WebWarrior: LZ X-Ray
1. What was the thing that got you interested in military history? What’s the story behind it?
My father (Hal Moore – Infantry) and grandfather (Louis Compton – Field Artillery) both served in the Army for a full career. I followed them intothe Army (Field Artillery) and also served 20 years. My brother just hit his 20 years and remains on active duty (Infantry). Part of professional development is to do the reading and study to learn from the successes or failures of others.
2. What, if any, computer training/experience did you have prior to starting your own site? What did you learn before starting it? What have you learned since?
I was introduced to the personal computer when I was attending a masters program in Industrial Engineering at UC Berkeley in 1983. As a result of limited time on the mainframe, they introduced the PC to us and we had to use it to solve a number of different engineering/optimization problems. That’s were I first learned to program in an arcane language called "APL". Realizing this was not really portable, I learned Turbo Pascal and wrote many applications using that language.
While in the Army, I was assigned to various jobs where I had to leverage computer and analytical skills – I was a combat simulation modeler and later became the product manager of a large command and control system – the Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System – the replacement to the Army’s TACFIRE system.
I started this site in 1996 using some very basic editing tools. The coverage of the topic – the Ia Drang battles – is fairly static, so the site is pretty much brochureware that expands on the visual content that did not make it into the book "We Were Soldiers Once and Young". Given the limited additional content beyond what was researched for the book, and the fact that I have a full time job elsewhere, it has not evolved.
Key thing I have learned since starting the site is that tools make technology easy – the challenge is getting the time to apply that advantage.
3. How did you come to bring your military history and computer interests together?
My father, Hal Moore, was one of the authors of the book the site supports – We Were Soldiers Once and Young. We felt this was an additional way to honor the veterans of the battle – they needed a site that they could point people to that documented this horrifyingly brutal engagement. Dad and Joe have funded the site out of their own pockets for the last 8 years – this is not a money making venture.
4. What training/experience in military history do you have?
None other than the academic exposure I received while attending West Point.
5. Has anyone helped you to build your site? In what ways, if so?
When the Mel Gibson movie based on the book (We Were Soldiers) was about to come out, Joe Galloway talked Military.com into providing some assistance. They made over the home page for me – vastly improving its look. I really appreciate their help – and that is what motivates me to redo the entire site – just need to find the time.
In the early days, the hosting provider, UnixCity.com, also provided guidance and help – nobody really was an expert in HTML back in 1996. UnixCity has been a super hosting provider – they have not raised the rates on hosting for years – even when the usage spiked as the movie came out. I believe they also want to give back to recognize the contribution of the Vietnam veteran and allow the site to have all the bandwidth it needs to get the message out.
6. Where do you live? Are there any military historical sites nearby (battlefields, museums, etc)?
I recently moved back to Northern Virginia – this area is replete with historical significance.
7. Why do you study military history?
I would not claim to study military history – I browse various topics of interest as time permits. I would hate to have to stand next to a real military historian on Jeopardy.
8. In what specific ways does the computer help you with your study of military history? Does your site strive to be that help to others interested in military history?
Google is a tremendous tool to do research – recently, I wanted to find out the history of "Auftragstaktik" (mission orders) and Google instantly delivered a number of very well written articles covering this topic.
My site is very focused on the Ia Drang battles. For those people who do not read the book, or who want to see the pictures and video that could not be in the book, it is a place to visit and gain an appreciation of the horror both sides on that battle experienced. The actual after action report is available for viewing – an amazing document that was first released on a US Army site. I also have some of the documents prepared by the North Vietnamese discussing the battle, but I can’t put them up as a result of copyright concerns. Ditto for the actual network news footage that was seen on ABC, NBC, and CBS during the week of November 14, 1965. The footage is available from the National Archives.
An amazing fact is that the Dept of Defense filmed all the news coverage of the Vietnam war by putting a movie camera in front of the TV every night of the war – VCRs were not invented until much later.
9. What are some stats about your website? (How many hits per day do you get, how many people do you have writing articles there, how many people are active in your message board, what specific topic of military history do most people seem to be interested in)?
I am the only contributor to the site, we do not have a message board or any advanced features. The site is a labor of love that I do as a hobby. We hit peak the month the movie was released: 3,541,470 hits, 121,739,411,943 bytes of download, 101,835 visits producing 1,100,918 page views.
In a normal month, we get much less than that! Average traffic is: 450,000 hits, 20GB of download, 18,000 visits producing around 140,000 page views.
10. What work are you currently doing in your site (military historical and/or computerly)?
What do you hope to bring to your site in the future? Basically, I would like to find the time to update it. Once you get beyond the home page, you are at pages whose design has not changed since 1996.
Stay Alert, Stay Alive!
Jim H. Moreno
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