Harold Gregory Moore Jr.
Moore at the United States Military Academy in May 2010
|Nickname(s)||"Hal", "Yellow Hair"|
|Born||February 13, 1922|
|Died||February 10, 2017 (aged 94)|
Fort Benning Cemetery
|Service/||United States Army|
|Years of service||1945-1977|
|Commands held||Army 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
|Awards||Distinguished Service Cross|
Army Distinguished Service Medal
Legion of Merit (3)
Bronze Star Medal (4) w/ "V" Device
Air Medal (9)
|Spouse(s)||Julia Compton Moore (m.1949-2004; her death)|
|Relations||5 children, 12 grandchildren|
|Other work||We Were Soldiers Once... And Young|
We Are Soldiers Still: A Journey Back to the Battlefields of Vietnam
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 born on February 13, 1922, in Bardstown, Kentucky, the eldest of four children born to Irish Catholics Harold Sr. and Mary (Crume) Moore. His father was an insurance agent of whose territory covered western Kentucky and his mother was a homemaker. 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. Moore finished high school at night while working days and graduated from St. Joseph Preparatory School in Bardstown with the class of 1940. Moore attended George Washington University at night for two years, working at his warehouse job while waiting on an appointment to West Point. 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.
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. During his plebe summer at Pine Camp, he qualified expert on the M-1 Garand rifle and was the top scorer in his company. 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. 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. 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. 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.
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. His first assignment out of jump school was with the 187th Glider Infantry Regiment at Camp Crawford near Sapporo, Japan from 1945 until 1948. 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. 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. Over the course of his career, he became a jumpmaster with over 300 jumps.
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. 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.
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. Schwarzkopf later became a general in the U.S. Army and led the U.N. coalition forces in the Persian Gulf War against Iraq. During this assignment, Moore took a personal interest in the battles between the French Army forces and the Vi?t Minh at ?i?n Biên Ph? in Vietnam.
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. 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.
In 1964, now a lieutenant colonel, Moore completed the course of study at the Naval War College, 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. On July 28, 1965 President Lyndon Johnson announced that he was sending "the Airmobile Division to Vietnam". That same month the 11th Air Assault Division was re-designated the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) and alerted for deployment to Vietnam. 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. 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.
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 would go 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" 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 referencing 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. Moore was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for extraordinary heroism at Ia Drang. After the Battle of the Ia Drang Valley, Moore was promoted to colonel and took over the command of the Garry Owen (3rd) Brigade.
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. In his next assignment the Army sent him to Harvard University where he completed his M.A in International Relations in 1968. 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. On August 31, 1968, Moore was promoted to the rank of brigadier general. 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. 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 was prevalent at the time in the 7th Division. His plan established Officer's Leadership Schools for company grade officers and a 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. 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. 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 drawdown of forces after the close of the Vietnam War. Moore's next assignment was 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.
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. They were married at the Fort Bragg main post chapel on November 22, 1949. 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. The Moores had five children, Greg Moore, Steve Moore, Julie Moore Orlowski, Cecile Moore Rainey, and David Moore, as well as twelve grandchildren. Two of their sons are career U.S. Army officers: one a retired colonel and another a retired lieutenant colonel.
Moore died from a stroke on February 10, 2017, his wife's birthday, and three days before his 95th birthday. 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.
Moore was to become a "jumpmaster" with over 300 Airborne jumps
Lt. Col. Hal Moore in his first command portrait as the CO of 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry (later re-designated: 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry).
He was buried with his wife of 55 years, Julia Compton Moore, who died in 2004