Editor's note: This is part two of two parts. The first part was published Sept. 16 and can be found at www.observertoday.com under In honor and memory.
Robert Mosher landed in Da Nang, South Vietnam, a major city that was about 80 miles south of the DMZ, a line that divided the two Vietnams. Here, orders sent him to Dong Ha, a small town that was the last town before the DMZ.
He was assigned to the radio tech area where his duties took him out on patrols and military operations. While at Dong Ha other duties involved riding convoys that supplied all Marine units at Alpha 3. Riding convoys to make sure radio communication was always ready was exciting but dangerous. Driving on Vietnam's Route 1 drew sniper fire along with many road mines.
Robert Mosher, U.S. Marine
Very seldom in 1967 did a convoy go without incident. Delivering the new codes at times demanded convoys with walking patrols. When Highway 1 was closed due to heavy sniper fire, excessive mines or heavy monsoon required delivering code by helicopter. For Mosher, taking helicopters was a common way of transportation. When conditions were good, choppers were the number one way to get from one place to the other.
Robert recalls each base had two or three helicopter pads which could rotate daily or even hourly depending on enemy incoming. Each helicopter pad would have a Marine working it let others know when its coming in and where and how many it can fit to its next destination. On calm days choppers ran like a normal bus schedule does in a normal city.
Mosher was then attached to 1-4, a Marine infantry unit whose main duties were to run search and destroy patrols along the DMZ. Each man received a rest and recuperation for each 13-month tour of duty. Mosher declined his and actually extended his tour. Instead of going to Hawaii, Australia, Hong Kong and Bangkok, he decided to take his 30-day leave and come back home. Coming home to Mosher seemed as though he had never left. The only thing he can recall about his 30 day leave was that it was the fastest 30 days of his life. It seemed as if it was only a day.
Returning to Vietnam was the same at first, but there were some of the new faces. The guys he came with before were now gone or rotated and new duties meant repairs to all rear areas. Patrols were now an everyday item. While in a bunker near Dong Ha, he was the first to be wounded by shrapnel from an enemy mortar. With internal wounds, he was evacuated by helicopter to the Dong Ha battalion aid station, which was similar to an Army MASH unit. While the chopper took off with Robert strapped in, a loud noise erupted along with Robert being hit a second time. The chopper safely made it to Dong Ha and Mosher was given medical attention. When stable, the doctors had Mosher flown out to the USS Sanctuary, a military hospital ship which sailed only five miles out in the South China Sea. Recovery from the shrapnel wounds took three months.
Returning to his unit brought more medical problems, including malaria. Coming down with malaria sent Robert back out to the sanctuary.
While filling in the last day on his short-timers calendar saw Robert holding orders for Quantico, a place where Marines train their officers. At Quantico, he received the rank of staff sergeant, pay grade E-6. Duty here involved traveling to all units and making sure their communications were at 100 percent combat readiness.
With his next enlistment ending, Mosher wanted to return to school and requested a 60-day deferment and attended classes at Fredonia State. Going to school was not easy. He also needed another job to make ends meet. Robert landed a job with Ford as a laborer in the materials handling department.
The next four years meant school and work, which landed him a management job in the tool and die scheduling for the next 32 years
After retirement, he started the BLN Co., which sells stainless steel straps at car shows and flea markets. When not on the road, Mosher restores old engines, transmissions and does complete chassis restoration. Some projects take months to complete. Along with attending as many antique car shows, he also enjoys seeing as many tractor pulls.
Mosher also is active in the VFW Post 6390. The new post took three years in the planning and the group broke ground for the facility in 2007. A post that is state of the art which came together not only with donations of money, it also was constructed with a lot of help by its members.
The 10,000-square-foot post which makes any veteran proud not only to be a member, but a post you could be honored to take your friend or a guest to.
The post will host the New York State Convention next year. Five hundred members will put on their best when all those members from the entire state will attend.
He is there every day an hour before opening to make sure the post is in top shape. Being active, he holds the title of general manger, adjutant and at one time was the post commander.
Another local hero who went, did his job, returned and went on with his life. Doing Mosher's story brings back so many memories for me. I walked in his shoes and can relate to the Marine Corps. How it trained, the country of Vietnam, its people and its customs. When I returned from Vietnam, it was best to not even say you were there.
Saying you were a Marine made you a baby killer. Some people wouldn't look at you, yet others wanted to know how many you killed. Your generation, those your age, called you a killer. Those my father's age called us veterans.
Young people want to serve their country. They join and do what they are told. For some, the job given is a job that is created to take one's life. Yes there are jobs in our military that are designed for one thing - taking your enemy's life.
Robert Mosher is a local hero who went a little further then others. He did his job and did it well. He went to Vietnam and did what the Marine Corps wanted of him. For those 13 plus months, he had no control of what could happen to his life. There was really no safe place when even in a bunker, one's life could be taken. He went to a war. He came home and was told it was OK.
Thank you Robert Mosher for your service. Thank you for your dedication to your post and its members. Welcome home. Semper Fi.