Hal Moore graduated from West Point in 1945 and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Infantry. He served as a paratrooper for a rifle platoon in Japan. His next assignment was with the 82d Airborne at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. There, he volunteered for the Army's Airborne Test Section where he jump-tested experimental parachutes for the Army, Air Force, and the CIA, making 135 test jumps and experiencing several near-death incidents. Moore commanded two infantry companies and served as a regimental S-3 in the Korean War.
In 1964, Moore was selected to command a battalion in the newly formed air mobile 11th Airborne Test Division at Fort Benning, Georgia. For nearly a year, Moore spearheaded doctrinal development and tactical employment of this emerging capability. The 11th Test Division reflagged under the heralded colors of the 1st Cavalry Division, with Moore's unit taking the colors of the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment. In November 1965, Moore validated the air mobile concept when he and his under-strength unit of 450 troopers of Garryowen fought 2,000 North Vietnamese Regulars and won the United States' first major battle of the Vietnam conflict.
Immediately after the hard-fought battle, he was promoted to colonel and given command of the 3d Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, which he continued to lead and fight for 235 more days. Before retiring in 1977 after 32 years of service, Lieutenant General Moore had served in Norway with NATO, commanded the 7th Infantry Division in Korea and the Army installation at Fort Ord, California, and served as the Personnel Chief of the Army. After 4 years as executive vice president of a major Colorado ski resort, Moore co-authored with journalist Joseph Galloway the number one New York Times' best seller, We Were Soldiers Once, and Young, published in 1992. The movie, "We Were Soldiers," based on the book, was released by Paramount in March 2002.
In telling his soldiers' story, Moore has returned to Vietnam seven times since 1990 to walk the battlefields with the North Vietnamese commanders who opposed him. Moore is a Master Parachutist with over 300 jumps and is a qualified Army helicopter pilot. He holds two Combat Infantry Badges, the Purple Heart, and the Distinguished Service Cross among many other awards for valor. He earned accelerated promotions six times. He completed advanced studies at Harvard and has earned many civilian accolades for his lifelong service to the nation. Moore lives in Auburn, Alabama and Crested Butte, Colorado. He has five children and 12 grandchildren. Julie, his wife of 55 years, passed away in April 2004. Of his many accomplishments, his proudest achievement in life is that in numerous battles in two wars, he never left a soldier on the battlefield POW or missing in action.
The first aircraft to exceed the speed of sound (Mach 1) was the Bell X-1, the rocket propelled research aircraft shown in the painting. On 14 October 1947, Captain "Chuck" Yeager achieved a speed of 760.5 miles per hour and became the first man in the world to fly through the "sound barrier. " For his unparalleled courage in advancing knowledge of aviation technology, the US Congress presented him a special Medal of Honor in 1976 in recognition of his extraordinary achievement and heroism.