MILITARY MATTERS: Fort Benning Hosts 57th Reunion for Vietnam War Veterans Who Fought Under LTG Hal Moore
FORT BENNING, Ga. (WTVM) - There was a special reunion in November for a band of brothers on the front lines of the Vietnam War, alongside a commander who’s about to have Fort Benning named after him, years after he passed way. We talked to the vets about the renaming and their famous battle in our “military matters” report.
“I’m an infantry officer, so this is the home of the infantry. I spent a lot of time here at Fort Benning,” Vietnam War veteran Walter Marm said.
Marm is a medal of honor recipient and was part of the 7th Cavalry Regiment who fought in the first bloody battle of the Vietnam War. The future namesake for what’s now Fort Benning, Lt. General Hal Moore led 400+ American soldiers in that Battle of Ia Drang Valley versus close to 3-thousand North Vietnamese in 1965.
Some of those veterans recently came to the National Infantry Museum for their 57th reunion, telling stories about those terrifying days.
“2 rounds hit my radio and I got a little shrapnel in the back of my head,” Vietnam War veteran Robert Hazen said.
That was 1 hour into the firefight in Vietnam. And these vets gave advice to basic trainees about to graduate.
“And remember, the guys next to you, he can save your life one day, or you could save his,” Vietnam War veteran Robert Hazen said about mentoring young soldiers.
Saving many lives at Ia Drang is only part of Moore’s 32 years in the Army. With bases named after Confederate Soldiers being renamed, it’s expected next year that Fort Benning will become Fort Moore, but not just for the hero portrayed by actor Mel Gibson in the movie “We Were Soldiers.”
Fort Benning is also being renamed, in part, for his wife Julia Moore whose work led to the Pentagon creating casualty notification teams and military survivor support networks.
Her husband commanded men in Vietnam like Martin Latige, who said the 3-star General didn’t care about rank.
“Sometimes we’d make the mistake and call him Colonel Moore...and say sorry General...he said it’s ok, we’re all Privates,” Vietnam War veteran Martin Latige said.
“I think naming it after General and Mrs. Moore is very, very special. This is their old stomping grounds. They’re both buried here at the Fort Benning cemetery,” Marm told us.
“She was a turn-of-the-century officer’s wife. She knew the compassion to share with women with husbands being killed and being notified by yellow cab,” Latige added.
The Last 100 Yards ramp at this museum features a scene from the Battle of Ia Drang Valley, haunting memory for these survivors.
“Humbling experience to be with the men I served with, from all the ranks and religions, some drafted, some volunteered,” Marm said.
For next year’s reunion, they could be coming to Fort Moore, what they call a fitting tribute for their leader.
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