On 14 November 1965, some 450 men of the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry, under the command of Lt. Col. Hal Moore, were dropped by helicopter in the Ia Drang Valley. They were immediately surrounded by ±2,000 North Vietnamese soldiers. It was the first full-fledged battle between U.S. and North Vietnamese soldiers.
Later Lt. Col. Hal Moore wrote:
“Senior Lieutenant Colonel Nguyen Huu An, of the People’s Army of Vietnam, and I were doing our best to kill each other. We’d been at it for 2 hours in the miserably hot, humid scrub jungle fringing a football field-sized clearing in the remote Ia Drang Valley of South Vietnam. He was commanding well-trained, well-armed soldiers of the 66th North Vietnamese Regiment. I was a Lieutenant Colonel, an infantry paratrooper commanding a 450-man Air Assault Infantry Battalion. The problem for me, at that moment, was that I’d only been able to bring in about 250 of my men. I had sixteen Huey helicopters and it was a 20-minute round trip from the pick-up/loading areas. Lt. Col. An was attacking with upwards of 1,800 very aggressive soldiers fiercely determined to kill us all. I was suffering heavy casualties, both killed and wounded, among my troopers. We were in a struggle for survival in the first major battle between US Army and North Vietnamese regulars.”
You might not be into militaty history (or even a keen fan of the military itself) but one has to admit that it takes an exceptional leader to inspire men to lay down their lives for a cause. We can certainly learn from these leaders.
Outnumbered and outgunned, Col Hal Moore and his men fought their way through the enemy. Moore led from the front. A fierce battle ensued for the following couple of days. Although 79 U.S. soldiers died, the small unit fought with such bravery that the Communists had to withdrew. By 16 November 1965, enemy casualties amounted to 1200.
This was not Lt. Col. Hal Moore’s first battle – nor was it his last. By the end of his career he was a highly decorated military officer. But even more important than the medals that he won, was the respect his men had for him. Lt. Col. Hal Moore was a phenomenal leader.
Military author Mike Guardia compiled Lt. Col Moore’s wisdom on leadership in the book: “Hal Moor on leadership. Winning when outgunned and outmanned”. I recently read this book and thoroughly enjoyed it.
Numerous fascinating battle stories are recounted in the pages of the book. Within these stories, valuable leadership lessons are to be found. So, this the book is not only intended for people in a military context, but for any leader who is tasked with the responsibility of leading other people.
I found myself being inspired by Hal Moore’s bravery, to be a braver leader myself. There are too many gems in the book to name them all. That’s why I thought I would start by only giving you ten: Continue Reading…