Fort Benning, Georgia was officially designated as Fort Moore on Thursday, becoming the fifth Army installation to change its namesake from that of a Confederate general. As the traditional home of the Army’s Infantry branch – and since 2011 the Armor branch, – as well as one of the Army’s largest Basic Combat Training centers, it’s one of the service’s most storied bases. 

Uniquely among US military bases, the name honors a married couple, Lt. Gen. Harold J. “Hal” Moore and Julie Moore. 

Moore was a celebrated infantry officer who served in Korea and Vietnam, and whose career is widely known in infantry circles through his battlefield memoir, We Were Soldiers Once… And Young. A movie based on the book featured Mel Gibson as Moore. The book covers Moore’s command in November 1965 of the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment during the Battle of Ia Drang.

For much of her husband’s Army career, Julie Moore devoted her time to reforming the way the Army delivered casualty notifications.  She also made sure that she attended funeral ceremonies for soldiers killed in her husband’s battalion. 

Moore passed away in 2017, and both he and his wife are buried at the post that now bears their names. 

“The relationships the Moore’s created and instilled in soldiers, spouses and this community during their career, and especially throughout the Vietnam War, were catalysts for the Army,” said Maj. Gen. Curtis Buzzard, commander of the United States Army Maneuver Center of Excellence, during the ceremony. “And forever changed how we value and take care of our own.”

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Thursday’s ceremony was the latest base rededication, as the Army moves to redesignate all bases named for Confederate generals by the end of 2023 after the Defense Department approved the recommendations of the Naming Commission in 2022. 

The Moores replace Henry L. Benning as the namesake of the sprawling fort in southwest Georgia. Benning was a Confederate officer who — in contrast to several other rebel generals whose names are on US bases — never served in the United States Army.

The base was first established during World War I in October 1918 as a training camp for infantry soldiers. The post quickly gained prominence as the Army’s preeminent center of training and innovation. In the 1920s, then-Lt. Col. George C. Marshall was instrumental in revising training at the base’s Infantry School. In the 1930s, it was home to the Army’s first experiments with mechanized warfare, and in the 1940s the Army’s first airborne units received initial training there. The first Ranger School classes were held at the base in 1952, and in the 1960s the first airmobile unit was established there. Moore was among the first commanders in those helicopter-born units.

Moore was commissioned from West Point as an infantry officer in 1945, serving in airborne units and as a company commander in Korea. In 1964, he took command of what was soon redesignated as the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, and led that unit through a deployment to Vietnam in 1965, where he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions at the aforementioned Battle of Ia Drang. He would continue on, serving as a division commander and head of Fort Ord, California. In both positions, Moore was noted for his fairness and efforts to overcome the increasing racial strife in the military, crafting the Army’s first equal opportunity policies. Moore would later retire in 1977.

Above all, the Moore family was noted for their care and compassion for soldiers. 

“I cannot begin to express how much I respected him as a leader and mentor,” recalled retired Col. Bob Edwards, who served under Moore for 19 months as a company commander. “When commanding an Infantry battalion I tried to lead as he had done.  In a similar fashion, my wife learned from Julie Moore how to care for Army wives and families. Hal and Julie Moore were a unique couple. Their legacy and contributions to the United States Army deserve the recognition that would come from having [Fort] Benning renamed in their honor.”

“Leadership, he said, is not about being in charge, it’s about taking care of those in your charge,” Buzzard said at Thursday’s ceremony. 

The next Army base to receive a new name will also be a major one. Fort Bragg, North Carolina is set to become Fort Liberty on June 2. 

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