Julie Moore – A Military Spouse Extraordinaire

Julie Moore - A Military Spouse Extraordinaire

Frank T. Stritter, Contributing Writer

Hal Moore (Lt. Gen, USA) (1922-2017) was an exceptional leader during the Vietnam Era. He had an extraordinary spouse who facilitated his career in many ways. Her name was Julia (1929-2004), but she was known as Julie.

Hal met Julie in 1948 when she was home at Fort Bragg on vacation, and they married in 1949. They then began a shared military journey that displaced them 28 times to 10 states and two countries.

Julie loved her husband’s soldiers, focusing on their families. She threw herself into volunteer work, supporting soldiers and their families in any way she could. She served as a Red Cross volunteer working in Army hospitals and dental clinics. She worked in tirelessly in daycare centers to ensure that they received attention and support from the chain of command. She volunteered as a Brownie and Girl Scout leader and a Cub Scout Den mother as another way to connect with families and their issues.

Julie recognized the critical role of Wives Clubs in each of her husband’s assignments and used them to organize mutual support. She reached out to new wives to ease their transition from civilian life into the broader military family.

Julie led in establishing Army Community Service programs (ACS) that equipped families with skills helpful in facing the challenges of military life. She used ACS to provide help to families when deploying or relocating,  information and referrals about financial assistance and employment, or help in crises.

Perhaps Julie’s most significant contribution to the war effort came when Hal’s unit was deployed to Vietnam.  Neither Fort Benning nor the Army was prepared for the Vietnam War nor the Ia Drang campaign. Two Army practices contributed to Julie’s decision to take action. First, in a heartless decision, the Army gave military families 30 days to move off post after a unit’s deployment and into civilian housing. 438 families of Hal’s 1st  Battalion of the 7th Cavalry quickly scrambled to search for housing.  The Moores were forced to move into a house so small that Julie had to set up a cot for their youngest son each night. She pleaded with the Department of the Army that the policy be changed.

The Army was soon overwhelmed by the many combat death notices sent to unsuspecting families. The Army callously handed the telegrams to taxi drivers, expecting them to deliver the notices to families, typically isolated in small apartments, trailer parks, and one-room walk-ups. Horrified by this callous decision, Julie demanded to know which of Hal’s unit member’s families would receive telegrams and then followed each taxi driver to the door, ensuring that no one received the terrible news alone. She comforted each family and grieved with the widows of the fallen.

Julie then attended the local funeral of every one of those soldiers lost in combat. She advocated for a more humane system and took her complaint all the way to the Pentagon. Julie challenged and eventually stopped that practice.  Thanks to her tireless efforts, the Army instituted the policy of having each notice delivered by a team of a uniformed officer and a chaplain. This practice then became standard throughout the military.

Julie contributions to the military were recognized in her husband’s annual appraisals with such comments as “great asset to our own military community and the Army.” Her legacy continues today with an award in her name. The Julia Compton Moore Award recognizes civilian spouses of soldiers for “Outstanding Contribution to the U.S. Army.”  She was a model for all military spouses.

Julie died in 2004 and is buried at Fort Benning next to her husband. .

In 2021 Congress tasked the Department of Defense with creating a  Naming Commission to recommend new names for nine Army bases that had previously commemorated Civil War Confederate leaders. The Commission recommended that Fort Benning’s name be changed to Fort Moore to honor Hal and Julie Moore. It summarized its recommendation by saying: “Fort Moore would uniquely honor the families of slain soldiers and highlight the military spouse’s invaluable contribution to combat readiness…. Fort Benning should be named for the couple that exemplifies America’s highest standards of command and compassion — Hal and Julie Moore.”  The Department of Defense is expected to act on the recommendations by 2024.