Harold G. "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 82nd 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 Central Intelligence Agency, 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, he was selected to command a battalion in the newly formed air mobile 11th Airborne Test Division at Fort Benning, Georgia.
For nearly a year, he spearheaded doctrinal development and tactical employment of this emerging capability. The 11th Airborne Test Division re-flagged 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 fought and won the first major American battle of the Vietnam War against more than 2,000 North Vietnamese regulars. Immediately after the hard-fought battle, he was promoted to colonel and given command of the 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, which he continued to lead in combat for 235 more days.
Before retiring in 1977 as a lieutenant general after 32 years of service, Moore had served in Norway with NATO, commanded the 7th Infantry Division in Korea and the Army installation at Fort Ord, California, and was personnel chief of the Army. After four years as executive vice president of a major Colorado ski area, Moore co-authored with journalist Joseph Galloway the best selling bookWe Were Soldiers Once...and Young , published in 1992. The movie version, We Were Soldiers, 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; he is also a qualified Army helicopter pilot, holds two Combat Infantry Badges and earned the Purple Heart and the Distinguished Service Cross, among many other awards for valor. During his military career, he earned accelerated promotions six times. He completed advanced studies at Harvard University and has earned many civilian accolades for his lifelong service to the nation.
Moore has residences in Auburn, Alabama, and Crested Butte, Colorado. He and his wife Juliewho passed away in April 2004have five children and twelve grandchildren. Despite his many accolades, he claims his proudest achievement to be that, in all of his many battles during two wars, he never left a soldier on the battlefield to become a prisoner of war or missing in action.
During the period of 14-16 November 1965, then-Lieutenant Colonel Moore led the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry, on an air assault into landing zone X-ray in the Central Highlands of Vietnam, where they fought and dispatched two enemy regiments from their sanctuary in the Ia Drang Valley. On 23 November 1965, Moore was promoted to colonel and given command of the 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, including the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the 7th Cavalry.