Delta, LtCol T.L. Moore (Ret)

LtCol T.L. Moore (Ret), 3rd from right, SOCOM Hall of Honor induction.
On Tuesday, October 20, 2020, 10:14:02 PM EDT, Thurman Mullins <> wrote:

Hill 119, January 20th, 1970


Thanks to your efforts and a lot of reading, I am now working with new information.

The daily classified Bn SitReps (normally drafted by Major J.M. Mattiace, S-3), contain the following information:

In SitRep #019-70 (for 19Jan70, the day before the explosion), GySgt Moore's WARCLOUD team were operating in the area of 985517, near OP DURHAM (which I presume to be Hill 119), at 987508. They observed a total of 20 VC and NVA at three Lon/Lats throughout the day. At 1725H they surprised 5 VC at 970522 (near DURHAM) resulting in 2 VC KIA, which they left there.

The following day (20Jan70) Gy Moore returned to Hill 119 with the BnCO (LtCol JJ Grace), and an S-3 Officer (presumably Major J.M. Mattiace). On the hill they were joined by 2dLt OVERTON (0110810 USMC, 2d Platoon commander and Delta Patrol Leader), SSgt 'Butch' Harvey, a few rifles and an unknown company grade officer from outside the unit, who had spent the night on the hill. I suspect he was perhaps a Division Intel officer or maybe even a spook, interested in viewing the enemy bodies and the firefight site.

About noon they moved together down 119 toward 146, over mined ground . When they reached the extent of their defensive perimeter, 2dLt OVERTON tripped one of his own SFDs, wounding himself and 3 other Marines (LtCol Grace in the chest, and all others in lower extremities).

On Hill 119, F/O Mark Bayuk heard the explosion and turned his scopes to the blast site, where he was able to see some of the action. He observed SSgt Butch Harvey in a defensive perimeter, weapon at the ready.

Moore applied first aid to the wounded men, raced up the hill and called for a MedEvac. That is recorded at 1255. The entry reads:

"6. Additional Comments:

(c). 201255H OP Durham VIC AT987508, MedEvac 3 USMC WIAs (1Emerg, 1Priority, 1Routine). FR SFD detonated outside perimeter wire. SFD believed to be M-26 grenade".

That day's SitRep (SitRep 020-70) was not drafted by Major Mattiace like they normally were, and the following day SitRep 021-70 was drafted by Captain D.C. McCaskill, his 2nd in charge. That suggests Maj Mattiace was hit in the lower extremities and hospitalized at least overnight. Lt Durham lost a foot and the unknown visiting officer was later seen on Hill 119 doctoring his own foot wound. The Bn Surgeon was Lt (USN) S.J. McCarthy but we don't know where the wounded men were treated. (Doc Mullins was busy getting laid in Sydney at the time, so he can't be blamed for any of this).

This incident caused several changes in the Bn personnel roster. Captain McCaskill temporarily took over S3 for Major Mattiace. XO Major T. Turner assumed command of battalion for a week, replacing LtCol JJ Grace (who never returned to duty). Captain Bluhm assumed duty as Turner's XO. 1stLt W.C. Gregson took over Captain McCaskill's S3a post. On 28Jan70 LtCol Drumwright assumed command of the Bn and most of the men returned to their own assignments. If anyone remembers it differently I would appreciate correction.

If I can locate and speak with Major Mattiace, Major T. Turner and SSgt Harvey, I can gather enough "new evidence" witness statements to meet the Awards Manual requirements. Even Captain D.C. McCaskill might have some input of value, having heard Major Mattiace's explanation of the event after he returned. If any of you men can put me in touch with those potential witnesses or give me their actual first and middle names, it would help immensely.

Special thanks to the Marine who provided the TTU link; they are most helpful. I recall your email had to do with 'flashbackOP' or similar, but you have somehow vanished from my messages without a trace. Typical Recon.

Thank you all,

PS: Under Drumwright, Gy Moore established and taught a Recon Indoctrination "bush school" for new-joins who had no Recon experience. Against his will, Moore was promoted to 2dLt (he had been selected for 1stSgt). Drumwright nominated him for the Navy Cross for this action but it was never received at FMFPac.

He served in all Force and division Recons during three combat tours in Nam and one with MACV-SOG. He left Recon after his 5th PH (once blown up on his birthday) and lateral-moved into MPs, retiring as PMO at CLNC after 32 years in the Corps. Much of his face was reconstructed by plastic surgery, so he never needed a shave and never aged. Even after leaving Recon he was occasionally snatched from his desk to accompany classified teams visiting Central America during the 1980s. I served with him when he was a captain, major and LtCol.Typically, years after Nam ended, he refused to speak about his experiences or operations. Colonel Drumwright however, then at HQMC, used to brag about Moore's ops when he called for him.

Terry Moore's years with Recon were the proudest of his life. Team mates often tracked him down and called him and visited him in retirement. In his final years, LtCol Moore was inducted into the USSOCOM Commando Hall of Honor beside Col John Ripley. Terry Moore was the best Marine I ever served with during my career. My wife and I drove over 1,000 miles to attend his funeral. I am highly motivated to see his heroism on 20Jan70 recognized as more than an 'achievement'.

From: Donald Streeter <>
Date: October 20, 2020 at 8:39:21 PM CDT
To: Thurman Mullins <>
Subject: Re: Hill 119, 20Jan 1970

Sorry Thurman I was medevacked out of Nam on January I was in the hospital all of December so I have no Idea what happens from December on.
Do you know Arnold gasper or Tommy Voils and Paul Lerma they were all there after I left,

On Tuesday, October 20, 2020, 08:20:57 PM EDT, Thurman Mullins <> wrote:

Hi Don,
Thought you might have been there or know of someone who was.

I was on R & R when this occurred. I met Frank by phone yesterday and told him I would try to help if I could. I spoke with Donnie Sheppard by phone today and he was not on the hill at the time. If any of you know of someone who was there , maybe even the Chopper crew, Frank would appreciate hearing from them. 
Doc T Mullins

From: Frank Thomas <>
Date: October 19, 2020 at 4:06:58 PM CDT
To: "" <>
Subject: Hill 119, 20Jan 1970
Thanks for today's phonecall, Doc. I learned a lot I needed to know.
Here is a list of people I hope to speak to regarding GySgt Terry Moore's heroism on Hill 119 on 20Jan70:
Lt Overton, or whoever was platoon commander of the OP; WIA
LtCol JJ Grace, Bn CO; WIA
Maj "Medalious" (or similar), Bn S-3 or G-3 OpsO; WIA
Unknown Captain, possibly a visiting G-2 IntelO; WIA
SSgt Butch Harvey, 2d Plt Sgt (witness)
Doctor Andres (Bn surgeon) (possible witness)
Mike Carver (Comm) (possible witness)
Ed Evans (possible witness)
This incident occurred when BnCO Grace, accompanied by OpsO "Medalious" (sp?), and Team Leader GySgt Terry Moore visited 119 in preparation for a future insertion. The lieutenant in charge of the OP led the team (accompanied by SSgt Butch Harvey and an unknown Captain [probably an IntelO] who had spent the night on the hill) down 119 into the saddle toward Hill 146. At the bottom of the perimeter the Lt tripped one of his own clays and fragged himself, the BnCO, and the IntelO.
Moore established a hasty perimeter and provided first aid to the wounded. Then, because they had no radio, ran up the steep mountain side over mined and boobytrapped ground to alert the OP what had happened and call in a double MediVac. F/O Cpl Mark Bayuk was on the hill, heard the explosion, and turned his glasses onto the site, witnessing some events. I am in contact with him.
Gy Moore then gathered better first aid gear, ran back down the mountain over the same dangerous ground, and applied more first aid to the wounded Marines. They all survived, altho two were medically retired.
As the Medevac arrived, the grass parted and Moore spied a 250lb aerial bomb set as a boobytrap. Realizing it would kill all personnel on the ground and destroy the MedEvac and accompanying gunship if the rotor wash detonated it, Moore arched his body over the trigger mechanism to shield it from the rotors. When the MedEvac departed, Moore disarmed the bomb.
Colonel JJ Grace had been MedEvac'd and "Wild Bill" Drumwight replaced him a few days later. In the interim Moore's heroism had been hastily written up for a Navy Achievement Medal. Drumwright signed off on the recommendation on his first day, not knowing the full details of the event, and Moore was awarded the NAM. When the truth was learned, Drumwright forwarded a recommendation for upgrade of Moore's NAM to the Lifesaving Medal and Navy Cross. 
That recommendation was never responded to, and is suspected to never have been received at FMFPac. Several post-retirement efforts to initiate reconsideration of this matter have failed to reach General Kelly.  I hold the original paperwork, with signatures, and hope to get Moore's award upgraded posthumously. I need to speak with all witnesses who remember this incident and recall GySgt Moore's actions that day. 
Thanks in advance for any help you can give me, or any names you can put me in touch with.
Semper Fi,
Frank Thomas

Thanks for any help you can muster. Tmrw, in the midst of the inauguration confusion, marks the 51th anniversary of this engagement.

Altho severely injured, none of the men received PHs because this was not a 'combat action'; Lt Overton tripped their own defensive device, so it was an 'accident'. Moore surely performed in outstanding fashion, by forming a hasty perimeter, applying aid to the wounded, and then racing up Hill #119 (and back down) over boobytrapped ground to report the injuries to Captain Brad Bluhm ("Delta" CO, in charge of the hill) and arranging for a MedEvac.
Those actions might have justified a Nav/MC Lifesaving Medal, a Bronze Star (without the "V") or at least a Navy Commendation. Instead he got a Navy Achievement Medal for it.

But what happened when Moore raced back down the hill with more first aid gear is what went completely unheralded.

After Moore applied further first aid to the wounded, the MedEvac (and a covering gunship) approached. Moore spotted an aerial bomb boobytrap in the tall grass being parted by the approaching rotor wash. Realizing the wind would probably trip the bomb and with no time to defuse it or warn everyone away, Moore knelt, arched his body over the trigger and ordered everyone back. He remained there, protecting the trigger from the rotor wash while the wounded Marines were loaded and extracted. After the birds left, Moore ordered everyone out of the area, then single handedly de-fused the enemy boobytrap. Had that aerial bomb detonated, it surely would have killed all the Marines at that site, and probably destroyed both helicopters and crewmen hovering overhead; at least 10 men and two birds.

The only commissioned officers who were actually present at this event were all wounded. 2dLt Overton was closest to the blast; he lost a foot, his opposite arm and suffered a partial lobotomy. He survived the event but was retired and has since died.
LtCol JJ Grace suffered a severe chest wound and never returned to duty; he was retired, became a catholic priest and retired from that; two years ago he was still alive (at age 92) but with severe dementia and under constant care for his every need. He was reportedly unable to recall any memories of any part of his life.
Major J.N. Mattiace (S-3) retired from the Corps but three years before I began searching for him, he killed his wife and shot himself to death in California.
Mattiace's Assist/Ops officer, Captain Donald Cameron McCaskill III, was slightly wounded, reportedly walked back up Hill 119 and, finding no corpsman there, was thought to have been seen self-treated his foot injury. He retired outside Brunswick GA but his phone is no longer active, and he did not respond to several months of my mail.

As BnXO, Major Tom Turner became Acting Bn CO when LtCol JJ Grace was MedEvac'd and was responsible for generating the Navy Achievement Medal for Gy Moore. As soon as Col "Wild Bill" Drumright assumed command, he signed-off a week's worth of backed-up paperwork filling his IN basket, which included Moore's Navy Achievement Medal. The award was approved and the medal was awarded. Tom Turner has since died.

When Col Drumright heard the whole story about Moore's heroic actions, he fired off a recommendation to PX Kelley to have Moore's Achievement Medal replaced with the Navy Cross. The recommendation was never responded to and it is unknown whether it ever reached Kelley. Both Kelley and Drumright have since died, but after they both retired and Drumright learned his Navy Cross recommendation had not been received, he sent a post-retirement request for reconsideration to Kelly. That letter was returned as undeliverable and I have custody of it today, containing the details I have related here. Gunny (LtCol) Moore died in 2018, when I learned the details of this story. I served with Terry Moore when he was a Captain, Major, and LtCol and consider him the finest Marine I ever personally knew.

So I need to locate and speak with any living eyewitness to that event. Sgt (or SSgt) "Butch" Harvey was probably the second-senior enlisted man present, but I have failed to locate him. I don't have his actual first name.

So far the best thing to have come from my 3 year effort is that I located Capt Brad Bluhm, who was delighted to learn the 1stRecon Bn Association even existed. I put him in touch with "Doc" Thurman Mullins. Brad has since joined your association and is reunited with a lot of his old Recon buddies.

Your President, Charlie Kershaw, has been most-helpful in my efforts, including helping me lay a commemorative brick for Terry Moore at the Recon Pad in Quantico's National Museum of the Marine Corps.

Thanks for whatever time and effort you might be able to lend me.


Email from Frank Thomas January 19th, 2021 9:33 pm