Hal Moore

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Harold Gregory Moore Jr.
LTG(R) Hal Moore at West Point 10 May 2010.JPG
Moore at the United States Military Academy in May 2010
Nickname(s)"Hal", "Yellow Hair"
Born(1922-02-13)February 13, 1922
Bardstown, Kentucky
DiedFebruary 10, 2017(2017-02-10) (aged 94)
Auburn, Alabama
Fort Benning Cemetery
AllegianceUnited States
Service/branchUnited States Army
Years of service1945–1977
RankLieutenant General
Commands heldArmy Military Personnel Center
Fort Ord Army Training Center
7th Infantry Division
3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division
1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment
2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment
Battles/warsKorean War
Vietnam War
AwardsDistinguished Service Cross
Army Distinguished Service Medal
Legion of Merit (3)
Bronze Star Medal (4) w/ "V" Device
Purple Heart
Air Medal (9)
Spouse(s)Julia Compton Moore (m.1949–2004; her death)[1]
Relations5 children, 12 grandchildren
Other workWe Were Soldiers Once… And Young
We Are Soldiers Still: A Journey Back to the Battlefields of Vietnam[2]
Executive Vice-President of the Crested Butte Ski Area, Colorado

Harold Gregory Moore Jr. (February 13, 1922 – February 10, 2017) was a United States Army lieutenant general and author. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the U.S. military's second-highest decoration for valor, and was the first of his West Point class (1945) to be promoted to brigadier general, major general, and lieutenant general.

Moore is remembered as the lieutenant colonel in command of the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, at the Battle of Ia Drang in 1965, during the Vietnam War. The battle was detailed in the 1992 bestseller We Were Soldiers Once… and Young, co-authored by Moore and made into the film We Were Soldiers in 2002, which starred Mel Gibson as Moore; Moore was the "honorary colonel" of the regiment.

Moore was awarded the Order of Saint Maurice by the National Infantry Association[3] as well as the Distinguished Graduate Award by the West Point Association of Graduates.[4]

Early life and education[edit]

Moore was born on February 13, 1922, in Bardstown, Kentucky, the eldest of four children born to Irish Catholics Harold Sr. and Mary (Crume) Moore.[5] His father was an insurance agent of whose territory covered western Kentucky and his mother was a homemaker.[6] Because he was interested in obtaining an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York and felt his chances were better if he was located in a larger city, he left Kentucky at the age of seventeen before finishing high school and got a job in Washington, D.C. working in the U.S. Senate book warehouse[citation needed].[7] Moore finished high school at night while working days and graduated from St. Joseph Preparatory School in Bardstown with the class of 1940.[8] Moore attended George Washington University at night for two years, working at his warehouse job while waiting on an appointment to West Point.[4] During his time at George Washington University he was initiated into the Kappa Sigma fraternity. After President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed legislation authorizing each senator and representative additional appointments to the military and naval academies, Moore was offered an appointment to the United States Naval Academy by Representative Ed Creal (4th District, Kentucky) but Moore had no desire to go to the Naval Academy. Moore asked Creal if he could find another congressman that would trade his Military Academy appointment for Creal's Naval Academy appointment would he be agreeable to that arrangement. Creal agreed, and Moore soon found Representative Eugene Cox of Georgia's 2nd Congressional District, with an open appointment to West Point. Cox was impressed with Moore's tenacity and he left Cox's office with the West Point appointment.[9][10]

Military service[edit]

West Point[edit]

Moore received his appointment to the U.S. Military Academy shortly after the United States entered into World War II. He reported to West Point for "Reception Day" on July 15, 1942, and the summer training referred to as "Beast Barracks" held before the formal academic school term took up in the fall.[11][12] During his plebe summer at Pine Camp, he qualified expert on the M-1 Garand rifle and was the top scorer in his company.[13] Although Moore did well in most of his classes, he was academically deficient in the required math subjects and he had to redouble his efforts to absorb the engineering, physics and chemistry, often studying two or three hours past lights out to memorize the material.[14][15] During the fall of 1942 his class received the news that because of the war his class would graduate in three years rather than the usual four years. Moore made it through the plebe year, but just barely, or as he put it, "an academic trip from hell." This observation caused Moore to lead a student life at West Point devoted to studying and very few extracurricular activities.[16] After a ten-day furlough, he reported to Camp Popolopen for summer military training where his company trained with various vehicles and fired many types of weapons.[Note 1] The summer ended with maneuvers held again at Pine Camp.[17] During the second year at the Academy, he studied more complicated subjects like calculus, electrical engineering, thermodynamics and historic military campaigns. Wednesdays were spent watching the latest Staff Combat Film Report which reported the most recent fighting from the Pacific and European war fronts. Summer military training after his second year consisted of touring U.S. Army basic training centers to study tactics and techniques. The final academic year was spent studying military history and tactics as the war was winding down in Europe. Just before graduation each cadet selected his branch of assignment dependent on their academic standing in the class and the quota of openings in each branch. Moore stood in the bottom fifteen percent and he wanted an infantry assignment. When his name was finally called to declare, there were still infantry openings available. Moore graduated from West Point on June 5, 1945 and he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the infantry branch.[4][18]

Post-World War II[edit]

Moore's first assignment after graduation was the Infantry Officer Basic Course at Fort Benning, Georgia which was a six-week course. During the basic course he applied for the airborne jump school at Fort Benning, however, he was not selected and was instead assigned to the three-week jump school held at the 11th Airborne Division in Tokyo, Japan.[19] His first assignment out of jump school was with the 187th Glider Infantry Regiment at Camp Crawford near Sapporo, Japan from 1945 until 1948.[20] After a seven-month stint as company commander, he was assigned as Camp Crawford's construction officer and responsible for all of the construction improvements being made at the camp.[21] In June 1948, he was reassigned to the 82nd Airborne Division, at Fort Bragg. He volunteered to join the Airborne Test Section, a special unit testing experimental parachutes, and he made the first of some 150 jumps with the section over the next two years on November 17, 1948.[4][22] Over the course of his career, he became a jumpmaster with over 300 jumps.[23][24]

Korean War[edit]

During the Korean War (1950–1953) in 1951, he was ordered to Fort Benning to attend the Infantry Officer's Advanced Course, which would prepare him to command a company or to serve on a battalion staff.[25] In June 1952 Moore was assigned to the 17th Infantry Regiment of the 7th Infantry Division. As a captain, he commanded a heavy mortar company in combat. He next served as regimental Assistant Chief-of-Staff, Operations and Plans. Moore's promotion to major was put on hold by a policy of the 7th Division commanding general that stated that no promotion to major would be possible without command of an infantry company in combat. The division commander personally assigned Moore to an infantry company so that Moore could be promoted to major and thus later become divisional assistant chief-of staff for operations.[26]

Return to the US[edit]

In 1954, Moore returned to West Point and served for three years as an instructor in infantry tactics. While serving as an instructor, Moore taught then-Cadet Norman Schwarzkopf, who called Moore one of his "heroes," and cites Moore as the reason he chose the infantry branch upon graduation.[4][27] Schwarzkopf later became a general in the U.S. Army and led the U.N. coalition forces in the Persian Gulf War against Iraq.[27] During this assignment, Moore took a personal interest in the battles between the French Army forces and the Việt Minh at Điện Biên Phủ in Vietnam.[28]

Moore was assigned to attend the year-long student course at the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas in 1956. The course prepared majors for the duties of staff officers at the division and corps level.[29] After school at Fort Leavenworth, Moore reported to the Pentagon and the Office, Chief of Research and Development where his initiative and insights were key to the development of new airborne equipment and airborne/air assault tactics. Following graduation from the Armed Forces Staff College at Norfolk, Virginia in 1960 Moore served a three-year tour as NATO Plans Officer with Headquarters, Allied Forces Northern Europe in Oslo, Norway.[30]

In 1964, now a lieutenant colonel, Moore completed the course of study at the Naval War College,[31] while earning a master's degree in International Relations from George Washington University in Washington, DC. Moore was transferred to Fort Benning and commanded 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry later to become a part of 11th Air Assault Division, undergoing air assault and air mobility training and tests.[32] On July 28, 1965 President Lyndon Johnson announced that he was sending "the Airmobile Division to Vietnam".[33] That same month the 11th Air Assault Division was re-designated the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) and alerted for deployment to Vietnam.[33] Moore's battalion was re-designated as 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, the same regiment that was under the command of Lieutenant Colonel George Custer when the Irish song Garry Owen was adopted as a marching tune.[33] The "Garry Owen" Brigade left Fort Benning August 14, 1965 and went to South Vietnam by way of the Panama Canal aboard USNS General Maurice Rose arriving at the Division's An Khê Base Camp a month later.[34]

Vietnam War[edit]

Battle of la Drang[edit]

LTC Hal Moore during the Battle of Ia Drang in November 1965.

Beginning on November 14, 1965, Lt. Col. Moore led the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry of the 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) in the week-long Battle of Ia Drang. Encircled by enemy soldiers with no clear landing zone that would allow them to leave, Moore managed to persevere despite being significantly outnumbered by North Vietnamese Army (NVA) forces that went on to defeat the 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry only two-and-a-half miles away the next day. Moore's dictum that "there is always one more thing you can do to increase your odds of success"[15] and the courage of his entire command are credited[by whom?] with this outcome. Blond haired Moore was known as "Yellow Hair" to his troops at the battle at Ia Drang, and as a tongue-in-cheek homage making reference to the legendary General George Armstrong Custer, who commanded as a lieutenant colonel the same 7th Cavalry Regiment at the Battle of the Little Bighorn just under a century before.[35] Moore was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for extraordinary heroism at Ia Drang.[4] After the Battle of the Ia Drang Valley, Moore was promoted to colonel and took over the command of the Garry Owen (3rd) Brigade.[36]

Post-Vietnam War service[edit]

After his service in the Vietnam War, Moore served at the Pentagon as the military liaison to the Assistant Secretary for International Affairs in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense.[37] In his next assignment the Army sent him to Harvard University, where he completed his M.A in International Relations in 1968.[38] Having completed his work at Harvard, Moore reported back to the Pentagon to work with the Deputy Chief-of-Staff for Operations. He then helped draft the Army plan for the withdrawal of two brigades of the 9th Infantry Division to the United States as a part of the Vietnamization of the war effort.[38] On August 31, 1968, Moore was promoted to the rank of brigadier general.[39] In July 1969, he was assigned as Assistant Chief-of-Staff, Operations and Plans of the Eighth Army in South Korea where tensions were high from demilitarized zone incursions and drug use and racism among Eighth Army troops were at an all-time high.[40] Shortly after becoming Commanding General of the 7th Infantry Division Moore was promoted to major general in 1970 and he and his family moved to Camp Casey, South Korea. He was charged by General John H. Michaelis, Commander, United States Forces Korea with cleaning up the drug abuse problem and racial strife that were prevalent at the time in the 7th Division. His plan established Officer's Leadership Schools for company-grade officers and an NCO Leadership School for staff sergeants and below as well as issuing an "Equal Opportunity Policy". He backed up the policy with the promise to punish those leaders who discriminated based on race, ethnicity or creed. As a part of the reformation of division morale, he established several different athletic programs, including football, basketball, and boxing.[41] As Commanding General of the Army Training Center at Fort Ord, California in 1971–1973, he oversaw extensive experimentation in adapting basic and advanced individual training under Project VOLAR in preparation for the end of conscription and the institution of the Modern Volunteer Army.[42][43] In August 1973, Moore was assigned as Commanding General, US Army Military Personnel Center (MILPERCEN), and in 1974 he was appointed Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel, Department of the Army, his last assignment before leaving the Army. He dealt with Army recruiting issues after the termination of the draft as well as the orderly reduction of forces after the close of the Vietnam War.[44] Moore's next assignment would have been to become the Commanding General, U.S. Army Japan, but he elected to retire instead. Moore retired from the Army August 1, 1977 after completing thirty two years of active service.[45]

Personal life[edit]

While assigned to Fort Bragg, Moore met Julia B. Compton, the daughter of Colonel and Mrs. Louis J. Compton. Julia was a student enrolled at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, North Carolina and was visiting her parents at Fort Bragg.[22][46] They were married at the Fort Bragg main post chapel on November 22, 1949.[46][47] After his retirement in 1977, Moore served as the Executive President of the Crested Butte Ski Area, Colorado. In June 2009, the 87-year-old Moore attended the formal opening of the National Infantry Museum in Columbus, Georgia. One of the featured exhibits of the museum is a life-size diorama of L.Z. X-Ray from the Battle of Ia Drang.[48][49] The Moores had five children, Greg Moore, Steve Moore, Julie Moore Orlowski, Cecile Moore Rainey, and David Moore,[50] as well as twelve grandchildren.[23] Two of their sons are career U.S. Army officers: one a retired colonel and another a retired lieutenant colonel.[51]

Moore died from a stroke on February 10, 2017, his wife's birthday, and three days before his 95th birthday.[52] He was buried in Fort Benning Post Cemetery on February 17, 2017 with full military honors and laid to rest beside his wife of 55 years who died in 2004.[53][54][55]


Awards and decorations[edit]

Bronze oakleaf-3d.svgBronze oakleaf-3d.svg
"V" device, brass.svgBronze oakleaf-3d.svgBronze oakleaf-3d.svgBronze oakleaf-3d.svg
Silver oakleaf-3d.svgBronze oakleaf-3d.svgBronze oakleaf-3d.svgBronze oakleaf-3d.svg
Bronze oakleaf-3d.svgBronze oakleaf-3d.svg
Bronze star
FR CdG palm br s.pngFR CdG palm br s.pngFR CdG palm br s.png
Combat Infantryman Badge w/ Star
Basic Army Aviator Badge
1st row
Army Distinguished Service Cross[4]
Army Distinguished Service Medal
2nd row
Legion of Merit with two bronze oak leaf clusters
Bronze Star Medal with "V" Device and three bronze Oak Leaf Clusters (three awards for Valor)[4]
Purple Heart
3rd row
Air Medal w/ eight Oak Leaf Clusters
Joint Service Commendation Medal
Army Commendation Medal w/ two Oak Leaf Clusters
4th row
American Campaign Medal
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal
World War II Victory Medal
5th row
Army of Occupation Medal
National Defense Service Medal w/ one bronze ​316" service stars
Korean Service Medal w/ three bronze ​316" service stars
6th row
Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
Vietnam Service Medal w/ three ​316" bronze stars
Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross w/ three Palms
7th row
United Nations Korea Medal
Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal w/ 1960– device
Republic of Korea War Service Medal
7 Cav Rgt DUI.jpg
1st Cavalry Division SSI (full color).svg
7th Cavalry Regiment Distinctive Unit Insignia
Republic of Vietnam Parachutist Badge
1st row
US Army Presidential Unit Citation
2nd row
Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation
Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation (two awards)
Republic of Vietnam Civil Actions Medal Unit Citation
1st Cavalry Division Combat Service Identification Badge
Master Parachutist badge (United States).svgOldAirmobileBadge.gif
United States Army Staff Identification Badge.png Office of the Secretary of Defense Identification Badge.png
Badges Master Parachutist Badge Original Air Assault Badge
Badges Army Staff Identification Badge Office of the Secretary of Defense Identification Badge

Other recognition[edit]


  1. ^ The name of Camp Popolopen was changed to Camp Buckner after World War II to honor General Simon Bolivar Buckner Jr., who was killed in action during the closing days of the Battle of Okinawa.


  1. ^ "Deurice Plumley Obituary". Columbus Ledger-Enquirer (by Legacy.com). May 29, 2012.
  2. ^ Moore, Harold; Galloway, Joseph (August 19, 2008). We Are Soldiers Still: A Journey Back to the Battlefields of Vietnam (1 ed.). Harper. ISBN 978-0-06-114776-0.
  3. ^ a b "OSM0203" (PDF). Infantry Association. 2005. Archived from the original (PDF) on February 19, 2005. Retrieved February 19, 2005.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Harold G. Moore, Jr.", 2003 Distinguished Graduate Award, West Point Association of Graduates
  5. ^ Guardia, p. 13.
  6. ^ Guardia, p. 14
  7. ^ Moore's WW2 Draft Card lists his employer as the United States Senate with the place of employment being the Senate Office Building.
  8. ^ Guardia, pp. 15–18
  9. ^ Guardia, pp. 18–20
  10. ^ Moore and Galloway (2008), pp. 159–160
  11. ^ Guardia, p. 20–21
  12. ^ Moore and Galloway (2008), p. 73
  13. ^ Guardia, p. 23
  14. ^ Guardia, p. 24–25
  15. ^ a b Moore and Galloway (2008), p. 162
  16. ^ Guardia, pp. 26–27
  17. ^ Guardia, p. 27
  18. ^ Guardia, pp. 28–30
  19. ^ Guardia, pp. 32–36
  20. ^ Guardia, p. 36
  21. ^ Guardia, p. 40
  22. ^ a b Guardia, pp. 45–46
  23. ^ a b "The Air University 404 Page". Archived from the original on May 30, 2013. Retrieved June 4, 2008.
  24. ^ Barnwell, Ross (February 10, 2019). "Footage: "We Were Soldiers" Hal Moore Talks About The Battle For Ia Drang". War History Online. Retrieved September 3, 2019. Moore was to become a “jumpmaster” with over 300 Airborne jumps
  25. ^ Guardia, pp. 58–59
  26. ^ Guardia, pp. 77–78
  27. ^ a b Guardia, p. 85
  28. ^ Guardia, pp. 86–87
  29. ^ Guardia, p. 87
  30. ^ Guardia, p. 92
  31. ^ "Graduation Exercises" (PDF). The United States Naval War College. June 17, 1964. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 31, 2013. Retrieved January 20, 2014.
  32. ^ "A Soldier Once...and Always". Hal Moore: A Soldier Once. and Always. Facebook. Retrieved February 6, 2014. Lt. Col. Hal Moore in his first command portrait as the CO of 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry (later re-designated: 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry).
  33. ^ a b c Guardia, p. 103
  34. ^ Guardia, pp. 105–106
  35. ^ "Moore, Harold ("Yellow Hair"), LTG". TogetherWeServed. TogetherWeServed, Inc. 2011. Archived from the original on October 17, 2013. Retrieved February 6, 2014.
  36. ^ Guardia, p. 141
  37. ^ Guardia, p. 159
  38. ^ a b Guardia, pp. 160–161
  39. ^ Guardia, p. 162
  40. ^ Guardia, pp. 162–163
  41. ^ Guardia, pp. 163–169
  42. ^ a b Moore and Tuten, pp. 52–59
  43. ^ Guardia, pp. 170–175
  44. ^ Guardia, pp. 180–181
  45. ^ Guardia, p. 181
  46. ^ a b Moore and Galloway (2008), p. 217
  47. ^ Guardia, p. 54
  48. ^ Williams, Chuck, "Infantry Museum's '100 Yards' Exhibit Touches Veterans Archived June 21, 2009, at the Wayback Machine", Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, June 19, 2009.
  49. ^ Galloway, Joseph L. (October 29, 1990). "Vietnam story: The word was the Ia Drang would be a walk. The word was wrong". U.S. News & World Report. Archived from the original on September 11, 2002. Retrieved September 11, 2002.
  50. ^ "Julia Compton Moore". obit. Columbus Ledger-Enquirer. April 21, 2004. Retrieved April 29, 2007.
  51. ^ Moore and Galloway (2008), pp. 220–221
  52. ^ Turner, Troy (February 11, 2017). "We Were Soldiers' hero passes; the celebrated life story of a soldier, a leader, a father". Opelika-Auburn News. Retrieved February 12, 2017.
  53. ^ "Graveside Service Ft Benning, GA Lt. Gen. Hal Moore" (Video). YouTube. February 17, 2017. Retrieved February 28, 2018.
  54. ^ "LTG Harold G. "Hal" Moore, Jr". Find A Grave. February 11, 2017. Retrieved August 26, 2019.
  55. ^ Williams, Chuck (February 17, 2017). "Retired Lt. Gen. Hal Moore remembered as great warrior, leader". Columbus Ledger-Enquirer. Columbus. GA. He was buried with his wife of 55 years, Julia Compton Moore, who died in 2004
  56. ^ Moore and Galloway (2008), pp. 221–222
  57. ^ Webcast Interview at the Pritzker Military Museum & Library on September 17, 2008


External links[edit]