In real life, Hal Moore is every bit the hero that Hollywood made him out to be, and more.
In the well-written biography “Hal Moore: A Soldier Once…and Always,” author Mike Guardia tells how Moore exemplifies the leadership qualities needed in all military leaders both in battle and in peacetime. It is a well-documented study of an exceptional soldier and innovative problem solver.
After graduating from West Point as World War II ended, Moore served three years of occupation duty in Japan with the 11th Airborne Division. His baptism in combat came in Korea with battles that included T-Bone, Old Baldy and Pork Chop Hill. During that war, he served a rifle company commander and as a regimental and divisional staff officer, all with the 7th Infantry Division. Nearly twenty years later, he returned to the 7th Division in Korea as its commanding general.
An early pioneer in the air mobile concept of warfare, Moore’s proved the value of helicopter-borne troops in Vietnam when he led the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry into the remote la Drang Valley and amid two regiments of North Vietnamese regulars. The bloody three day battle was immortalized in the book and movie “We Were Soldiers Once …and Young.” Actor Mel Gibson played the role of Moore, then a lieutenant colonel. With many episodes throughout Moore’s life, the book proves there was no embellishment of the man by the movie. A true warrior/leader, Moore received the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions at La Drang.
As Viet Nam wound down, morale and discipline in the U.S. Army hit an all-time low. The author describes how General Moore played a major role in helping the army reinvent itself into an all volunteer organization. His leadership and drive helped restore esprit de corps, higher training standards and discipline to the service. He retired as a lieutenant general after 37 years of service.
“Hal Moore” is a quick read, yet contains sufficient depth to fully understand Moore’s personality, character and motivation. It explores his knack for bringing out the best in his subordinates and for turning poor performing units into extraordinary organizations that became the envy of other commanders.
This biography should be essential reading for every sergeant and officer in the military, and every executive in business.
Reviewed by: Joe Epley (2014)
Hal Moore, one of the most admired American combat leaders of the last 50 years, has until now been best known to the public for being portrayed by Mel Gibson in the movie “We Were Soldiers.” In this first-ever, fully illustrated biography, we finally learn the full story of one of America’s true military heroes.
A 1945 graduate of West Point, Moore’s first combats occurred during the Korean War, where he fought in the battles of Old Baldy, T-Bone, and Pork Chop Hill. At the beginning of the Vietnam War, Moore commanded the 1st Battalion of the 7th Cavalry in the first full-fledged battle between U.S. and North Vietnamese regulars. Drastically outnumbered and nearly overrun, Moore led from the front, and though losing 79 soldiers, accounted for 1,200 of the enemy before the Communists withdrew. This Battle of Ia Drang pioneered the use of “air mobile infantry”—delivering troops into battle via helicopter—which became the staple of U.S. operations for the remainder of the war. He later wrote of his experiences in the best-selling book, We Were Soldiers Once…and Young.