Protecting with purpose: Alex Moore’s path from Auburn to international diplomacy

Protecting with purpose title
Alex Moore’s path from Auburn to international diplomacy
Weston Ball
From the heart of the Plains to the war-torn streets of Beirut to the beaches of Normandy, retired special agent and political science alumnus Alex Moore’s ‘80 life has blended commitment and courage. With Auburn serving as the launching pad for a journey that spans the globe, Moore, now an author, reflects on his career with pride.
Photo credit: Jaycie Smith

oore’s connection to Auburn runs deep, embedded within a family tradition that spans generations.

“We’re an Auburn family,” said Moore. “My sister graduated from Auburn, and I never considered another place. My son went to Auburn, and my nieces and nephews went to Auburn, so it’s always been Auburn.”

Inspired by a trip to the FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C., as a kid, Moore studied criminal justice, located in the Department of Political Science at the time. As he advanced through the program, Moore’s mentor and Auburn Mayor Donald Hayhurst encouraged him to explore public service as a city councilman.

“I wanted to be in law enforcement,” said Moore. “After talking with Professor Hayhurst, he convinced me to run for the Auburn City Council. That set me on a different path toward public administration.”

Elected in 1981 at the age of 21, Moore was the youngest elected official in Alabama at the time. Throughout his term on the Auburn City Council, Moore gained a deeper understanding of local politics.

“As a graduate student in political science, serving on the city council was a great experience,” said Moore. “We were dealing with noise ordinances, dog ordinances, leash laws and all the things that local politics deal with, including cleanup costs when Toomer’s Corner was rolled. Auburn was also trying to grow as a city, so it was a tremendous learning experience.”

Alex Moore in security car at the UN
While in graduate school, Moore applied to the U.S. State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service. As a special agent in the Diplomatic Security Service, Moore found himself navigating the intricacies of international diplomacy. His primary mission was to “provide a secure environment for the conduct of diplomacy,” a mission that took him from the remoteness of Australia to a crisis in Haiti and the tragedy of a tsunami in Sri Lanka.

Moore’s movie-like experiences were the result of a fascinating career where he served both domestically and abroad.

“I think being a Special Agent in the Diplomatic Security Service is one of the coolest jobs on the planet,” said Moore. “I interacted with some of the most influential people in the world and was often involved in the world’s most critical events. I served as a personal bodyguard to such dignitaries as Princess Diana, Yasser Arafat and the Dalai Lama.”

Alex Moore on duty at the UN
“Similar to the military, tours overseas at American embassies were required, where I became part of the State Department’s Diplomatic Corps. Overseas, our primary responsibilities were anti-terrorism and counterintelligence, but as a federal law enforcement officer, I also dealt with all crime-related issues including passport fraud, human smuggling, counterfeiting, narcotics trafficking and wanted fugitives. It was a great career.”

After two decades away from Alabama, Moore reconnected with Hayhurst at an Auburn event where he learned of Hayhurst’s experience in the Allied Invasion of Normandy during World War ll. Hayhurst expressed his desire to return to France and Moore, having visited Normandy before, honored his professor’s wishes.

Alex Moore and Donald Hayhurst visiting Normandy
“Hayhurst was 94 years old at the time. When I took him back to Normandy, he really responded well. I was stunned to see him treated like a rockstar,” said Moore. “He wore a World War II veteran hat throughout his visit and crowds of people greeted him. Rows of Canadian school kids lined the sidewalk to shake his hand. Young French children wanted to have their picture taken with him. Spanish, English and Dutch citizens gathered around him at the American cemetery and listened to his stories, just to hear an important part of history firsthand.”

The experience touched Moore in ways he never imagined. Upon his passing, Hayhurst’s family revealed how much the trip impacted the professor.

Alex Moore and Hilary Clinton posing for picture with flags in background
I think being a Special Agent in the Diplomatic Security Service is one of the coolest jobs on the planet,” said Moore. “I interacted with some of the most influential people in the world and was often involved in the world’s most critical events. I served as a personal bodyguard to such dignitaries as Princess Diana, Yasser Arafat and the Dalai Lama.
“It turned out to be such a heartwarming experience. Hayhurst passed away this past April and he’s buried in Auburn now,” said Moore. “At the funeral, family and friends told me the trip was the highlight of the last ten years of his life. That’s all he wanted to talk about. For me, it was something very, very worthwhile to do.”

Moore shared an in-depth account of Hayhurst’s experiences in Normandy for WLRH 89.3 FM’s Sundial Writers Corner on June 6 and Dec. 12, 2022.

After decades of an adventure-filled career, one might expect Moore to live a quiet retirement, but Moore admits it can be difficult to step away completely, referencing the instincts and experiences gained over decades of service.

“It’s hard to walk away from a professional commitment made for 24 years,” said Moore. “Our embassy in Khartoum was recently evacuated and it reminded me of my experience in evacuating that same embassy in 1986. I see natural disasters on TV and I’m reminded of the tsunami that hit Sri Lanka while I was assigned there. When Prince Charles became ‘King’ of Britain, I was reminded of taking him and Princess Diana to play polo in Florida many years ago.”

Alex Moore and others at Auburn
Inspired by his experiences and his commitment to history, Moore channeled his feelings and stories into a novel, a fictional work grounded in real events. The novel, titled “Boundary Hunter,” follows the adventure of fictional Diplomatic Security Agent Cam Coppenger as he attempts to stop terrorist attacks on American soil.

“I realized that I’ve been involved in many significant world events and wanted to document my career in novel form,” said Moore. “So, hopefully, readers will better understand how the relatively unknown Diplomatic Security Service works.”

A sequel to “Boundary Hunter” is in the works, titled “Twisted Logic.” Moore will continue to write Cam Coppenger’s story to take readers on the globe-trotting adventures he once lived in the Diplomatic Security Service, imparting what he’s learned about the importance of experience, determination and cooperation in crisis resolution.
“I’ve had a great life,” Moore said. “And I owe it all to Auburn.”