Family honored by renaming of Fort Benning

U.S. Secretary of Defense approved the name change to Fort Moore last month

For Dave, Cecile and Steve Moore, it was the values their parents, Hal and Julie Moore, represented that made the selection to rename Fort Benning after them a great choice.

“We are honored the naming commission seriously considered us and, of course, incredibly honored that they chose us,” Dave Moore told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Fort Benning, outside Columbus, was named after Henry Benning, a Confederate general. A naming commission, established by Congress in 2020 to rename bases that represented the Confederacy, recommended changing Fort Benning to Fort Moore, after Hal and Julie Moore.

“Our family perspective is that Fort Benning is not actually being renamed for our parents, rather it’s being renamed for the values they represent,” Steve Moore said. “The family connection with Fort Benning is deep and long.”

Julie Moore’s father, Louis J. Compton, who would later become an Army Colonel, was assigned to the Alabama Polytechnical Institute in 1921 and would go back and forth to Fort Benning during his assignment. He grew to love the area and, after more than 30 years in the service, retired to Auburn due to its proximity to Fort Benning.

Credit: Moore Family Collection

Credit: Moore Family Collection

By that time, Julie and Hal Moore were married. Hal was an infantryman and Julie’s father hoped Hal would be reassigned to Fort Benning.

Hal Moore completed his officer basic course in 1945 and officer advance course in 1951 at Fort Benning before deploying to Korea in 1952, about a year after Greg was born and just six weeks after Steve was born. The family moved into tract housing in Columbus upon Hal’s deployment before moving to Julie Moore’s parents’ home in Auburn.

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The Moores returned to Fort Benning in 1964 when Hal Moore assumed battalion command and remained there until he deployed to Vietnam in 1965. He led the 7th Cavalry Division, 1st Battalion and the 1st Cavalry Division in the Battle of Ia Drang, the first major battle of the Vietnam War. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions during the fight.

Credit: Robert Martin - U.S. Army

Credit: Robert Martin - U.S. Army

He would later be promoted to colonel and assume command of the 3rd Brigade, which he led through several campaigns in 1966. While Hal was fighting in Vietnam, Julie was advocating for military families at Fort Benning.

The Army gave 438 families 30 days to move off post and into civilian housing, to provide space for new soldiers coming into Fort Benning to train, Dave Moore said. Overwhelmed by hundreds of death notices, the Army began to deliver telegrams to taxi drivers, who would then inform families. She began to tag along with the drivers to support the families getting the awful news.

“She got together with the other wives and just raised holy Hell with the leadership at Fort Benning, demanding that this inhumane notification process stop,” Steve Moore said. His mother’s efforts resulted in a more dignified process, where uniformed personnel deliver the worst news to military families, he said.

“While Dad concentrated on making sure his troopers were prepared for anything they would encounter, Mom focused on the family aspect,” he said.

Credit: Moore Family Collection

Credit: Moore Family Collection

Julie Moore would attend the funerals of those who died under her husband’s command and her complaints reached all the way to the Pentagon.

During her husband’s Korean deployment, Julie Moore came to realize the importance of support among military families. She would create clubs for military families to gather, share insights and support each other while their loved ones were overseas.

“She was doing her volunteering and everything she did but we never felt like she was never around. She was able to handle it all,” Cecile Moore said. “Mom never met a stranger, she could talk to anybody, she would welcome everybody in. She was just so easy to talk to.”

Credit: U.S. Army

Credit: U.S. Army

In 1968, Hal Moore led the planning for the Army’s withdrawal from Vietnam. He returned to Korea in 1969 and took command of the Training Center at Fort Ord in 1971. He was promoted to Lieutenant General and assigned as the Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel in 1974 before he retired in 1977.

He and war journalist Joseph Galloway in 1992 published the New York Times bestselling “We Were Soldiers Once...and Young,” which chronicled the Battle of the Ia Drang Valley. The book was adapted into the 2002 movie “We Were Soldiers,” starring Mel Gibson as Hal Moore.

“We didn’t have much knowledge until the book came out and we saw everything that they had done,” Cecile Moore said.

Steve Moore said the book shows how his father successfully led his soldiers into battle and details the sacrifices they made during the war, but there’s not much from Hal Moore’s perspective in it.

“It was never about dad, it was always about his troops,” he said. “I only remember Dad saying one thing about his combat experience and that he was cold one day (while on patrol in Korea),” Steve said. “I think he and Joe (Galloway) wrote that book to highlight the value of their troopers and the challenge that they faced in surviving.”

Credit: Moore Family Collection

Credit: Moore Family Collection

Julie Moore died in 2004, while Hal Moore died in 2017. Both are buried at Fort Benning next to soldiers who were killed in Vietnam and close to Julie’s parents.

Their children feel the renaming allows the Army to recognize values that their parents exemplify throughout their lives and military service.

“If you look at Dad’s history, you can see the valor of his troopers, the sacrifice of the men that he served with. When you look at Mom, these comparable sacrifices of the families, to support those on active duty, just becomes crystal clear,” Steve Moore said. He and Dave Moore followed in their father’s footsteps and serve in the Army.

“I hope America embraces this change,” Dave Moore said, “and recognizes, over time, that as something positive and good and sees Mom and Dad as a couple that they would want to emulate in their personal life, in their family life and their professional life.”