HomePoliticsHow a new military base name honors a military spouse and mother

How a new military base name honors a military spouse and mother

Fort Benning is now officially Fort Moore, the only US base to be named after a married couple.

Arin Yoon, a photographer and military wife, has been documenting the military community for more than 10 years. She reported from Fort Moore, Georgia.

Lieutenant General Harold G. Moore commanded troops in the first major battle of the Vietnam War, a role played in a book and a movie. His wife, Julia, was an advocate for military spouses and changed the way family members are notified when a service member dies.

In his honor, Fort Benning in Georgia officially became Fort Moore Thursday when the Department of Defense removed Confederate names and symbols from military property. Fort Moore is the only base named after a married couple.

“Together, Hal and Julie Moore embody the best of our military and the best of our nation,” Maj. Gen. Curtis Buzzard, commanding officer of Fort Moore, said at a ceremony marking the change, referring to Gen. Moore by his nickname.

“By honoring them, Fort Moore recognizes the sacrifices of all veterans, especially those of Vietnam,” he added. “It also reinforces the important role Army spouses and families play in the success of our armed forces.”

Protests over the 2020 police killing of George Floyd sparked broader conversations about racism and called for renaming of sites that honored Confederate officers who fought to preserve slavery and white supremacy. A committee created by Congress to recommend new names for nine US bases selected Fort Moore for Fort Benning, which had been named after a pro-slavery general more than 50 years after the end of the Civil War.

In his remarks Thursday, General Buzzard reflected on General Moore’s contribution to Army integration. “As the commanding general of Fort Ord, California, during a time of high racial tension, Hal instituted an equal opportunity policy that prohibited discrimination,” he said.

After graduating from West Point, General Moore served in the military for more than 30 years, with assignments all over the world. But he is perhaps best remembered for his leadership as a lieutenant colonel at the start of the Vietnam War.

In November 1965, the military leader led his outnumbered troops into the Ia Drang Valley and bloody fighting ensued. The North Vietnamese troops withdrew in what was considered a tactical victory for the United States. But the casualties were heavy. In 72 hours, 79 US soldiers were killed and 121 wounded.

“In battle our world was reduced to the man on our left and the man on our right and the enemy on all sides,” General Moore recalled in his memoirs, “We were soldiers once…and young.” The battle and his actions were later depicted in a film starring Mel Gibson.

On the home front, military families stationed at Fort Benning began receiving Western Union telegrams with news of the losses of these young husbands, fathers, and children. Not used to notifying so many families at once, the Army hired taxi drivers to deliver the telegrams.

Julie Moore saw that this practice lacked compassion and humanity. “It was a very cruel way to tell a woman that her world had come to an end,” she wrote in a letter.

She and other spouses began accompanying the taxi drivers and comforting the wives upon being notified. Because of her work, the Department of Defense began requiring that an officer and a chaplain be present when a family is notified.

His dedication to military families led to the development of Army Community Services, which offers educational programs and resources to help support Soldiers and their families, especially during frequent deployments and moves.

Julie and Hal Moore, who had five children, moved 28 times in 32 years. Active duty military personnel move once every two to three years on average, according to the Department of Defense, contributing to a high unemployment rate for military spouses. During deployments, training exercises and other assigned duties, military spouses, most of whom are women, often raise their children alone.

When soldiers return home, they go through a reintegration process, and families adjust as well. Children sometimes meet or get to know a parent for the first time.

Major Wheeler recalled leaving home for a nine-month deployment just after her daughter was born. When she returned, she said, “Brooklyn wouldn’t let me pick her up.” Ms Wheeler added: “When he came home she wanted nothing to do with him. She was like, ‘Why are you touching my mom?’ It was the craziest experience.”

At the ceremony, the Moores’ youngest son, Dave, a West Point graduate and retired Army colonel, spoke about the values ​​his parents stood for as a military family. “We believe the redesignation of Fort Benning is unique in that, based on the example of Hal and Julie Moore, the Army continues to recognize Army families as essential to Army readiness and mission accomplishment,” he said. he.

As the ceremony ended, Rebecca Gell Workentine started to leave, but stopped to look at the soldiers in the stands. She waved and a sea of ​​hands waved back.

In 1965, she had received one of the dreaded telegrams, saying that her husband, Jack Gell, had been killed in action at Ia Drang.

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