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Moore history

7th ID contributes to JBLM Centennial

Lt. Gen. Hal Moore occupies a unique and honored position in the history of the 7th Infantry Division and JBLM. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

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The 7th Infantry Division occupies a significant chapter in Joint Base Lewis-McChord's century of service.

Within that chapter are several pages penned by Lt. Gen. Hal Moore when he served in the division in 1952 and commanded it from May 1970 to March 1971.

Born in 1922 in the Bluegrass State of Kentucky, Moore passed away in February 2017.

Commissioned a second lieutenant in 1945 after graduating from the United States Military Academy at West Point, he spent 32 of his 94 years in the Army.

After assignment to the 187th Glider Infantry Regiment in Japan, he soon was reassigned to the 82nd Airborne Division. While there, he volunteered for the Army's Airborne Test Section to test experimental parachutes.  He made more than 130 test jumps in two years.

During the Korean War in June 1952, Moore was assigned to the 17th Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division, where he commanded a heavy mortar and infantry company.

After the war, he returned to Fort Benning and took command of the 11th Air Assault Division, where he oversaw the novel air assault and mobility training and testing.

Moore's experience with the new idea of air mobility came together in July 1965 when the newly designated 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) received orders for Vietnam.

At that time, then Lt. Col. Moore commanded the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division.

Ironically, history provided a second opportunity for the regiment that Lt. Col. George Custer commanded in 1876 at the disastrous Battle of Little Bighorn to prove its worth.

That opportunity came Nov. 14, 1965.

Using the concepts of air mobility honed while at Fort Benning, Moore and 450 of his soldiers were dropped by helicopter into a small clearing in the Ia Drang Valley, South Vietnam.

What followed tested Moore's often-used statement that "there is always one more thing you can do to increase your odds of success."

He and his force had stepped onto a battlefield adjacent to more than 4,000 North Vietnamese soldiers. Eager for combat, the enemy soldiers soon encircled Moore's force. Despite overwhelming odds, he and his soldiers persevered; their courage and resolve resulted in more than a 4-to-1 ratio between American and North Vietnamese casualties.

"If it wasn't for him and all his knowledge and training, I don't think any of us would have survived the Ia Drang Valley," said Spc. Pat Selleck, shortly after the battle.

In 1992, Moore and photojournalist Joseph Galloway wrote the book We Were Soldiers Once ... And Young about the battle.

In 2002, the book became the movie We Were Soldiers, starring Mel Gibson as Moore.

At the war's end, Moore served at the Pentagon and helped draft the withdrawal of two brigades of the 9th Infantry Division from Vietnam back to the U.S.

In 1970, Moore became commanding general of the 7th Infantry Division, which was stationed in South Korea. He had the task of addressing the racial and drug problems besetting the division, and his efforts restored the Hourglass Division.

"Love is not the first word that comes to mind when you think of a soldier, when you think of life in combat," said Gregory Moore at his father's funeral. "But love is foremost in what we children and grandchildren know of our father. Love for our mother is what we saw when he gently kissed her at the kitchen stove when they thought we weren't looking. Love for his troopers, his band of brothers, who he led under desperate circumstances in two wars. It is what they know on the battlefield and in their bones."

Some of Moore's military artifacts are now permanently on display at Harrison Hall, the 7th ID Headquarters on Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

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