AUBURN, Ala. — Last Thursday, Lt. Gen Hal Moore’s Auburn home was filled with the sounds of “Happy Birthday,” the smell of birthday cake and the voices and faces of his five children and others who loved him.
With his family by his side, Lt. Gen Moore gave a salute. That salute would be his last as he passed away at 11:59 p.m. on Friday; three days before his 95th birthday.
His children said that his passing on the 10th had a certain symmetry to it. Lieutenant General Moore’s late wife, Julie, was born on February 10th.
“I imagine the tombstone when they are buried together will show him born on the 13th and died on the 10th,” Lt. Gen Moore’s oldest son Greg said. “Here beneath his name born on the 10th. It’s a balance that they struck together as a married couple in life, and it’s ironic that it happens in death, but as my daughter said ‘Of course it should happen now because they had to be together for Valentine’s Day.”’
Lieutenant General Moore is widely recognized for his leadership during the first major battle between the U.S. and the People’s Army of Vietnam in the Ia Drang Valley back in Nov. 1965. His 7th Calvary was heavily outnumbered, but after three days, the enemy quit. His leadership gave him the Distinguished Service Cross. This event was put in print with the 1992 NY Times Best Seller, We Were Soldiers Once and Young. Ten years later, the book was adapted into the film We Were Soldiers starring Mel Gibson.
“Trying to explain to civilians like us what that love is in combat between soldiers is so difficult, but for him so important that we understand that and he honor his troops whom he loved is why I believe he wrote the book,” Greg Moore said.
His family said he was known as “Captain Fun” as he was always making sure that the family was together along with a great sense of humor. His family also said that he was a ferocious reader along with a devout Catholic. His kids say that their father taught them many different things such as discipline, to never be passive along with his three principles: giving your kids the best education, getting your kids teeth fixed and there is always one more thing you can do.
His son Greg said that his father would admit that he would have never become a general without the support of his loving wife and her ability to expose him to the rest of the world.
Moore added that the life story of his father is also a love story; a love of his family, wife and his troops.
While posting on the Facebook page dedicated to his father after his passing, Greg said he and his brother heard the sound of an ice cream truck in the distance. When they listened closer, they heard the sound of the Garry Owen Ballad of the 7th Calvary. When they heard that, they knew their father was at home with the loves of his life: his wife and his troops.
The viewing will take place from 2 to 7 P.M. Central Time on Thursday, Feb. 16 at Jeffcoat-Trant Funeral Home in Opelika. A funeral mass will be held at 8:30 A.M. (central) the following day at St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Auburn. A memorial service will be held after at Fort Benning at 1 P.M.(eastern) at the National Infantry Museum with an internment to follow at Fort Benning Post Cemetery. A reception will be held at the National Infantry Museum once the burial service is complete.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Ia Drang Scholarship Fund, c/o Executive Director, 1st Calvary Division Association, 302 North Main, Copperas Cove, TX 76522.