Lt. Gen. Hal Moore Celebrates His 86 Birthday at Ft. Benning By The Bayonet, Bridgett Siter Former 1st Caalry v commander celebrates 86th birthday at home on Fort Benning, GA On the occasion of his 86th birthday, retired Lt. Gen. Hal Moore had a sobering thought to share with well-wishers Wednesday at a surprise party hosted by the post chaplains. We should all think of the shortness of this life, the nothingness of this world and the greatness of heaven, he said, taking liberty with the words of Pope Clement XI. Moore, who describes himself as a deeply religious man, traveled from his home in Auburn, Ala., to Fort Benning to discuss business with friends and associates and Soldiers. The former commander of the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry, makes it his business, as he has since graduating from West Point in 1945, to prepare Soldiers for combat. But these days, hes taking a different approach. Hes addressing their need to prepare for the very real possibility that they wont return from combat. I realize were on this earth just this long, he said, and he snapped his fingers. Theres a higher power involved in all this activity. Im convinced of it. Moore signed copies of A Generals Spiritual Journey during his visit. He has donated 70,000 copies of the book to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. He plans to donate another 10,000 to Fort Benning chaplains who will distribute them to Soldiers training here, Soldiers who will likely see combat very soon. Moore did not write the book. No doubt he could have; he co-authored We Were Soldiers Once and Young, an account of the first major battle in Vietnam in the bloody Ia Drang Valley of Death. Randall Wallace made the book into a movie and cast Mel Gibson in the role of Lt. Col. Hal Moore. That book and the movie frequently alluded to Moores faith within the context of combat. In A Generals Spiritual Journey, his friend and companion, Toby Warren, chronicles Moores spiritual growth through personal observances and accounts relayed to him by Moore. He includes many references to Moores beloved wife, Julie Compton Moore, who died in 2004 in their 54th year of marriage. Moore visited his wifes grave at the Main Post Cemetery during his visit Wednesday. The couple called Fort Benning home for much of his 32-year career. He and Julie lived on Miller Loop for a time, just down the street from the home that was used in the filming of the movie. Their son was born at Martin Army Hospital. His headquarters building still stands on Kelley Hill. This is still home, Moore said LTG Hal Moore From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hal_Moore From the West Point website: Beyond the Ia Drang Valley 11/01/2002 "The will to win, the will to survive, they endure. They are more important than the events that occasion them." -- Vince Lombardi In his novel of the Battle of Thermopylae, author Steven Pressfield describes a scene in which Dienekes, a Spartan officer, prepares his men for a battle against a numerically superior army of Persians. Watching Dienekes rally and tend to his men, the narrator identifies the essential role of an officer in combat: to prevent those under his command, at all stages of battle -- before, during and after -- from becoming so overcome by terror or anger that emotion usurps dominion of the mind. "To fire their valor when it flagged and rein in their fury when it threatened to take them out of hand" -- that was Dienekes job. Two and a half millennia later, a modern Spartan displayed similar attributes of self-restraint and self-composure when Lt. Col. Harold G. (Hal) Moore led the men of the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry into the Ia Drang Valley in the Republic of Vietnam in November 1965. Like Dienekes before him, Moore bequeathed a legacy of raw courage and inspirational leadership in wars darkest crucible. By his own admission, Moore is not a hero, but to his men and to a generation of future officers whom he addressed at the U.S. Military Academy, he is the penultimate battle captain. When actor Mel Gibson and his entourage visited West Point in the spring of 2002 to launch the premier of his movie "We Were Soldiers," the greatest applause was reserved not for Gibson, but for Moore, who quietly slipped away unnoticed during the films battle scenes. Not surprisingly, in a recent survey conducted following one of his visits, the majority of cadets identified Moore as the most inspirational officer in their cadet experience. To a Long Gray Line accustomed to visits by the Armys most distinguished leaders, why does Moore stand out? The true essence of his popularity within the Corps of Cadets is not limited to his command of American troops in the first pitched battle in the Vietnam War between the U.S. Army and the North Vietnamese Army. Scores of commanders have conducted similar battles and achieved like success. What differentiates Moore from his fellow warriors is his message concerning preparation for battlefield leadership and his own philosophy on the conduct of a leader in battle. Hal Moores road to his status as a cadet icon began in the hills of Kentucky in a small town called Bardstown. Born on February 13, 1922, Moore matriculated to West Point by a circuitous path. Unable to secure an appointment before his graduation from high school, Moore left home in February 1940 and traveled to Washington, D.C., where he hoped his chances to secure a congressional appointment would be enhanced. He completed high school at night and attended George Washington University in the evenings for two years. When Congress doubled the size of the Corps of Cadets in 1942 to meet wartime commitments, Moore finally obtained his appointment from a Georgia congressman. The entire process reinforced Moores belief that the first person you must learn to lead is yourself. Set lofty goals and persist until you achieve them. Never the best student in the mathematical sciences, Moore struggled, taking refuge in religious activities that further honed his character. His greatest joy in Beast Barracks was firing Expert on the M-1 rifle with the top score in the company. His academic pursuits proved more difficult. In his own words, his first semester at West Point was "an academic trip from hell." Moments of quiet meditation in the Catholic chapel and long hours of study finally paid dividends. As cited in West Points yearbook, Hal Moore graduated in 1945 under the curtailed curriculum "untouched by the machinations of the T.D. [Tactical Department] and Academic Departments." Not surprising to anyone who knew him well, Moore selected Infantry as his branch and joined the 187th Airborne Regiment in Sendai, Japan. The summer of 1948 found 1st Lt. Moore at Fort Bragg, N.C., where he jump-tested experimental parachutes and other airborne gear. By his own calculation, he made upwards of 150 test jumps over the course of the next three years. On his first test jump, however, the parachute hung on the tail of a C-46 and Moore was dragged behind the plane, at 110 miles per hour, 1,500 feet above the drop zone before he could cut it off and use his reserve. The ability to take a few seconds to think under such hazardous conditions would become a hallmark of Moores character for the remainder of his military career. The years at Bragg also marked Moore as a quiet professional unfazed by challenges. In June 1952, Moore, now a husband and father of two children, deployed to Korea. Over the course of the next 14 months, he commanded a rifle company and heavy mortar company in the 17th Infantry, 7th Infantry Division, seeing action in the battles of attrition on Pork Chop Hill, T-Bone, Alligator Jaws and Charlie Outpost. By now Moore was a battle-tested commander. When the armistice was signed in July 1953, he reported to the U.S. Military Academy to teach infantry tactics to aspiring officers. The post-Korean War army also brought Moore to the Pentagon, where he served with distinction in the Air Mobility Division in the office of the Chief of Research and Development, in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations and Plans. Following graduation from the Naval War College in June 1964, Lt. Col. Moore received a by-name request from Brig. Gen. Harry W. O. Kinnard, commanding general, 11th Air Assault Division (Test), to serve as a battalion commander. Redesignated the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) in July 1965, the division deployed to South Vietnams Central Highlands in response to Lyndon Johnsons escalation of the war. It was in that capacity that Moores 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry fought the first major pitched battle with the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) at Landing Zone X-Ray in the Ia Drang Valley in November 1965. Moores conduct of the battle is well chronicled in his and Joe Galloways We Were Soldiers Once. . . and Young and needs little elaboration here. Suffice it to say that the success of Moores soldiers in repelling the attack of a well-disciplined enemy force five times their own size was the result of Moores battlefield leadership and the indomitable spirit of his men. Moore was first off the lead helicopter and the last soldier to leave the battlefield three days later. Putting everything he had learned at West Point and 20 years of leadership in battle into the action, Moore inflicted over 600 dead on the enemy at a cost of 79 killed and 121 wounded. True to his word, he brought out every one of his troopers. In fact throughout his 32-year career, Hal Moore never abandoned an American soldier on the battlefield. Following the Ia Drang Battle, Moore was promoted to command the 1st Cavalry Divisions 3rd Brigade that saw action on the Bong Son Plain in January 1966. Subsequent tours of duty included service with the International Security Affairs, Office of the Secretary of Defense; commanding general of the 7th Infantry Division in Korea, and then commanding general of Fort Ord, Calif. Moore ended his career as deputy chief of staff for personnel. When he retired in 1977, he became an executive vice president of the company that developed the ski area at Crested Butte, Colo. Four years later he formed a computer software company. Now in retirement, Moore spends his time with his wife Julie and their family in their homes in Crested Butte, Colo., and Auburn, Ala. Moores achievements in a career spanning three decades are legendary. First in his West Point class to be promoted to one, two and three stars, Moore received accelerated promotions on six occasions. Recipient of the Purple Heart and seven awards for battlefield valor, including the Distinguished Service Cross, Moore never lost a man as prisoner or missing in action, which brings us back to West Point and why the Corps of Cadets holds Moore in such high esteem. On the 25th anniversary of the fall of Saigon, Gen. Moore returned to his alma mater at the invitation of the Department of History to address the Corps of Cadets on battlefield leadership during the Battle of the Ia Drang Valley. Following a brief narration of the battle, Moore got to the main purpose of his visit: the preparation of American soldiers for combat. Cadet time is carefully regimented, but 200 of the 1,000 cadets remained one hour beyond the scheduled lecture to hear the old warriors remarks. For an additional hour, Moore captivated his audience, dividing his comments between a leaders preparations for battlefield leadership and his own philosophy on the conduct of a leader in battle. In preparing Americas sons and daughters for combat, Gen. Moore directed the cadets to read military history, particularly small unit actions. The personality of a big battle is often formed by a small unit action. During the Ia Drang Battle, for example, much of Moores efforts were directed at rescuing an isolated platoon of one of his companies. In addition to Steven Pressfields Gates of Fire, Moore cited Stephen E. Ambroses Band of Brothers and Ian Knights books on the defense of Rorkes Drift during the Zulu Wars of 1879. Both books have appeared on the Army Chief of Staffs recommended reading list. Second, Moore urged cadets to visit historic battlefields with maps, books and narratives from actual participants to understand the intricacies of battles and campaigns. The staff ride concept was pioneered by Capt. Arthur L. Wagner at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., at the turn of the 20th century and emerged as a vital component of officer professional development for more than a hundred years. Today most commanders incorporate some aspect of the staff ride in their training to enhance unit morale and to determine how and why key leaders made their decisions under hazardous conditions. Moore himself recently returned from the Normandy battlefields where he contemplated the decisions by the senior Allied commanders. Next Moore stressed the necessity of installing the will to win in ones command. He was adamant that commanders should not place any second place trophies in the unit. "Focus on winning, being first," and the soldiers will respond more rapidly. His remarks were reminiscent of former Green Bay Packer coach Vince Lombardi who demanded a commitment to excellence and victory above all else. To Lombardi the greatest joy in life was to give ones last ounce of strength and to lie exhausted in victory. Fourth, Moore concentrated on building unit discipline and teamwork. When he commanded Fort Ord in 1971, Moore instituted bayonet and pugil stick training, hand-to-hand combat training, confidence and close combat courses, field marches and rappelling to improve morale and prepare his soldiers for combat. Such combat-enhancing courses resulted in a "family of warriors," much the same as his 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry in the Ia Drang Valley. Only by installing "layer after layer after layer of personal discipline on ones troops" will units "stand tall, hang in, and stay alive when the going gets tough." Fifth, Moore urged the cadets to prepare their commands for their own death and that of their subordinate leaders. Squad leaders must be ready to assume command of a platoon and a company. To illustrate his point, Moore remembered on the first day of the Ia Drang fight, one of Bravo Companys platoons lost every officer and noncommissioned officer save one. Faced with overwhelming pressure from the North Vietnamese Army, Sgt. Ernie Savage, the fourth man to inherit Lt. Henry Herricks Lost Platoon, called indirect fire upon his own position. His action saved the remainder of the platoon, which had suffered nine dead and 13 wounded in the first 90 minutes of combat. Not only must platoon leaders train squad and fire team leaders to adjust artillery and mortar fire, but leaders at all levels must prepare for wounded men yelling for "Medic" or "Mom." In battle, leaders must divorce themselves from the sounds of combat and concentrate on making clear, logical decisions. Gen. Moore concluded his comments on preparation for battlefield leadership by reminding the cadets that mission accomplishment comes first, then care of their soldiers. The easiest part is responding to the soldiers personal needs -- food, water, mail and information on what is going on. The more important steps are developing stressful realistic training, rigorous physical conditioning and "stern, fair and square discipline." With respect to his own battalion, Moores pre-combat training inculcated the Spartan qualities of self-denial, discipline and sacrifice into the troopers who deployed to Vietnam in 1965. Treated right, Moore said, the least PFC is capable of acts of valor and sacrifice that are breathtaking. One only has to return to the Ia Drang to confirm Moores theory. Two cavalry troopers, Russell Adams and Bill Beck, manned an M-60 machine gun and with another crew, they protected Alpha Companys left flank during the opening stages of the battle. When Adams suffered a debilitating wound, it fell to assistant gunner Beck to maintain a withering fire on the enemy, now within 30 yards of his position. Moore later recalled that when Spc. 4 Becks company and his country needed him most, Beck rose to the occasion and answered the call. Gen. Moore summarized his remarks on battlefield preparation by reminding the cadets to "live each of your troop duty days to the fullest." No one ever wrote a book about the joy and delights of being a staff officer, stated Moore, so "spend time with your soldiers. Talk with them. Never ever abuse them by act of omission. They are the secret to successful command on or off the battlefield." Again his words are reminiscent of the Spartan warrior who described his king Leonidas as a monarch "who did not command his mens loyalty through fear nor purchase it with gold, rather he earned their respect by the sweat of his own back and the pains he endured for their sake." Turning his attention to conduct in battle, Moore next outlined four basic principles to govern ground combat. First, "Three strikes and you are not out!" A commander has two alternatives in battle. He can either contaminate his environment and his unit with his attitude and actions, or inspire confidence. To inspire confidence a leader must be visible on the battlefield and must be in the battle. Moore cautioned cadets to possess and display the will to win by ones actions, ones words, ones tone of voice on the radio, and face to face. Moreover, a commander must display quiet confidence and display no fear, ignoring "the noise, dust, smoke, thirst, explosions, screams of wounded, the yells, the dead lying around him." Such chaos is normal in battle, not the exception. Battle by its nature is chaotic. Good commanders strive to make battle organized chaos, rather than disorganized carnage. In Ia Drang, Moores lead helicopter pilot, Maj. Bruce Crandall, remembered Moore as "always making the right decision, always fully aware of the situation." Second, "Theres always one more thing you can do to influence any situation in your favor -- and after that one more thing -- and after that one more thing." Taking a few seconds to separate ones self mentally from the battle, Moore repeatedly asked himself, "What am I doing that I should not be doing? And what am I not doing that I should be doing to influence the situation in my favor?" These quiet seconds of reflection allowed Moore to enter a "zone" in which opportunities rapidly crystallized. By refusing to surrender the tactical initiative to the enemy, Moore dictated the course of the battle to the best of his ability, directing arriving units to the most dangerous portions of the battlefield, often minutes before the enemy attacked. The third principle is "When theres nothing wrong, there is nothing wrong except theres nothing wrong!" That was exactly when a leader must be most alert. On the morning of the battles second day, Moore noticed that things were too quiet, not even the birds were singing. Something in his gut told him that something was wrong, so he directed each company to send out patrols. Within minutes these patrols intercepted the enemy as the NVA moved into position to assault Moores beleaguered troopers. The Americans repelled the attack, inflicting massive casualties on the enemy. Last, Moore urged the cadets to trust their instincts. In a rapidly developing battle, ones instincts amount to an instant estimate of the situation. There is no time to conduct a detailed commanders estimate by the book and to make a matrix of alternative courses of action. An officers instincts are the product of education, training, reading, personality and experience according to Moore. Leaders must act fast and impart confidence. Dont second guess decisions. Face up to the facts, deal with them and move on to the next situation. In the Ia Drangs opening minutes, Moores instincts told him that the enemy commander was likely to strike on his left flank, heading for the clearing that marked the landing zone. As soon as Moores Charlie Company arrived on the landing zone, he directed them to take position on Alpha Companys left, taking the risk of leaving his own rear unguarded from the north and east. They arrived just as the NVA launched an attack. Moore concluded his remarks by stressing the bond that exists between a commander and his soldiers. When one cadet inquired about the feeling of comrades in arm, Moores eyes welled with tears and he said, "When your men die and you dont, you feel guilty. Thats all I can say about it." Today 37 years after the Battle in the Ia Drang Valley, Moore makes annual pilgrimages to the cemetery at Fort Benning, Ga., where several of his troopers are interred, and to the Vietnam Veterans War Memorial in Washington, D.C. In the wake of the tragedy of September 11, the old commander, now in his 80th year, paid his respects to Rick Rescorla, a former lieutenant who died in the destruction of the World Trade Center. How was Moore received by West Points Corps of Cadets? A random sample of unedited comments tells the story. "The most important part of Gen. Moores lecture was the advice on how people should lead," noted one cadet. Another said, "The single most noteworthy accomplishment was being able to keep his cool and composure while on the verge of being overrun. ... He inspired me to always remain optimistic, even when things look bad." Yet another remarked, "I was hanging on every word. It was the best lecture I have ever heard at West Point. ... I would have stayed and listened to him all night if that were possible." Perhaps the most touching comment came from a first class cadet who said Moores presentation was the "best, most down-to-earth lecture I have ever experienced. It made me feel proud becoming an officer and entering into the Army as a profession. His words are inspirational and his experiences are a model of admiration. I wish I would have gone Infantry." How many other cadets Moore inspired to select Infantry as a branch is speculative, but the general consensus that April evening was that listening to Hal Moore made these cadets better future commanders. Listening to Moore could make one a better officer and possibly a better person. One final observation. In the audience the night Moore addressed the Corps was New York Times reporter John Kifver, who asked Moore if his comments were on the record. "All my comments are for the record," Moore replied, "Feel free to publish anything you desire." In the subsequent column that graced the front page of the Times, Kifver described Moore as a "courtly old warrior." In the final analysis, Moore typifies the finest attributes of the U.S. Armys officer corps and West Points motto of "Duty, Honor, Country." His mantra for years has been and continues to be "hate war, love the American warrior." As heroic and inspirational as his battlefield leadership was in countless battles in two foreign wars, however, Moores greatest legacy remains the preparation of future officers to lead Americas finest soldiers into battle. That is why he is cherished by officers and soldiers alike.