portrait of Admiral Thomas Moorer

Tuesday, March 13, 1990“Reflections on Vietnam”
Thursday, March 15, 1990“Panama – What Really Happened”

Thomas Hinman Moorer was born in Mount Willing, Alabama, February 9, 1912, son of the late Dr. R. R. Moorer and the late Mrs. (Hulda Hill Hinson) Moorer. He graduated from Cloverdale High School in Montgomery, Alabama, Valedictorian of the Class of 1927, and on June 10, 1929, entered the U. S. Naval Academy. As a midshipman he played football for three years. He graduated and was commissioned an ensign on June 1, 1933, and through subsequent promotions attained the rank of rear admiral on August 1, 1958; vice admiral, on October 5, 1962 and admiral, on June 26, 1964.

After graduation in June 1933, he served six months on board the USS SALT LAKE CITY as a junior officer in the gunnery department. He assisted in fitting out the USS NEW ORLEANS at the Navy Yard, New York, and served in the cruiser’s gunnery and engineering departments from her commissioning on February 15, 1934, until he detached in June 1935. During the next year, he was a student at the Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Florida. After completing the flight training in July 1936, he was designated a Naval Aviator.

In August 1936 he was assigned to Fighting Squadron ONE- B, based briefly on the USS LANGLEY and later on the USS LEXINGTON. He was transferred in July 1937 to Fighting Squadron SIX, based on the USS ENTERPRISE, and continued duty with that squadron until August 1939. He then joined Patrol Squadron TWENTY-TWO, a unit of Fleet Air Wing TWO, and later Fleet Air Wing TEN, and was with that Squadron at Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii, when the Japanese attacked the Fleet there on December 7, 1941. His squadron was sent to the Southwest Pacific and during the Dutch East Indies Campaign, he was shot down in a PBY on February 19, 1942, north of Darwin, Australia. He was rescued by a ship which was sunk by enemy action the same day.

He was awarded the Purple Heart for wounds received February 19, 1942, and the Silver Star Medal for “extremely gallant and intrepid conduct as pilot of a Patrol Plane during and following an attack by enemy Japanese aircraft in the vicinity of Cape Diemen, February 19, 1942… ”

After his return to the United States in July 1942, he had temporary duty from August of that year to March of the next in the United Kingdom, as a mining observer for the Commander in Chief, U. S. Fleet. He then fitted out and assumed command of Bombing Squardron ONE HUNDRED THIRTY-TWO, operating in Cuba and Africa from its base at Key West, Florida, Boca Chica Air Base. Detached from that command, he served as gunnery and tactical officer on the staff of Commander Air Force, Atlantic, from March 1944 to July 1945.

He was awarded the Legion of Merit: “For meritorious conduct … as Force Gunnery and Tactical Officer on the Staff of Commander Air Force, Atlantic Fleet…”

From August 1945 until May 1946, he was assigned to the Strategic Bombing Survey-Japan of the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, engaged in the interrogation of Japanese officials. For two years thereafter, he served as executive officer of the Naval Aviation Ordnance Test Station, Chincoteague, Virginia. He next had duty afloat as operations officer of the USS MIDWAY (July 1948-July 1950).

Reporting in August 1950 to Inyokern, California, he served for a year as experimental officer of the Naval Ordnance Test Station. During the year following, he was a student at the Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island, and in August 1953, again reported for duty on the staff of Commander Air Force, Atlantic Fleet. In May 1955 he was ordered to the Navy Department to serve as aide to the Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Air) and in July 1956 was detached to sea duty as commanding officer aboard USS SALISBURY SOUND (AV-13).

On July 26, 1957 his selection for the rank of Rear Admiral was approved by the President and in October of the same year, he reported as Special Assistant, Strategic Plans Division, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Navy Department. From January 1, 1958 until July 1959, he was Assistant Chief of Naval Operations (War Gaming Matters), after which he commanded Carrier Division SIX. He returned to the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations in November 1960 and served as Director of the Long Range Objectives Group until October 1962 when he assumed command of the SEVENTH Fleet. For his service in this assignment he was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal. In June 1964 he became Commander in Chief of the Pacific Fleet. Admiral Moorer assumed command of NATO’s Allied Command, Atlantic, the U. S. Unified Atlantic Command, and the U. S. Atlantic Fleet on April 30, 1965.

On June 17, 1967, he was awarded a Gold Star in lieu of a second Distinguished Service Medal: “For exceptionally meritorious service as Commander in Chief Atlantic, Commander in Chief U. S. Atlantic Fleet, Commander in Chief Western Atlantic Area, and Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic…”

On June 3, 1967, he was named by President Johnson to succeed Admiral David L. McDonald, USN, as Chief of Naval Operations, Navy Department. Admiral Moorer became the eighteenth Chief of Naval Operations on August 1, 1967.

On January 13, 1969, he was awarded a Gold Star in lieu of a Third Award of the Distinguished Service Medal “For exceptionally meritorious service as Chief of Naval Operations from August 1967 to January 1969.”

He was reappointed Chief of Naval Operations by President Nixon on June 12, 1969. He was then nominated by President Nixon on April 14, 1970, to serve as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The Senate confirmed the appointment on June 17, 1970.

On July 1, 1970, he was awarded a Gold Star in lieu of a Fourth Award of the Distinguished Service Medal “for exceptionally meritorious service to the Government of the United States in a duty of great responsibility as the Chief of Naval Operations from August 1967 to July 1970.” The citation reflects his contributions to the modernization of the Navy’s ships and aircraft, to the United State’s future status as a world maritime power, to the security of the United States, and in support of United States foreign power and national strategy.

On July 2, 1970, Admiral Moorer assumed the office of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He was reappointed as Chairman of the J CS by President Nixon on June 20, 1972. This second appointment was confirmed by the Senate on June 30, 1972.
The Defense Distinguished Service Medal was presented by Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird on January 10, 1973 for “extraordinary meritorious and distinguished service to the Government of the United States in a position of unique responsibility as Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff from July 1970 through January 1973.” The accompanying citation notes, “Admiral Moorer has carried the heavy responsibilities of the country’s senior military officer with great distinction during a crucial period in the history of the United States.”

He has been relied upon extensively by the President, the National Security Council, and the Secretary of Defense for advice and counsel, which “has invariably been characterized by thoroughness, accuracy and wisdom.” Also cited are his contributions in the areas of negotiations related to the Strategic Arms Limitations, Mutual and Balanced Force Reductions, Incidents at Sea, and the effectiveness of the Joint Chiefs of Staff representing the Armed Forces of the U. S. in the national security decision making process.

On July 2, 1974, Admiral Moorer retired from active duty. At his retirement ceremony, a second Department of Defense Distinguished Service Medal was presented by Secretary of Defense James R. Schlesinger for extraordinary performance of duty and exceptional achievement as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from January 1973 to June 1974. In this citation the Secretary of Defense said, “I particularly note that Tom Moorer has always put his country’s interests before anything else, and it is this quality I recognize in presenting him the only oak leaf cluster ever given to the Defense Distinguished Service Medal.”

Subsequent to his retirement, Admiral Moorer has joined the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Washington, D. C., as Senior Advisor, and in addition has served on several commercial boards, such as Blount, Inc., Texaco, Inc., Fairchild Industries, Inc., USLICO and CACI. He has served as Chairman of the Board of the U. S. Naval Aviation Association and the U. S. Naval Aviation Museum. He has been enshrined in the National Aviation Hall of Fame, as well as the Naval Aviation Hall of Honor, the Military Hall of Fame and the Business Hall of Fame.

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