100 Year Connection to Fort Benning

Louis Compton
Compton was initially commissioned into the Cavalry

The relationship of Hal and Julie Moore with Fort Benning actually starts in 1921 when Julie Moore’s father, Louis Compton, was stationed with the ROTC detachment at the Auburn Polytechnic Institute in nearby Auburn Alabama. Compton was initially commissioned into the Cavalry and transferred to the Field Artillery during World War I where he served in France with Battery B of the 80th Field Artillery.

The family lived in Auburn from 1921 to 1925. As a result of the duty with the ROTC detachment, the Compton family undoubtedly frequently visited the newly named Fort Benning to avail themselves of the limited services as well as support the training of the ROTC detachment. While at Auburn, he led the training for the field artillery section to include summer exercises at various Army bases throughout the South.

Their experience living in the Fort Benning area as well as Julie’s marriage to an infantryman motivated the Comptons to retire to Auburn in 1951. Upon their deaths, Julie inherited the home and it remains in the family to this day. The Comptons are buried a few rows over from Hal and Julie in the Fort Benning Cemetery.

Of course, as an infantryman, Hal Moore attended basic training at Fort Benning upon graduation from West Point in 1945 (appointed to USMA from the 2nd Congressional District of Georgia). He returned to Fort Benning for the officer advanced course in September 1951. Upon receipt of orders to deploy to the Korean War, Julie elected to stay in the Columbus area. She wrote:

Julie and 2 babies during Hal's Korean War deployment
Julie and 2 babies during Hal’s Korean War deployment

Toward the end of the school year Hal received the orders I had been dreading – Korean War! I was highly pregnant with Steve (born at the Fort Benning hospital) and he refused to come on time. The doctors made me drink cod liver oil in hopes of speeding him up but he finally arrived on May 4 and Hal left for Korea six weeks later in June.

I was 23 years old. I stayed in the high heat and humidity of Columbus, Ga in a tiny tract house with no air conditioning for another 3 months by myself as my parents hadn’t found a place to live yet. I planned to move in with them in Auburn, AL. It was so awful though as there was NO NEWS of what was going on during that war. Sometimes I would find a paragraph or two on the back page of the Opelika-Auburn Daily News paper.

If there was a big fight like Pork Chop Hill the Atlanta paper might mention it. Sometimes I think I was better off not knowing compared to the intensive coverage of Vietnam. Course we didn’t have TV then either. Hal sent me a telegram wishing us all a Merry Christmas which I found in the mailbox. I thought it was bad news and refused to open it so Dad had to do it. You can imagine the relief. I told him never to send me another telegram, and have always “frozen” when I see one so the debacle of the telegrams from X-Ray paralyzed me.”

Hal Moore as Battalion Commander

Upon receipt of orders to command the 2nd Battalion 23rd infantry, the Moore family returned to Fort Benning in June, 1964. The Army provided housing on Austin Loop, and the family lived there until the deployment of the 1st Cavalry Division to Vietnam in 1965. Given 30 days to move off post, Julie scrambled to find available housing. She wrote:

When we received the news from President Johnson in late July of ’65 that the 1st Cav would go to Vietnam there was a flurry of activity among the wives to get the men packed up. At that time the Army had no camouflage insignia or underwear, so our great concern was dying their underwear (two forest green to one black was the standard formula we came down on – I know the Chattahoochee river ran green for months) – inking out the white name tag and the gold U.S. Army on their fatigue shirts.

Home in Columbus
Julie lived in this three bedroom home during Hal’s Vietnam deployment.

We were told we had 30 days to get out of the Army quarters on the Post so there was a great scramble to find a place to live outside the gate in the little town of Columbus. 438 wives settled in the area. Dad wanted me to come to Auburn (40 miles from Columbus, GA.) and I felt that I owed him a year with his grandchildren so looked over there but nothing that we could fit into for rent and only a $30,000 house to buy which was way too expensive.

I found a dinky house in an area of Columbus that a lot of wives had settled in, close to the Post. The 3 younger children (3-11 years old) had the largest bedroom – poor Dave slept on a cot which we put up every night and took down every morning – Greg and Steve (13 and 12) shared a room and I had the smallest room – could only get out of bed on one side!

In 1983, Hal and Julie inherited the family home in Auburn, Alabama. They elected to adopt a migratory lifestyle in between 1983 and 2004, residing between Colorado and Alabama. Following Julie’s death in 2004, Hal became a permanent resident of Auburn. Throughout his retired life, Hal established relationships with instructors at Fort Benning and gave frequent professional development seminars on leadership and warfighting; directly influencing several generations of Army leaders.

Hal and Julie loved Fort Benning and are buried at the Post Cemetery.

Hal and Julie’s two sons, Steve and Dave, both followed their father into the military. Steve elected to join the Field Artillery and attended airborne school as well as the Infantry Officer Advanced Course at Fort Benning as an “exchange” officer. Dave was commissioned into the Infantry and attended Ranger, airborne, officer basic and advanced at Fort Benning. Following his retirement from the Army, he elected to retire to Auburn and currently works at Fort Benning.

Family’s Armor Connection to Fort Benning

Julie’s uncle was COL Stephen Boon.

He was commissioned into the Cavalry in 1917 and fought with the 32nd Division in World War I. During his service he was awarded the French Croix de Guerre and three American citations for valor, including the Silver Star.

Following the war, he was assigned to the 13th Cavalry and appointed as a member to the Cavalry Board. He was also an instructor at the Cavalry School in Fort Riley, KS.

One of his interesting assignments was to serve with the War Mother’s Pilgrimage as an escort officer in 1932. This program provided eligible mothers the opportunity to visit the graves of their husbands and sons in Europe at Government expense.

Julie visits her uncle at Fort Knox

According to the citation for Boon’s Legion of Merit awarded in November 1945, he helped organize the Armored Force School at Fort Knox in 1940. He was the founder and first director of the motorcycle department and was head of the wheeled vehicle and training literature departments.

Getting the Armored Force School off the ground required innovative approaches. The Lexington Herald reported Boon was coordinating to obtain the trade school facilities at the Lafayette high school to train diesel and gasoline engine mechanics. The school would provide slots for 20 soldiers and Boon continued to look for additional places where soldiers could train to meet the requirements of the two new Armored Divisions.

After commanding the 43rd Regiment in the 12th Division in 1942, he returned to Fort Knox to assume duties as the Assistant Commandant of the School; reporting to BG Robinett.

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