Hal Moore on Leadership by Mike Guardia

Mike Guardia’s Hal Moore on Leadership: Winning when Outgunned and Outmanned (CreateSpace/Magnum Books, 168 pp., $14.95, paper: $4.99, Kindle) is part biography and part a recounting of leadership lessons developed over a lifetime by Lt. Gen. Hal Moore. The late Gen. Moore is best known for his stellar leadership at the pivotal Battle of the Ia Drang Valley in Vietnam in 1965, and for the epic book he and Galloway wrote about it, We Were Soldiers Once… and Young. In that widely praised book—and in Moore and Galloway’s We Are Soldiers Still—many of the Moore’s leadership points are explored.

Guardia begins with a narrative of the fight at Landing Zone X-ray at the Ia Drang. He then introduces the reader to Hal Moore, concentrating on the principles of the man and the leadership traits he developed during more than thirty years as a military leader.

Over time, Moore crystalized his philosophy of leadership into four main principles.

First: Three strikes and you are not out.

Second: There is always one more thing you can do to influence any situation in your favor, and after that there is one more thing.

Third: When nothing is wrong, there is nothing wrong—except there is nothing wrong. That is when a leader has to be the most alert

Last: Trust your instincts.

Guardia illustrates each of the principles with real-life examples. Perhaps none of them is more touching than the story of Rick Rescorla, one of Moore’s platoon leaders in Vietnam, and one of the heroes of the September 11 attacks in New York City.

Throughout the biographical narrative, Guardia intersperses the leadership points and attributes Moore developed over a lifetime of service and later in his work in the business world. In addition to a generous collection of photographs, Guardia includes several of Moore’s speeches to the business and professional sports communities he often advised.

The book reveals the man and the circumstances that helped him develop his principles. It also  touches on the role Moore’s faith played in developing his character. One of the more revealing stories Guardia tells is that of Hal Moore’s courtship and subsequent marriage to Julia Compton, the daughter of a professional artilleryman.

 

original

Then Lt. Col. Hal Moore at LZ X-Ray in the Ia Drang Valley.  

The book is a profile of the man and his development into the dynamic leader he was. Moore’s leadership points are well placed amid the biographical details.

This is a good book, a blueprint for leaders of all sorts, military as well as business.

The author’s website is mikeguardia.com

—Bud Alley

Editor’s note: VVA member Bud Alley served under Hal Moore in HHC of the 2/7 in the 1st First Cavalry Division in Vietnam in 1965-66. He was a close friend of Rick Rescorla. Both men, he says, “were dynamic leaders of the highest magnitude.”

Vietnam What? by Gianni Ruffo

Gianni Ruffo, the auther of Vietnam What? The True Story of Fictional Characters and Real People (190 pp., $7.99, paper; $4.99, e book), lives in Campobasso, Italy, and works for a bank. He has no military background, but has always been “keen on military history,” he says, particularly World War II and the Vietnam War. He tells us he has a collection of more than 300 documentary items about those wars.

The promise made in the book’s subtitle is kept in the body. We encounter many fictional characters, including Johnny, the protagonist, and we also find that the author has put to good use many of his reference artifacts, especially the books. We get potted encounters and dialogue from such Vietnam War icons as the sniper Carlos Hathcock, Lt. Col. Hal (We Were Soldiers Once) Moore, and a surprise from Dieter Dengler, the German-born Navy pilot who was shot down in Laos, taken prisoner, and later escaped from his Viet Cong captors.

This reader encountered too many clichés, and soon got sick of phrases such as “ready in a wink,” “saving their bacon,” and “straight from the horse’s mouth.” Johnny is a totally unbelievable CIA agent. His frequent use of words and phrases such as “knackered,” “car bonnet,” “rookies” for newbies, and “stinks like a polecat” did not help bring him to life. When he noshed on meatballs, I was tempted to quit reading. But I persisted.

The book gets us to the 1968 Tet Offensive, and Johnny goes on and on about how we could have won the war if we’d only used A bombs. “A couple of atomic bombs,” he says, “could do the job.”  I did hear that said from time to time when I was in Vietnam, but most folks didn’t want it to happen. Or so they said.

Dieter Dengler after his release

Spoiler alert:  At the end of this little book we find out that it was all a dream. I was relieved.

If you are going to read only one novel or memoir about the Vietnam War, you’d do better to go elsewhere. The book did amuse, but I believe Dieter Dengler’s Escape from Laos would be a better place to start reading.

—David Willson

Hal Moore by Mike Guardia

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.

Mike Guardia

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.

—Marc Leepson