February 5, 2004 by

Thomas H. Moorer

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Categories: Military

tmoorer.jpgAdm. Thomas H. Moorer, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the Vietnam War, died on Feb. 5. Cause of death was not released. He was 91.
The Alabama native played football for three years at the U.S. Naval Academy before receiving his commission as an ensign in 1933. A naval aviator, Moorer piloted fighter planes off the first American aircraft carriers. He was stationed at Pearl Harbor when Japan attacked on Dec. 7, 1941.
Four months later, Moorer participated in the Dutch East Indies campaign in the Southwest Pacific. He was flying a PBY patrol plane over the waters north of Darwin, Australia, when it was shot down by Japanese aircraft. He and his co-pilot crash-landed into the water and were rescued by a ship that was sunk by the Japanese later the same day. For his service in World War II, Moorer received a Silver Star for gallantry, a Purple Heart and a Distinguished Flying Cross.
The straight-talking combat veteran spent the next 20 years working his way up the ranks. During this period of his life, he commanded the Navy’s Seventh Fleet, the Pacific Fleet, NATO’s Allied Command – Atlantic and the U.S. Atlantic Fleet. In 1967, he was awarded the Gold Star and appointed by President Lyndon B. Johnson to serve as chief of naval operations. Moorer was reappointed two years later by President Richard M. Nixon, and promoted to chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. As the military’s senior uniformed officer, he was in charge of supervising the U.S. troop withdrawal from South Vietnam.
After the 41 years of service, Moorer retired from active duty in 1974. He became an outspoken military expert who made numerous appearances in the media. A middle school in Eufaula, Ala., is named in his honor.

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