Harold “Hal” Moore was a retired three-star Army general, but he will forever be remembered for his courageous actions as the commanding officer of the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry in the Battle of Ia Drang Valley in November 1965.
Memorialized in the book and subsequent movie “We Were Soldiers Once… And Young,” Moore and his battalion conducted an audacious helicopter assault right into the midst of three North Vietnamese regiments in the Central Highlands of South Vietnam and were immediately faced with an enemy onslaught.
Surrounded, outnumbered, and faced with mounting casualties, Moore, then-lieutenant colonel, skillfully orchestrated his unit’s harrowing defense, moving units around to fill gaps, calling in artillery and air support, and most importantly leading by example, exposing himself to all the dangers faced by his men.
The battalion sustained casualties that were unheard of at that early stage of the war, with 71 soldiers being killed during the engagement.
There were multiple moments during the terrible three days and two nights where the unit was in danger of being overrun, but in each instance the troopers of the 1/7 under Moore’s leadership rallied and threw the enemy back.
The North Vietnamese lost over 1,000 soldiers in this pitched battle.
Moore embodied the virtues Americans look for in their heroes.
“We Were Soldiers Once… And Young” wasn’t published until 1992, but it quickly became a mandatory read for Army officers in the 1990s and remains a key volume on most recommended military reading lists.
Of course, it should be on the reading list of Traveller Referees running mercenary/military campaigns, as well.