Mike Guardia’s Hal Moore: A Soldier Once… And Always (Casemate, 229 pp., $32.95) is a concise, admiring biography of retired Army Lt. Gen. Harold “Hal” Moore. That is at should be, as there is a lot to admire about Hal Moore, who is best known for his outstanding leadership during the 1965 Battle of the Ia Drang Valley in Vietnam.
Author Mike Guardia, an active-duty Army officer and author (American Guerrilla, Shadow Commander), concentrates on Moore’s military career, beginning with his graduation from West Point in 1945 and highlighting his infantry service in the Korean War and in Vietnam.
Moore’s Vietnam War story has been told before, primarily in the two books he wrote with former Vietnam War correspondent Joe Galloway: the classic memoir We Were Soldiers Once… and Young, (1992), and We Are Soldiers Still (2008), the sequel that tells the back story of the battle and a 1993 TV documentary that brought Moore and Galloway back to the battlefield.
As we wrote in our review in print edition of The VVA Veteran: “Told in Moore’s strong first-person voice, this readable narrative goes over the basics of the November 1965 actions at Landing Zones X-Ray and Albany, the fiercest components of the 34-day Battle of the Ia Drang Valley.
“Moore, then a lieutenant colonel, showed exceptional courage and leadership as he saved his under-strength battalion from certain obliteration under a withering attack from a 2, 000-man North Vietnamese Army regiment. Galloway, a UPI reporter, had a front-row seat for the vicious fight that lasted almost three days.
“In their new book, Moore and Galloway present revealing portraits of two former enemy commanders, Gens. Nguyen Huu An and Chu Huy Man, whom the authors met—and bonded with—in Vietnam nearly three decades after the battle.
“This book (along with its prequel and the Randall Wallace Hollywood film We Were Soldiers ) proves that Hal Moore is an exceptionally thoughtful, compassionate, intelligent, and courageous leader of men. He was one of a handful of Army officers who studied the history of the Vietnam wars before he arrived. Since the war ended, he has been a strong voice for reconciliation and for honoring the sacrifices of the men with whom he served.”
Guardia leans heavily on the two books in his account of Moore’s life, along with interviews he conducted with his ninety-year-old subject, with members of his family, and with veterans who served with him.