Some of the greatest accomplishments in Lt. Col. Richard Moore’s life have not been commemorated with bronze plaques or Hall of Fame inductions.
Moore, 83, has been married for 60 years to the former Betty Jones, who he first met when he was 12 and she was 11 in Savannah. They were wed on June 13, 1953, the same day Moore graduated from The Citadel and accepted his Army commission.
He survived five tours of duty in Vietnam from 1962-73 and eventually retired from the Army after 28 years of service in 1981.
He taught social studies and coached various teams from softball to debate for 25 years at Edmund Burke Academy in Waynesboro, Ga. His girls won a Georgia Independent School Association Class AA state softball title in 1986.
That’s a pretty remarkable life ledger right there.
In November, however, Lt. Col. Moore received an honor he hadn’t expected. The Citadel inducted him into the school’s Athletics Hall of Fame for doing something no other cadet has ever done – coach a Bulldog team to a national championship. His rifle teams from 1959-62 went undefeated in shoulder-to-shoulder competition and still claim the status as the “winningest” program in The Citadel’s history.
That bit of trivia will win you a bet at any bar in Charleston, S.C.
“It was emotional, of course,” said Betty Moore of the Nov. 15 Hall of Fame induction and plaque presentation that caught her husband by surprise. “He was almost speechless, really.”
“It was wonderful,” Moore said of becoming one of 178 Hall of Fame members at The Citadel. “One of the things I’m proudest of are two plaques they’ve placed on the walls in the rifle range.”
The Daniel K. Inouye Hall Marksmanship Center opened in 2005 and is one of the most sophisticated in the country, and it traces its heritage back to Moore’s landmark program.
Moore was on active duty in the Army in 1958 when he was assigned to his alma mater as an ROTC professor of military science and Tactical Officer for F-Company. School president, Gen. Mark Clark, also appointed Moore as coach of the rifle team with only one instruction.
“Win,” Gen. Clark told him.
Moore’s teams never lost in 3½ years at the helm, regularly defeating teams from Army, Navy and the Air Force. They won four South Carolina Intercollegiate Championships, three Southern Conference titles and three national titles – the William Randolph Hearst Army ROTC Championship, the Air Force ROTC Championship and the National Rifle Association Intercollegiate Championship. The latter was a precursor to the modern NCAA Championship.
Moore – who was an expert rifleman in the Army but never fired a shot competitively – said his coaching success was no real secret.
“What made the team good was I had good men,” he said of a roster that produced three All-Americans – another first in school history. “I had some who had been firing rifles since they where kids and others who had never fired a rifle before in their lives. What you do is teach them basic marksmanship and just practice.”
Moore’s rifle team set a standard of success that other Bulldogs programs soon followed. His 1959-60 team was the first in school history to win a Southern Conference championship, defeating traditional power West Virginia. That achievement was quickly followed by track, baseball, tennis and football in short order. The Citadel even played and won the 1960 Tangerine Bowl.
But no Citadel team before or since could match his Bulldogs on the national stage. The closest they’ve ever come to another national title in any other sport was when the 1990 baseball team reached the College World Series shortly after Hurricane Hugo devastated Charleston.
Moore’s reign at The Citadel ended in 1962 when he was sent to Vietnam. After his first tour, he was stationed at Fort Gordon from 1965-67. He returned in 1976 and has lived in south Augusta ever since.
After retiring from the military in 1981, Moore took up teaching at the private school in Waynesboro. In addition to his five social studies, history classes and homeroom, he coached softball, track, debate, model United Nations and one year of JV football before retiring in 2006.
But it was those rifle teams that got him immortalized at The Citadel as current incarnations of the Bulldogs try to live up to the example he and his marksmen set more than half a century before.
“We’ve had a lot of camaraderie since I was coach with several reunions through the years,” Moore said. “We’ve been getting together almost since I returned from Vietnam.”
Those team members surprised their coach by dedicating the plaque that hangs in Inouye Center to “acknowledge his proven success as a builder of athletes, a mentor to youth and developer of champions.”