the journalist who became a war hero

By Joe Hight, 2013 Inductee

William Russell Moore was a war correspondent who became a war hero. 

Although the Oklahoma native is listed in some historical texts, he was unknown to most in his home state until Paul Roales sent an email to the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame. Roales said he was a military historian who had researched Moore, born March 25, 1910 in Nowata.  

“I think he should be in the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame,” Roales wrote. 

Moore’s name will join the Hall of Fame in 2020 as part of the second posthumous class inducted into the Hall of Fame’s 50-year history. 

Here’s an edited excerpt of the story that Roales tells about Moore:

After receiving a bachelor’s degree from the University of Oklahoma in 1932, Moore worked for The Daily Oklahoman until 1937 when he was first hired by The Associated Press in Denver. 

Five years later in September 1942, he was commissioned as second lieutenant upon his graduation from the Anti-aircraft Artillery Officer Candidate School at Camp Davis. He served in the Army forces in the Pacific during World War II from 1942-1946 and was discharged with the rank of major after serving in Korea. He rejoined The Associated Press in New York, and in April 1948 was sent to Korea as a staff correspondent.  

Moore’s dispatches told graphically of the growing tension between [the] north and south. When the North Korean invasion finally broke on June 25, he was in Hong Kong on vacation. Immediately he volunteered to fly back to Korea. He was one of the first reporters to reach the front lines in was the first report the atrocity of captured Americans who had been shot with their hands tied behind their backs. He died on July 31, 1950, while helping U.S. soldiers hit by North Korean gunfire. His body was found five years later. 

Roales also found a story dated October 30, 1950, in the Greeley (Colorado) Daily Tribune that included an officer’s description of the man he met over a cup of coffee. 

“Nice fellow. Real friendly and a real storyteller,” Captain Carl M. Anderson said. “When the shells were falling around us I heard him praying ou[t] loud.” 

The paper also reported that “Moore’s cool, level-headed quality of thinking ahead… made his dispatches stand out.” 

Moore, who was unmarried when he died at 40, is enshrined with the nearly 2,350 journalists killed worldwide in the Newseum’s Journalists Memorial. 

Because of Roales, he now will be forever remembered in the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame.