WEST POINT, N.Y. (May 20, 2010) -- Long before the Warrior Ethos was added to the Army lexicon, a Soldier by the name of Hal Moore epitomized those attributes and ingrained them into the troops he led in battle. His actions are well-documented in print and film when he commanded a battalion against overwhelming forces in the first major battle of the Vietnam War. Now his legacy will reverberate among the warrior-athletes at West Point, N.Y.
Retired Lt. Gen. Harold "Hal" Moore returned to his alma mater May 10 for the Warrior Athlete of Excellence Award dedication ceremony. The award, which bears his name, will be presented annually to a male and female cadet from the graduating class who exemplify the leadership qualities of Moore and the tenets of the Warrior Ethos on the athletic playing fields and in the Department of Physical Education combatives program.
"The mental toughness, the perseverance and the teamwork learned through sports transfers directly to building that warrior ethos that served him and his men so well in Vietnam, and that same ethos serves our graduates today in Iraq and Afghanistan," Lt. Gen. Buster Hagenbeck, West Point superintendent, said.
Accompanying the decorated Korean and Vietnam War veteran was close friend and manager for the St. Louis Cardinals Tony LaRussa, as well as retired Command Sgt. Maj. Basil Plumley, Moore's senior noncommissioned officer at the Battle of Ia Drang.
Moore delighted attendees with stories about his time at West Point and his close relationship with Plumley. Moore recalled the years it took, knocking door-to-door at senate offices, to get an appointment to West Point. After securing an Annapolis slot, he bargained with one congressman to swap that appointment for one to West Point.
"And I learned a valuable lesson from that," Moore said. "In any situation, in any problem, there's always a solution. There's always one more thing you can do to influence the situation in your favor."
Moore said he struggled for that cherished diploma. Most nights, after Taps was played, Moore would camp out in the commode, studying mathematics for hours after "lights out."
"And I'm proud to say that I graduated at the top of ... the bottom 15 percent of my class," Moore said, as laughter broke out among the audience. "But I did get what I wanted. I got my diploma at West Point."
When asked what one lesson he would pass onto cadets who will become future combat leaders, Moore referred to his comrade-in-arms and top NCO.
"The first thing that any officer should do when he reports into his unit ... if he's a second lieutenant, the first thing to do is go to his platoon sergeant, and say 'Sergeant, I want you to teach me how to be a good platoon leader.' If he's the company commander, go to the first sergeant, 'First sergeant, I want your advice on how to be a good company commander,'" Moore said.
The wall plaque was unveiled at Arvin Cadet Physical Development Center, and is several feet away from the Coach K Teaching Character Through Sport Award commemorative plaques, another honor presented annually to West Point athletes. The Lt. Gen. Harold "Hal" G. Moore Warrior Athlete of Excellence Award will be presented for the first time in 2011. Recipients will be selected by a Department of Physical Education panel who will assess the nominees' warrior ethos and demonstrated character attributes on the athletic fields and in the DPE combatives program. Character attributes include mental toughness, coachability, perseverance, athletic skill and Warrior Ethos.