Editor's note: This is the first of two parts. The second part will be in the Sept. 23 edition.
Robert A. Mosher
Pay Grade, E -6, Staff NCO
Medals, awards - National Defense; Vietnam Service Medal; Vietnamese Campaign; Presidential Unit Citation; Combat Action Ribbon; Purple Heart, awarded twice, Conspicuous Service, state of New York; Cross of Gallantry, Republic of South Vietnam.
Expert M-14 Military Rifle, marksman 45-caliber military pistol.
Married - Aug. 7, 1971, to Linda (Ardell) In Binghamton.
Children - Aaron, Julie
Grandchildren - Bailey, Mike
Robert A. Mosher was born on Jan. 26, 1947 in Silver Creek, the son of Harland and Dolores (Watkins) Mosher. Robert grew up watching his father each day go to work as a semi-truck driver for the Ford Co. Other jobs Bob's father held included vehicle repairs along with emergency towing.
His mother's job was a bit harder, being a mother and homemaker while taking care of the Mosher home. The Mosher family consisted of five children, which included sisters Linda and Diane along with brothers Gary and Timothy.
As most at age 5, Robert was off to his first taste of being a student at the Eden Elementary School. Here he was educated until second-grade when he moved to Silver Creek. There he was educated until grade five before he was registered in the Forestville Central School until graduation. While in school, he enjoyed playing football and basketball, excelling in both.
High school days changed his life. He was now old enough to go out with his friends and do the things high school boys did. Good friends included David Crane, Jim Pleszewski, Terry Howard, Larry Howard and Ray Bolling.
Growing up during the younger years saw the group at their favorite spot, a tree house that was hidden in the woods that also had a rope vine that was attached to one of the higher branches. The boys spent uncounted hours jumping on the vine seeing how many could hang on or how high the vine could reach.
When not playing, the young group knew if they wanted any extra money that they would have to find work. While young, it was easy to land work on one of many local fruit farms. Here one could make as much as he desired. If one needed more money, it meant he had to pick more fruit. As the boys got older, jobs like painting and lawn maintenance came more easily. The better the boys worked the better the jobs came.
The summertime also saw the group, when not working, out swimming or fishing at the Conewango River. The boys fished for bullheads, walleye and any kind of panfish that would take the bait.
In 1965 came Robert's graduation day. It didn't, however, mean it was his last day as a high school student. He realized he wanted a college degree. To obtain this goal, he needed to raise his grade average before he applied for a college. He decided to attend Forestville as a post-graduate.
Later, it was on to college at Fredonia State then later at Empire. Mosher was allowed to continue his education and all was going well until December 1965. An everyday trip out to the mailbox, hoping to receive his new copy of a catalog, brought a larger envelope.
It has his name and address from the Department of Defense draft bureau. It was his official notice. He was heading to become a U.S. soldier.
Without wasting any time, Mosher headed to the Air Force recruiter only to find out that his medical records showed early signs of spinal meningitis. Not wanting to be considered a reject to serve when all his friends were going, he went to the Marine recruiter, which was in need for men because they were in up to their necks in a war that was going on in southeast asia in a country called Vietnam.
Vietnam was a war that each night on television showed the nation the fight we were up against. It was a war with no end in sight. Informing the Marine recruiter of his condition, he was guaranteed a radio electronics military occupational specialty, which sealed the deal.
The mid 60s were one of the busiest times the recruiting depot at Parris Island, S.C., had seen since World War II.
Vietnam wasn't like Korea, the last war the Marine Corp participated in. The mission was to make Marines and make them fast and make them well. Robert saw eight weeks of boot camp then eight weeks at Camp Lejeune for infantry training. A 30-day leave to sunny California for training in each Marines specialty went well. He was sent to San Diego for his electronics school. Before he knew it, he was repairing the many types of military communication equipment and rose to the rank of lance corporal pay grade E-3. Six weeks later, he was starting to be a teacher himself. With that came the rank of corporal pay grade E-4.
In San Diego, he was informed the Marine Corp needed him to convert to a new military occupational specialty. This specialty sent him to school for repairs to radio and teletype conversion. His new duties sent him to various Marine installations to insert crypted codes into the radio equipment so the upper echelon could talk between bases and ensure the strict, top secret coding.
The next 30 days brought this young Marine back home to enjoy some leave. Now a U.S. Marine with a top-secret clearance, Mosher could not describe what he was doing in the service. "I really can't tell you," he would say.
Robert Mosher was now a Marine. He was ready to do all the things the Marine Corp had taught him.
The flight to Vietnam started as most flight for Marines, being attached to a staging battalion at Camp Joseph H. Pendleton in California. It was the final training for all Marines in the continental United States. Here you were trained how to survive if separated from your unit, what to do if captured, and how to deal with the insects and wild animals. Marines were also taught the Vietnamese customs, including sacred animals, shrines and even taught never to touch a Vietnamese child on its head. Things that if one were separated from one's unit may help until you were recovered.
The company then boarded buses to the airstrip. All boarded a C-130 then flew to Oakland where a 727 that would transport the Marines to Okinawa.
As you boarded, you walked to the back and filled seats until the plane was completely loaded. The stop in Okinawa was short, a two-day stop that gave Robert time to check in his seabag, sign up for his pay to either be deposited or sent to his wife or mother, receive a few shots.
Last, but not least, you had a chance to make out your last will and testament. Watching 17- and 18-year-olds making out their wills was a sight that never leaves ones mind.
Next week: Part two.