitchen to the formal dining room, which is outfitted with an Italian hutch, sideboard and dining table for twelve that the Moretti family bought while stationed in Italy. Deborah’s great grandfather’s clock looms proudly in the corner of the room. “It doesn’t run right now,” said the seasoned moving expert, “but I’ll plan to get it fixed once we settle into our forever home.”
Red and yellow flowers in large vases can be found throughout the house to tie together the Field Artillery color scheme, but really, they are not vases. “Those are demijohns we brought back from Italy,” said Deborah offhandedly. Currently, authentic demijohns, used to transport wine in Europe, are exceedingly popular and a decorative staple featured in modern décor magazines, used as accent pieces to complement trendy rustic décor or even the clean lines of contemporary design.
Each room tells a story of former deployments, duty stations and the family’s proud history. Atop a built-in bookcase in the living room is the 48-Star Flag that Colonel Moretti’s great grandmother was presented when her husband’s remains were returned home three years after the conclusion of World War II. Christopher’s great grandfather, a United States Marine who served in the Pacific, was killed during the Battle of Iwo Jima on February 27, 1945. “Christopher takes the 48-Star Flag everywhere he travels and flies it each February 27th in honor of his great grandfather and all those whom served and bore the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our nation. Everywhere he’s gone, he’s flown it,” said Deborah. Among many locations, it has flown at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, Fort Bliss, Texas, Fort Drum, New York, Italy, Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan and Fort Bragg.
The floor of the living room is covered with a sizeable and intricately woven navy area rug. “Oh, Christopher brought that back from Afghanistan in a duffel bag,” Deborah laughed.
Perpendicular to the living room is the bar room, which comes in especially handy when the Moretti Family entertain. The large bar is from Italy and under the glass of the tabletop, Christopher’s challenge coins and medallions are displayed. Service coins originated as a way to prove membership to a particular branch of service. Now, the coins are used as rewards for outstanding service, in recognition of special visits and for morale. Coins are usually passed in a handshake, from the right hand of the giver to the right hand of the recipient.
“I don’t look at this house as just our home. This is DIVARTY’s home,” said Deborah. “We open it up to anyone in the 82nd Airborne DIVARTY family for any function, whether it’s a group of spouses meeting for coffee or a larger party.” In fact, Deborah doesn’t even have a favorite room in the home. “I love the foyer. It’s where we welcome our guests,” she said.
Offering even more space to entertain, the back yard is exactly as expected: well used and well maintained. The Spanish-style car garage is detached and accessible down a small ramp, and while it’s a tight fit for a modern car, it was the perfect size for a Ford Model-T.
Perhaps the most notable feature of the home isn’t in the home, at all. The front yard is home to a cannon oriented on azimuths, which are hand-made stepping stones that signify the 82nd Airborne DIVARTY, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment’s four field artillery battalions. Depending on the affiliation of the DIVARTY Paratrooper of the week, or other significant activity by a battalion, the cannon is reoriented to face the corresponding azimuth of the battalion the Paratrooper serves in. “The Paratroopers have a good time changing its direction and it’s fun to see them change it,” said Deborah.
Deborah counts among her hobbies woodworking (crests and symbols of their time spent at various duty stations adorn their walls), gardening and raising their children. “Well, the last one isn’t really a hobby, is it? It’s a must. I love it,” said the mom of three, who seems to have deployments and moving down to a science.
The family has changed duty stations the past three summers. Naturally, the home seems to strike a perfect balance of cozy and uncluttered. “We know all about the ‘PCS Purge,’ and I tell my kids, ‘If you don’t want to unpack it at the next place, don’t pack it here.’ In the same way, though, you have to be sensitive to what they might want when they get older, maybe even for their children. We definitely have a box or two of Legos in the basement,” Deborah laughed.
She knows that change is essential and mandatory in the lives of military families and counts Fort Bragg among her favorite duty stations. The family has been here three times and it was Christopher’s second duty station after they got married. The first two times they came to Fort Bragg, they lived in the Rockfish community. This time, due to Christopher’s position as the DIVARTY Commander, they decided to live on base. “You never know when they’ll need you, day or night. You need to be close, so that you can take care of your Paratroopers and their families.” Equally important in their decision to live on base is the strong sense of community support. “We are a closely knit family. I may not see my neighbor every day, but I know they’ve got my back,” said Deborah.
Of moving so frequently, Deborah finds that a positive attitude makes all the difference. She knows that one day she will diligently return the crimson and gold walls of the 82nd Airborne DIVARTY home to a neutral color to welcome the next commander and family beginning their duties at Fort Bragg. She knows the challenges and the anticipation. “Never let anyone tell you that there is nothing to do at a post you’re moving to,” said Deborah. “Each place is a new beginning and it’s all what you make of it.”