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Renaming of Fort Benning to Honor Lt. Gen. Hal Moore and Julia Moore

Lt Gen Hal Moore and Wife Julia Moore

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“Wait. Wait. I’ll take it to her… and tell the cab company if there are any others, just bring them to me.”

Julia Moore, We Were Soldiers

For decades, I would play this scene from the movie, We Were Soldiers, based on the book by Lieutenant General Hal Moore and Joe Galloway in my theatre classes – a scene where Madeline Stowe, (playing Moore’s wife, Julia), thinks that the taxi driver walking to her door is delivering the dreaded telegram. Even as recently as the Vietnam War, families of soldiers killed in action were notified of the death by a yellow telegram, delivered by strangers, any time of day or night. As Stowe slowly brings herself to open her front door, she finds out that he just needs directions – directions to someone else’s house. The reality of what that tiny slip of paper holds drives her to ask for the telegram and to instruct him to bring all the rest to her, too. Little did I know then what this woman, her story, and mission would mean to me personally as I walked beside spouses and families through 20 years of war.

I was honored to receive the Julia C. Moore award when Jamie retired out of Fort Benning in 2019, and, as I stood there holding it, tears just streamed down my face. Julia Moore has been a hero of mine for a long time. She stood up to the Army after the battle of the Ia Drang Valley during the Vietnam War and demanded that they do better, demanded that the Army change their notification policies…and they did, just weeks later. Now, any of us who has ever tried to get a change in PCS dates or asked for an exemption to policy knows that changes in the Army are about as likely to happen as changing words on our Constitution. But that is who Julia was: a fierce ally for her fellow military spouses and families. She stood up for Charity, Miranda, Haidy and so many others that I know and love, so that, on the worst day of their lives, they were not just handed a yellow telegram by a stranger in a taxi; they were, instead, met with compassion, dignity, and a hand to hold them upright. Julia Moore stood up and said that families mattered, too. Families also serve this great nation through their own sacrifice and deserved to be treated as such.

The Army is currently moving to change the names of nine installations across America – installations that are currently named to commemorate the Confederate States of America or any person who served voluntarily with the Confederate States of America. Fort Benning, where Jamie and I have lived three times and where our twin sons were born, is one of them. The Naming Commission has recommended that it be renamed Fort Moore, after BOTH Lt. Gen. Hal Moore and his incredible wife, Julia. It would be the only military installation in the world to include the name of a military spouse. I can think of no one that deserves that honor more than Julia. Through her life as a military brat, spouse, and mother, she waited through World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Panama, and the Gulf War, and, had she lived long enough, she would have waited as a son served in Iraq, as well.

Lt. Gen. Moore writes in the appendix of his book, We Are Soldiers Still, that, from her hospice bed, Julia told Joe Galloway, (their longtime friend and co-author of his books): “Oh, Joe. We’ve come so far together, and we still have so far to go.”

You don’t, Julia. We have you. It’s our turn. You showed us how, with hands outstretched, to say, “Bring it to us; we will take care of them.”

Tags :
Army,Fort Benning,Fort Moore,Julia Moore,Lt Gen Hal Moore,Military Spouse,Vietnam,We are Soldiers Still,We Were Soldiers,Yellow Telegram
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2 Responses

  1. What I heard first hand about Joe Galloway’s book and Gen. Moore’s leadership came from the mouth of their friend, the remarkable “Gen. Sam” Wilson. After a meeting of the advisory board of the Center for Leadership in the Public Interest at Hampden-Sydney College (now named for him) I asked Gen. Sam for his take on the Vietnam War. Having served in the Americal Division as a Field Artillery First Lieutenant in the 1st of the 14th Field Artillery Regiment, I had a few thoughts of my own. At the end of our conversation, Sam shared that he had recently been on the phone with Joe Galloway and Hal Moore! Apparently they spoke frequently about current and past military events, often because one or more of them had been asked to suggest a way or ways to approach a current problem. My career led me to international fisheries negotiations in the U.S. Department of State. That there was a pattern of consultation between present-day senior Pentagon officials and their predecessors (and THEIR trusted advisors) was both reassuring and surprising! When Gen. Sam then recommended I read both Joe Galloway’s “We were young…” account of the Battle of the Ia Drang Valley and John Paul Van’s “Bright Shining Lie,” without directly responding to a question like, “Didn’t the Pentagon see that there were errors in how that war was being conducted? “ spoke volumes to me, as a mid-career public servant. Those three wise men are now gone.
    Learning of the role of Gen. Moore’s Julia in righting wrongs that were within her power to change is the icing “on the cake” of mighty examples of the ways every single one of us can lead by deeds and by examples.
    To have known even just one member of that group personally was not only an honor but also a challenge!

  2. The leadership center is named for MG Wilson, not the college! It has had the same name since 1776!

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