Hal Moore on Fair and Equal Treatment

Hal Moore’s Five Principles of Human Relations

  1. Professional accomplishment of missions and tasks, with great attention to improving interpersonal relationships and communications between people.
  2. Equal opportunity—fair, decent, honest treatment of one another, especially by leaders towards subordinates.
  3. Better care of people, to include provision of their different ethnic and minority group needs.
  4. Better understanding between different “generations” and different grades of the outlooks and viewpoints of all.
  5. Better understanding between the different ethnic and minority groups of the outlooks and viewpoints, histories, and cultures of all.

Major General Hal Moore
Commanding General, Fort Ord, CA
July 21st, 1973


Fair Treatment and Equal Rights Foundation

With Vets at 94 years old
With veterans of the LZ Xray battle at age 94

Hal Moore’s “Five Principles” reflects a moral foundation of equal rights and fair treatment of all people that found its origin in his youth, military education, and throughout his career. Hal Moore’s principles were founded upon a leadership style to manage people in ways that maintain their trust and loyalty while preserving their dignity.

Moore’s career was centered on identifying and developing men and women who could lead, win, and bring their troops home. Hal Moore’s “Five Principles” formed the bedrock of his approach. These principles reflected a moral code of equal rights and fair treatment which were exemplified throughout his youth, military education, and command responsibilities. He created and implemented innovative policies to ensure fairness, create opportunity, and enforce non-discrimination for all his soldiers. Senior military commanders noted that the “outstanding capabilities of General Moore are exemplified by his handling of minority problems; the confidence placed in General Moore by minorities; and the confidence of all other races and creeds in their commander.”

I. Early Grounding in the Catholic Faith

Hal’s story began in Bardstown, Kentucky, a tiny community tucked in the foothills of the Ohio River Valley. His generation grew up experiencing the hardships of the Great Depression. His family coped with adversity by turning intensely to their faith as strict Catholics. Under the tutelage of his family and reinforced by his mentor, Brother Theopane, at the St. Joseph Preparatory School. Hal embraced the religion and its teachings. The 1934 Catechism of the Catholic Church contained this key requirement:

Created in the image of the one God and equally endowed with rational souls, all men have the same nature and the same origin. Redeemed by the sacrifice of Christ, all are called to participate in the same divine beatitude: all therefore enjoy an equal dignity.”

Hal’s approach to soldiers was grounded in this fundamental philosophy: “all men have the same nature and the same origin.”

II. West Point (1942-1945)

Hal Moore at West Point
Cadet Hal Moore

Hal’s first experience at West Point forged a foundation treating others with dignity and respect; albeit for quite a different circumstance. As Hal recounts the situation, “Each squad had two different squad leaders. The first was an arrogant, sadistic person who screamed and yelled at us, made us do unmerciful physical exercises, apparently with the goal of driving the weak to quit the Academy. I despised that man.” From this experience, Hal Moore internalized that a leader should never be arrogant, spiteful, condescending, or engage in gossip. To the contrary, he should always act with humility and treat his subordinates with respect and dignity.

With the program of instruction truncated to three years because of the pressures of World War II, graduation week finally arrived. In 1945, racial prejudice and discrimination was a problem at the Academy. Moore’s classmates sought to exclude Ernie Davis, a black classmate, from a graduation week company picnic. As documented in the 2013 biography, Hal Moore… A Soldier Once and Always, written by Mike Guardia, Moore immediately objected and threatened to boycott the event. The class respected Hal’s strong objection and welcomed Davis and his family to the event. Hal’s willingness to buck the trend of racial bigotry stands as one of his core leadership principles and beliefs about humanity: “A good leader never discriminates or alienates based on race, color, or other genetic factors.”

III. Vietnam (1965-1966)

To Hal Moore, his troopers were his family, an attitude dating back at least to his time fighting in Korea. His view of his soldiers is captured in this single line from a letter sent on October 28, 1952, when he celebrated the reorganization of his unit after the Triangle Hill battle:

Finally got our family back together, all but our D/S Engineer Company.”

Hal Moore built teams as family.

Moore moves to join troops under fire at Lz 4 during Bong Son
Moore moves to join troops under fire at Lz 4 during the Bong Son Campaign

One of his “Efficiency Reports” — key promotion reviews written by senior commanders evaluating subordinate officers — makes the point that Hal Moore was not only respected but loved.

“He is personally bold in battle, almost, I repeat, almost to a fault. He goes where the fighting is hardest and there makes his own on-the-ground assessment of what to do. His subordinates love him and would follow him anywhere.”

An article published in the Detroit Free Press on February 7, 1966, echoed that sentiment:

A few days ago in a medivac plane an American soldier who sat clutching a shattered arm was asked: ‘What do you think of your commanding officer?’ ‘I’d go anywhere with that SOB.’ The soldier said promptly.”

IV. Korea (1968-1970)

Hal confronted the challenge of eliminating racism several years later when he was posted back to Korea.

The Army Center for Military History provides the background:

“During the latter part of the Vietnam War racial tensions in civilian society combined with growing opposition to the war to create a major disruption of good order and discipline in the Army. Many younger African American soldiers developed a new emphasis on race, which was reflected in self-imposed separation, displays of racial pride and solidarity, and quick reactions to what these soldiers felt were racial slights or discrimination, whether by individuals or the Army. The most evident displays of this new consciousness were the numerous race riots that occurred in the Army during this period at home and abroad. The younger soldiers often dismissed black career soldiers as Uncle Toms who refused to challenge inequities within the Army. This perception, along with the erosion of the noncommissioned corps during the war, greatly impeded the ability of sergeants to maintain discipline.”

Junior Officer Schools Article

In early May 1970, Hal was stationed in Seoul, Korea, serving as the G-3 (Plans and Operations) of the 8th Army. In the middle of the night, the duty officer informed him that black soldiers were rioting in the 7th Infantry Division at its two main camps near the Demilitarized Zone with North Korea. Several buildings were burning in the camps and the barracks were trashed. The 8th Army Commander relieved the 7th Division Commanding General and ordered Moore to fly up assume command. Over a 10-day period, Moore flew his helicopter to each of his camps in South Korea and talked for fifteen minutes or so to every unit in the division. He wrote, “Since the biggest problem facing me was the highly flammable racial situation, my top priority was to get that cooled down and under control. My principal message was that I would see to it that every man would be treated fair and square, and it was up to every man to rise as far as his abilities would take him.”

He identified significant problems, “Early on, it was clear to me that many of the race relations problems and perceptions and real cases of discrimination occurred at the small unit level. As I checked into that, the other small-unit leadership deficiencies came to light.” To correct these problems at the small-unit level, Moore instituted an Leadership School for company-grade officers as well as one for staff sergeants and below. Each course was a weeklong (Sunday-Saturday), and taught by instructors carefully selected from across the division. Moore himself even taught a few of these courses.

7th Infantry Division EO Policy
7th Infantry Division EO Policy

Hal Moore crafted and announced a policy of equal opportunity and fair treatment – a policy he called “a basic principle.”

  1. “People are our most important asset in the 7th Infantry Division.
  2. In all that we do, each person must be respected as an individual, recognizing his aspirations, capabilities, and personal needs.
  3. Each man must be continually provided fair treatment and equal opportunity within appropriate regulations, to rise to as high a level of responsibility as his talent and diligence will take.”

Moore’s Efficiency Reports for his time as the 7th Infantry Division Commanding General document his success in quelling racial animosity:

“General Moore has done a superbly outstanding job as Commanding General of the 7th Infantry Division. Possessed by a keen sense of dedication, unflagging energy and highly motivated, he has done all jobs assigned to him in an exemplary manner. He analyzed a difficult race relations situation and solved it with firmness and tact. He showed uncommon initiative and exhibited great professional leadership in installing high standards of training, maintenance, and discipline within his division. … He took great pains to develop his juniors and led them not only by teaching, but by personal example.”

General John H. Michaelis, the Commanding General of the 8th Army, added his endorsement:

“MG Moore has demonstrated, under extremely difficult conditions, those attributes of personal decorum, highest professional standards, and superb leadership, which led to enthusiastic loyalty from his subordinates and complete confidence of his seniors. I consider this young General Officer to be an outstanding Division Commander who led by example and accepted only the highest duty standards from himself and his subordinates. Of particular importance, in this day of dissent, was General Moore’s ability to communicate with his personnel—to be familiar and conversant with their problems, imagined or actual. The outstanding capabilities of General Moore are exemplified by his handling of minority problems; the confidence placed in General Moore by minorities; and the confidence of all other races and creeds in their commander.

V. Ford Ord (Monterey, CA, (1971-1973)

Fort Ord EO Policy
Fort Ord EO Policy

 After commanding the 7th Infantry Division, Moore’s next assignment was equally challenging – commanding the training center at Fort Ord, CA – another focal point of antiwar and virulent race relationship issues. Moore brought his philosophy of fair and equal treatment to these challenges by personally establishing principles of human relations and implementing a Human Relations Board comprised of human relations staff officers and noncommissioned officers, an equal employment opportunity officer, and human relations counselors.

After one year in command at Fort Ord, Moore’s Efficiency Reports highlight his absolute commitment to racial equality:

MG Moore is the best training Center commander I have known. … “Innovative, imaginative, intelligent and forceful, he combines these talents with a complete and very evident dedication to mission accomplishment and to the fair and equal treatment of all, regardless of race or creed. He has instituted, and actively pursues, many excellent programs for the personnel at Fort Ord, including but not limited to racial relations, drug and alcohol abuse, leadership, self-discipline, human sensitivity, and community relations. He is a truly outstanding officer and definitely Lieutenant General material.”

“Ingenious, aggressive, keenly intelligent and discerning, MG Moore is a top-flight leader who has wrought innumerable improvements in the command and management of Fort Ord. Possessed of an unusual empathy with people in general and troops in particular, his leadership during a period of social tumult has been nothing short of inspired. He is a soldier-oriented General who has proven himself a total advocate and practitioner of equal opportunities for all. General Moore’s superbly outstanding performance was characterized by a very imaginative and innovative approach to the challenge of training young men for today’s Army without prejudicing military discipline.”

But Moore’s involvement with equal opportunity would not end with troop duty. Clearly ahead of Army leadership and policy when he issued his principles on equal opportunity at the 7th Infantry Division in Korea in 1970 and at Fort Ord in 1972, his next two assignments put him in a leadership role to implement these principles on a larger and more permanent scale within the Army.

VI. Implementing Racial Justice as Head of Army Personnel (1973-1977)

From August 1973 through November 1974, Moore was the Commanding General of the Army’s Military Personnel Center. Following that assignment, he took overall charge of Army personnel policy when he served as the Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel (DSCPER) from November 1974 until his retirement in July 1977. As the Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel, Moore drove the equal opportunity policy and aligned it with the lessons he learned from Korea and Fort Ord.

During this period, he developed and was a key advocate in favor of the new “Army Equal Opportunity Program,” introduced in 1973. As the Commanding General of the Personnel Center, he was responsible for implementing the program. Upon his promotion to Lt General and reassignment to be the DCSPER, he was able to set Army policy and aligned it with his vision of equality. According to the Army’s Center for Military History, the program featured several reinforcing components:

“The Army required minority representation on all officer selection boards, sought to commission more African Americans, and increased the number of blacks attending senior service colleges. A program to achieve a more equitable distribution of black soldiers in highly technical military occupational specialties was adopted. The Army also adopted a new Racial Awareness Program designed to improve interracial communication through a formal race relations course. The cornerstone of the program was the mandatory race relations seminar. Also included were such activities as Black History Week, the observance of significant calendar events, and unit race relations conferences. These actions, together with the end of the Vietnam War, brought a gradual end to open hostilities within the service.”

VII. Hal Moore’s Legacy of Racial Equity

Based upon a foundation of religious teachings that instilled in him the principle that each man and woman has dignity in the eyes of God, Hal Moore sought to ensure all soldiers were given every opportunity to achieve success and, more fundamentally, race could never be a consideration. Hal acted on these principles from the very beginning of his career at West Point and carried them through the most racially challenging times in American history to become fundamental policies permanently in place in the United States Army. These are principles that Hal Moore knew were true — right from the start. They remain so in his legacy and in his memory. Hal Moore’s Five Principles of Human Relations are as relevant today as they were when created.

VIII. Confirmation

On March 5, 2002, Alabama State Senator Charles Langford, the African American attorney who represented Rosa Parks in the famous civil rights case, joined with 34 other Senators to sponsor Resolution Number 66 honoring the Hal Moore for his “distinguished and decorated military career.” This was merely one of five different resolutions from three states recognizing his character. All were summarized in the Congressional Record where the Honorable Sanford D. Bishop Jr, the African American Congressman who represented the district that included Fort Benning and Columbus, GA introduced his submission with the words:

Congressional RecordMr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to one of the most courageous and distinctive military leaders of our time…

And concluded with:

Mr. Speaker, today I ask my colleagues to join me, my wife, Vivian, the nearly 730,000 people in Georgia’s 2nd Congressional District, and all Americans, in extending our sincerest appreciation to Lieutenant General Hal Moore, an outstanding leader who, in addition to his selfless service and instrumental role in the Korean and Vietnam Wars, has the respect, admiration, and affection of his brothers-in-arms.”

That respect, admiration and affection stemmed from Hal Moore’s commitment to his core leadership principle:

A good leader never discriminates or alienates based on race

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Beyond the individual contributions of Hal Moore, renaming Fort Benning also recognizes the equally important contributions of the military spouse and family.
His many accomplishments make General Davis deserving of this honor – even more so when you see how he had to overcome crushing prejudice to achieve greatness.

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