OG Honors LTG Moore and Plans 300,000th Package
posted on Dec 07 2007 0 Comments
Van Nuys, CA-Operation Gratitude presented the first annual NATIONAL FREEDOM AWARD to retired U.S. Army Lieutenant General Hal Moore at the National Guard Armory in Van Nuys, California on December 1, 2007. Joined by We Were Soldiers Once and Young co-author Joe Galloway and the movie adaptation’s director Randy Wallace, hundreds of Military personnel and volunteers gathered to pay tribute to the General’s renowned career. Several Cavalry Veterans who served under Moore’s command surprised the General, and arrived wearing their revered Stetsons, the hallmark of the Cavalry.
“This experience was a most moving and sincere gathering of Americans, drawn together out of deep love and respect for each other, for our troops and for our nation,” said Lt. General Moore. “I accepted the National Freedom Award on behalf of all those in harm’s way who ensure our continued freedom and to whom we pay great tribute.”
Serving as the ceremony’s distinguished speaker, Lt. General Moore deeply touched the crowd as he recounted his dramatic return to the scene of the 1965 Battle of Ia Drang in Vietnam. Eric Weider, publisher of the Armchair General and Operation Gratitude Magazines relayed part of General Moore’s moving speech in his online forum that night:
“General Moore became overcome with emotion and tears as he recalled visiting LZ Xray with Joe Galloway and others of his troopers in 1993.
At night he walked the perimeter and recalled the men in their foxholes and trenches…”Don’t worry Colonel they won’t get through us” he heard them say. Painfully, now in 1993, Moore knew which of those brave young men would be killed in the next morning’s assault by the North Vietnamese Army.
As Moore stood by the ant hill that marked his command post he vividly recalled the dead men laying under their ponchos with only their boots poking out…awaiting evacuation.
Lt. General Moore stood on that hallowed field for a minute of silence to remember all the dead of the conflict on both sides. At that moment, his opponent from the Ia Drang battle, Vietnamese Lt. General An, approached Moore and kissed him on both cheeks. Thirty years earlier they had been trying to kill each other.
That night a meteor shower of several hundred shooting stars went on for about 10 minutes. Moore and Galloway believe those stars were the souls of all those lost at Ia Drang.
They stayed the night at LZ-XRAY because a monsoon blew through and no helicopters could fly in to retrieve them. The next morning, the Vietnamese Army was sent in to rescue them. Lt. General Moore exclaimed it was quite a jarring sight to see 150 Vietnamese Soldiers in their brown uniforms carrying AK47s emerge from the jungle. But this time it was to save, not kill them!”
Throughout the day, General Moore met and spoke with hundreds of soldiers, Marines, airmen, and volunteers. One soldier’s response typified the sentiments of most attendees. “I read We Were Soldiers in Boot Camp. I just couldn’t wait to meet Lt. General Moore.” While shaking hands, another soldier excitedly told the General, “I have read every history book that exists about you. I would serve under you any day!”
General Moore joined Operation Gratitude volunteers on the Assembly Line as they continued their Holiday Drive to ship 70,000 care packages by year-end to troops deployed in combat zones. “I will be forever moved by the greatness of Americans,” states Moore. “It was very uplifting to stand shoulder to shoulder with more than 800 volunteers to assemble care packages for our troops. For all the ugliness that comes at times, there are great examples of genuine goodness – and Operation Gratitude is that many times over.”
A special gift was included in every care package this year-General Moore’s new book,A General’s Spiritual Journey, a compelling treatise describing his spiritual journey from childhood to his golden years. Moore also autographed copies of the “Journey” for the volunteers to take home.
“This day changed my life,” said one volunteer. “I am so inspired to do whatever I can to show my admiration and respect to the members of our military.”
Marine Staff Sergeant Scott Richardson, who has served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, flew in from Michigan for the opportunity to meet General Moore. “While deployed, I received an Operation Gratitude gift box, as did many of the soldiers here today. Opening that box felt like I had a little piece of home with me out there in the desert,” Richardson stated. “After spending the day with Lt. General Moore and so many hundreds of energized volunteers, I am motivated to go back to Iraq or Afghanistan to do my part-again-to do whatever it takes to defend our freedom. These Americans are the reason I love serving my country,” he said.
On December 15, 2007, Operation Gratitude will celebrate another milestone: the shipment of it’s 300,000th care package since its inception! Several Military and political dignitaries, celebrities and corporate sponsors will be in attendance as the Volunteers assemble the 300,000th package and learn of the special gift to be included. The 200,000th and 250,000th packages contained the keys to new vehicles.
The excitement will begin at 9am when the Assembly Line starts production; the 300,000th package is expected to hit the line at about 11:30 a.m. A short Ceremony will take place at that time, followed by the mass Photo Op, a special lunch, product samples and fun activities provided by generous corporate sponsors.
All media and volunteers (ages 12 and older) are welcome to attend the Celebration at the: