Thomas Hinman Moorer

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Thomas Hinman Moorer
ADM Thomas Moorer.JPG
Admiral Thomas H. Moorer, U.S. Navy
Born(1912-02-09)February 9, 1912
Mount Willing, Alabama, U.S.
DiedFebruary 5, 2004(2004-02-05) (aged 91)
Bethesda, Maryland, U.S.
Service/branchUnited States Navy
Years of service1933–1974
Commands heldChairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Chief of Naval Operations
Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic
United States Atlantic Command
United States Atlantic Fleet
United States Pacific Fleet
United States Seventh Fleet
USS Salisbury Sound
Battles/warsWorld War II
Vietnam War
AwardsDefense Distinguished Service Medal (2)
Navy Distinguished Service Medal (5)
Army Distinguished Service Medal
Air Force Distinguished Service Medal
Silver Star
Legion of Merit
Distinguished Flying Cross
Gray Eagle Award

Thomas Hinman Moorer (February 9, 1912 – February 5, 2004) was an admiral and naval aviator in the United States Navy who served as the chief of naval operations from 1967 to 1970, and as the seventh chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1970 to 1974.[1]

External audio
audio icon You may watch an interview with Thomas Moorer about his experiences serving during the Vietnam War[2]

Early life, education, and ancestry[edit]

Moorer was born in Mount Willing, Alabama on February 9, 1912. His father, a dentist, named his son for his favorite professor at Atlanta-Southern Dental College, Dr. Thomas Hinman. Moorer was raised in Eufaula, Alabama with his siblings, including his brother Joseph, who would also become a Navy Admiral.

On March 31, 1970 he became a member of the Alabama Society of the Sons of the American Revolution (SAR). He was assigned national SAR member number 99,634 and Alabama Society number 759. He was later awarded the Society's Gold Good Citizenship Medal. He was also a member of the Naval Order of the United States.

Naval career[edit]

Senior U.S. Navy commanders pose around an illuminated globe in 1968: Admirals John J. Hyland, John S. McCain, Jr., Chief of Naval Operations Moorer, and Ephraim P. Holmes.

Moorer graduated from the United States Naval Academy on June 1, 1933 and was commissioned an ensign.[3] After completing Naval Aviation training at the Pensacola Naval Air Station in 1936, he flew with fighter squadrons based on the aircraft carriers USS Langley, USS Lexington and USS Enterprise.

World War II[edit]

In addition to his carrier-based fighter experience, Moorer also qualified in seaplanes and flew with a patrol squadron in the early years of World War II. Serving with Patrol Squadron Twenty-Two[4] at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, when the Japanese Empire attacked on December 7, 1941 Moorer's account of Pearl Harbor attack has been published under the title "A Patrol in the wrong direction"[5].His squadron subsequently participated in the 1941–42 Dutch East Indies Campaign in the southwest Pacific, where he flew numerous combat missions. Moorer received a Purple Heart after being shot down and wounded off the coast of Australia on 19 February 1942 and then surviving an attack on the rescue ship, Florence D., which was bombed and sunk the same day by enemy aircraft involved in the first Bombing of Darwin.[3][6] Moorer also received the Distinguished Flying Cross for his valor three months later when he braved Japanese air superiority to fly supplies into, and evacuate wounded out of, the island of Timor.[3]

Vietnam War[edit]

Promoted to vice admiral in 1962, and to admiral in 1964, Moorer served both as Commander-in-Chief of the United States Pacific Fleet and Commander-in-Chief of the United States Atlantic Fleet — the first Navy officer to have commanded both fleets. Moorer was Commander-in-Chief of the Pacific Fleet at the time of the Gulf of Tonkin incident and ordered an internal investigation into the conflicting reports which emerged following the event.[2]

Moorer served as the Chief of Naval Operations between 1967 and 1970, at the height of U.S. involvement in Vietnam and worked closely with the most senior officers in the U.S. Military and Government.[2]

Attack on the USS Liberty[edit]

Moorer came to the conclusion that the attack on the USS Liberty in 1967 was a deliberate act on the part of the Israelis and that President Lyndon B. Johnson ordered the cover-up to maintain ties with Israel.[7][8] Moorer stated that "Israel attempted to prevent the Liberty's radio operators from sending a call for help by jamming American emergency radio channels.[And that] Israeli torpedo boats machine-gunned lifeboats at close range that had been lowered to rescue the most-seriously wounded." Moorer stated that there had been a conspiracy to cover up the event and asked whether "our government put Israel's interests ahead of our own? If so, Why? Does our government continue to subordinate American interests to Israeli interests?"[8] In a 1983 interview, Moorer said: "I've never seen a President . . . stand up to them [Zionists]. If the American people understood what a grip those people have got on our government, they would rise up in arms.”[9]

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff[edit]

Moorer served as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1970 until 1974.

While Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Moorer personally masterminded the 1972 mining of Hai Phong Harbor and believed that if such an operation had been conducted in 1964 it would have "made a significant difference in the outcome of the war."[2]

Excerpts from Moorer's diary during his time as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff were recently declassified, and includes a note about an Air Force general telling the Joint Chiefs of Staff during a 1971 meeting that in a nuclear war the United States “could lose two hundred million people and still have more than we had at the time of the Civil War.”[10] In December 1972, President Nixon ordered Operation Linebacker II, better known as the Christmas Bombings, saying to Moorer on 14 December: "I don't want any more of this crap about the fact that we couldn't hit this target or that one. This is your chance to use military power to win this war, and if you don't, I'll hold you responsible".[11]

Upon completion of his second two-year term as CJCS, Moorer retired from the Navy on July 1, 1974.

Death and legacy[edit]

In an interview with the journalist Stanley Karnow in 1981, Moorer expressed much bitterness about how the Vietnam War was fought, saying: "We should have fought in the north, where everyone was the enemy, where you didn't have to worry whether or not you were shooting friendly civilians. In the south, we had to cope with women concealing grenades in their brassieres, or in their baby's diapers. I remember two of our Marines being killed by a youngster who they were teaching to play volleyball. But Lyndon Johnson didn't want to overthrow the North Vietnamese government. Well, the only reason to go to war is to overthrow a government you don't like".[12]

Moorer died on February 5, 2004, at the U.S. Naval Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland at the age of 91.[1] He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.[13]

The National Guard Armory (Fort Thomas H. Moorer Armory) in Fort Deposit, Alabama is named after Moorer, as is a middle school in Eufaula, Alabama.[citation needed]

Dates of rank[edit]

Ensign Lieutenant (junior grade) Lieutenant Lieutenant Commander Commander Captain
O-1 O-2 O-3 O-4 O-5 O-6
US Navy O1 insignia.svg US Navy O2 insignia.svg US Navy O3 insignia.svg U.S. Navy O-4 insignia.svg US Navy O5 insignia.svg US Navy O6 insignia.svg
June 1, 1933 June 1, 1936 November 23, 1940 October 1, 1942 April 27, 1944 January 1, 1952
Rear Admiral (lower half) Rear Admiral (upper half) Vice Admiral Admiral
O-7 O-8 O-9 O-10
US Navy O7 insignia.svg US Navy O8 insignia.svg US Navy O9 insignia.svg US Navy O10 insignia.svg
Never held August 1, 1958 October 5, 1962 June 26, 1964
  • At the time of Admiral Moorer's promotion, all rear admirals wore two stars, but the rank was divided into an "upper" and "lower half" for pay purposes


Awards and decorations[edit]

U.S. military personal decorations, unit awards, campaign awards[edit]

Naval Aviator Badge.jpg Naval Aviator badge
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Defense Distinguished Service Medal with bronze oak leaf cluster[15]
Gold star
Gold star
Gold star
Gold star
Navy Distinguished Service Medal with four gold award stars[15]
Army Distinguished Service Medal[15]
Air Force Distinguished Service Medal[15]
Silver Star Medal ribbon.svg Silver Star[15]
Legion of Merit ribbon.svg Legion of Merit[15]
Distinguished Flying Cross ribbon.svg Distinguished Flying Cross[15]
Purple Heart ribbon.svg Purple Heart
Bronze star
Presidential Unit Citation with one service star
China Service Medal ribbon.svg China Service Medal
"A" Device
American Defense Service Medal with A Device
American Campaign Medal ribbon.svg American Campaign Medal
Bronze star
Bronze star
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with two stars
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign ribbon.svg European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal
World War II Victory Medal ribbon.svg World War II Victory Medal
Navy Occupation Service Medal with Europe and Asia Clasps
Bronze star
National Defense Service Medal with bronze star
Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal ribbon.svg Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
Bronze star
Vietnam Service Medal with one service star
Philippine Defense ribbon.png Philippine Defense Medal
Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal ribbon, with 60- clasp.svg Vietnam Campaign Medal

Foreign orders and decorations[edit]

He also has been decorated by thirteen foreign governments:

Civilian awards[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Moorer Thomas H Obit". Retrieved 2016-04-18.
  2. ^ a b c d "WGBH Open Vault – Interview with Thomas H. Moorer, 1981".
  3. ^ a b c "Admiral Thomas Hinman Moorer, USN (Ret.)". Naval History & Heritage Command. Retrieved September 18, 2012.
  4. ^ "VPNAVY – VP-22 History Summary Page – VP Patrol Squadron".
  5. ^ Air raid, Pearl Harbor! Paul Stillwell ISBN 0-87021-086-6, p. 202-206.
  6. ^ Gibson & Gibson 2008, p. 171, fn 7.
  7. ^ "Ex-Navy Official: 1967 Israeli Attack on U.S. Ship Was Deliberate". Associated Press. 2003-10-23. Retrieved 2008-11-16.
  8. ^ a b Thomas Moorer (11 January 2004). "Betrayal behind Israeli attack on U.S. ship". Houston Chronicle.
  9. ^ Findley, Paul (1989). They Dare to Speak Out: People and Institutions Confront Israel's Lobby. Chicago: Lawrence Hill. p. 87. ISBN 9781556524820.
  10. ^ William Burr, ed. (February 15, 2017). "Top Air Force Official Told JCS in 1971: "We Could Lose Two Hundred Million People [in a Nuclear War] and Still Have More Than We Had at the Time of the Civil War". National Security Archive. Retrieved August 17, 2018.
  11. ^ Karnow 1983, p. 652.
  12. ^ Karnow 1983, pp. 16–17.
  13. ^ Burial Detail: Moorer, Thomas H – ANC Explorer
  14. ^ The Chairmanship of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, 1949-2012 (PDF) (2 ed.). Joint History Office. October 27, 2012. p. 133. ISBN 978-1480200203.
  15. ^ a b c d e f g "Thomas Hinman Moorer". Hall of Valor. Military Times. Retrieved 18 August 2018.
  16. ^ "Cidadãos Estrangeiros Agraciados com Ordens Portuguesas". – Página Oficial das Ordens Honoríficas Portuguesas.


External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by Commander in Chief of the United States Pacific Fleet
Succeeded by
Preceded by Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic
Succeeded by
Commander in Chief of the United States Atlantic Command
Commander in Chief of the United States Atlantic Fleet
Preceded by Chief of Naval Operations
Succeeded by
Preceded by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Succeeded by