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Thomas Hinman Moorer
Admiral Thomas H. Moorer, U.S. Navy
Born (1912-02-09)February 9, 1912
Died February 5, 2004(2004-02-05) (aged 91)
Place of birth Mount Willing, Alabama, U.S.
Place of death Bethesda, Maryland, U.S.
Buried at Arlington National Cemetery
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Navy
Years of service 1933–1974
Rank US-O10 insignia.svg Admiral
Commands held Chief of Naval Operations
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Battles/wars World War II
Vietnam War
Awards Defense Distinguished Service Medal (2)
Navy Distinguished Service Medal (5)
Silver Star
Legion of Merit
Distinguished Flying Cross
Purple Heart
Gray Eagle Award

Thomas Hinman Moorer (February 9, 1912 – February 5, 2004) was an admiral and naval aviator in the United States Navy who served as Chief of Naval Operations from 1967 to 1970, and as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1970 to 1974.

External audio
You may watch an interview with Thomas Moorer about his experiences serving during the Vietnam War here.

Early life and education

Moorer was born in Mount Willing, Alabama on February 9, 1912. His father, a dentist, named his son for his favorite professor at Atlanta-Southern Dental College, Dr. Thomas Hinman. Moorer was raised in Eufaula, Alabama.


Moorer graduated from the United States Naval Academy on June 1, 1933, and was commissioned an ensign.[1] After completing Naval Aviation training at the Pensacola Naval Air Station in 1936, he flew with fighter squadrons based on the aircraft carriers USS Langley, USS Lexington and USS Enterprise.

World War II

In addition to his fighter experience, Moorer also qualified in seaplanes and flew with a patrol squadron in the early years of World War II. Serving with Patrol Squadron Twenty-Two at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, when the Japanese Empire attacked on December 7, 1941, his squadron subsequently participated in the 1941-42 Dutch East Indies Campaign in the southwest Pacific, where he flew numerous combat missions. Moorer received a Purple Heart after being shot down and wounded off the coast of Australia in February 1942 and then surviving an attack on the rescue ship, which was sunk by enemy action the same day. Moorer also received the Distinguished Flying Cross for his valor three months later when he braved Japanese air superiority to fly supplies into, and evacuate wounded out of. the island of Timor.[1]

Vietnam War

Promoted to vice admiral to 1962, and to admiral in 1964, Moorer served both as Commander-in-Chief of the Pacific Fleet and Commander-in-Chief of the Atlantic Fleet—the first Navy officer to have commanded both fleets. Moorer was Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet at the time of the Gulf of Tonkin incident and ordered an internal investigation into the conflicting reports which emerged following the event.[2]

Moorer served as the Chief of Naval Operations between 1967 and 1970, at the height of U.S. involvement in Vietnam and worked closely with the most senior officers in the U.S. Military and Government.[3] He also served as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1970 until 1974.

Moorer personally mastermined the 1972 mining of Hai Phong Harbor and believed that such an operation if such an operation had been conducted in 1964 it would have "made a significant difference in the outcome of the war."[4]

Attack on the USS Liberty

Moorer believed that the attack on the USS Liberty in 1967 was a deliberate act on the part of the Israelis and that President Lyndon B. Johnson ordered the cover-up to maintain ties with Israel.[5][6]

Moorer stated that "Israel attempted to prevent the Liberty's radio operators from sending a call for help by jamming American emergency radio channels.[And that] Israeli torpedo boats machine-gunned lifeboats at close range that had been lowered to rescue the most-seriously wounded." Moorer stated that there had been a conspiracy to cover up the event and asked whether "our government put Israel's interests ahead of our own? If so, Why? Does our government continue to subordinate American interests to Israeli interests?"[6]


Moorer died on February 5, 2004, at the U.S. Naval Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland at the age of 91. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.


The National Guard Armory (Fort Thomas H. Moorer Armory) in Fort Deposit, Alabama is named after Moorer, as is a middle school in Eufaula, Alabama.

Awards and decorations

U.S. military personal decorations, unit awards, campaign awards

Senior U.S. Navy commanders pose around an illuminated globe in 1968: Admirals John J. Hyland, John S. McCain, Jr., Chief of Naval Operations Moorer, and Ephraim P. Holmes.

Bronze oak leaf cluster
Defense Distinguished Service Medal with Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster
Gold star
Gold star
Gold star
Gold star
Navy Distinguished Service Medal with four Gold Award stars
Silver Star ribbon.svg Silver Star
Legion of Merit ribbon.svg Legion of Merit
Distinguished Flying Cross ribbon.svg Distinguished Flying Cross
Purple Heart BAR.svg Purple Heart
US Navy Presidential Unit Citation Ribbon.png Presidential Unit Citation
American Defense Service ribbon.svg American Defense Service Medal with A Device
American Campaign Medal ribbon.svg American Campaign Medal
Bronze star
Bronze star
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with two stars
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign ribbon.svg European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal
World War II Victory Medal ribbon.svg World War II Victory Medal
Navy Occupation Service Medal with Europe and Asia Clasps
China Service Medal ribbon.svg China Service Medal
Bronze star
National Defense Service Medal with bronze star
AFEMRib.svg Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
Vietnam Service Ribbon.svg Vietnam Service Medal
Philippine Defense ribbon.png Philippine Defense Medal
Vietnam Campaign Medal ribbon.png Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal with 1960- device.

Foreign personal decorations

He also has been decorated by thirteen foreign governments:

Civilian awards

  • Stephen Decatur Award for Operational Competence by the Navy League of the United States (May 1964)
  • Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree awarded by Auburn University (1968)
  • General William Mitchell Award, Wings Club of New York City (February 1968)
  • Member, Alabama Academy of Honor (August 1969)
  • Honorary Doctor of Humanities Degree awarded by Samford University (May 1970)
  • Frank M. Hawks Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Development of Aviation by the American Legion Air Service Post 501, New York City (January 1971)
  • The Gray Eagle Award presented at the Washington Navy Yard (June 29, 1972)
  • The Lone Sailor Award by the U. S. Navy Memorial Foundation (1989)
  • The National Football Foundation Gold Medal (1990)



  1. 1.0 1.1 "Admiral Thomas Hinman Moorer, USN (Ret.)". Naval History & Heritage Command. Retrieved September 18, 2012. 
  2. Interview with Thomas H. Moorer, 1981, WGBH,, "I directed a full investigation to be conducted by ah, ah, Vice Admiral Roy Johnson, who at that time was ah, ah, Commander of the Seventh Fleet who was directly ah, in control of this particular operation.And of course, as I expected, he ah, found that none of these allegations that were ah, published ah, frequently in the paper, and ah, were thrown about on the halls of Congress ah, were true."
  3. Interview with Thomas H. Moorer, 1981, WGBH,
  4. Interview with Thomas H. Moorer, 1981, WGBH,, "It's only too bad we did not ah, get permission as the military commanders tried to do over and over to ah, mine that harbor ah, ah, in 1964. Because that would have made a significant difference in the outcome of the war."
  5. "Ex-Navy Official: 1967 Israeli Attack on U.S. Ship Was Deliberate". 2003-10-23.,2933,100960,00.html. Retrieved 2008-11-16. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 Thomas Moorer (11 January 2004). "Betrayal behind Israeli attack on U.S. ship". 
  7. Portuguese President's website

External links