SD Vietnam War Memorial Dedication Please Support the Memorial Soldiers, Heroes, and teachers information

 

 



In Memory of U.S. Navy Aviation Electrician’s Mate Third Class

Le Roy Moser

Pollock, South Dakota, Campbell County

 August 27, 1944 – July 29, 1967

Died in Explosion aboard the Aircraft Carrier Forrestal
 
in the Gulf of Tonkin, Vietnam

  

Le Roy Moser was born on August 27, 1944, to Simon and Frances (Ackerman) Moser, Jr. at Mobridge, South Dakota. He was the oldest; his siblings included Rodney, Mavis, Donald, and David. He and his brothers and sister were raised on the family’s farm just west of Pollock and graduated from Pollock High School. Le Roy’s mother told us that Le Roy was “not afraid of work” as he did many jobs on the farm: caring for the cattle, doing the field work, and putting up hay for feed.

Le Roy entered active service in the Navy on March 15, 1965, and after his training came home in 1966 and was stranded in a bad snowstorm. Once the way was clear Le Roy returned to Washington, DC, marking the last time his family saw him. AE3 Moser went overseas as an aviation electrician’s mate aboard the Aircraft Carrier, USS Forrestal (CVA 59) in June of 1967.

According to the US Navy’s website, the Forrestal was the first of the “supercarriers” and the first to be “built with an angled flight deck, which allows simultaneous takeoffs and landings.” The planes that AE3 Moser worked on were part of Attack Carrier Air Wing 17 stationed aboard the Forrestal and launched from her deck in the Gulf of Tonkin, off the coast of Vietnam.

On July 29, 1967, prior to the “second launch on the fifth day in combat,” while fighter jets awaited takeoff, including one piloted by Lt. Commander (now Senator) John McCain, a missile was accidentally launched on board. The denotation caused a fire fueled by JP-5 jet fuel and aged onboard explosives. The ship’s nearly 6,000 personnel raced to defuse and throw bombs over the sides in the water. Fires raged both above and below deck for hours. Saving the Forrestal has gone down in history as a heroic story of men battling the fire and trying to save each other.

According to a newspaper clipping, because “many men were trapped below decks, and many had leaped overboard with the possibility of being picked up by other vessels, the list of missing was high at first,” so Navy personnel from Fargo, North Dakota, originally came to the Moser farm to tell them that their son and brother, Electrician’s Mate Third Class Le Roy Moser, was missing in action. A couple days later, after the fire had been contained and the dead and wounded largely accounted for, the Navy returned to tell Le Roy’s family that he was confirmed to have died in the explosions and fires aboard the USS Forrestal.

In the end, 132 crewmen died, 62 were injured, and 2 were missing, presumed dead. On October 2, 1967, about six weeks after what would have been his 22nd birthday, the body of Le Roy Moser and 17 other casualties from the Forrestal were buried with military honors at Arlington National Cemetery. His father, Simon Moser, Jr., 53, died on September 7, 1967, prior to his son’s burial.

His brother, Rodney, also a Vietnam veteran with a Purple Heart, wrote a poem in memory of his beloved brother, Le Roy:

We grew up together, My best friend and I./ He was a little older. A little shorter and shy./ We fought and we argued, Like most best friends do./ But a short time later; We started anew./ We both got out of school, And went off to the war./ He joined the Navy, and I joined the Corps./ We both served our country, Gave our best and much more./I served on land, He served off shore./

He lost his life, In the Vietnam War./The last time I saw him, Was about three years before./I love him and miss him, He was my best friend./ His name’s on the wall, And in my mind to the end./ We shared the same values, The same mother and dad./ My best friend was my brother, And that makes me glad./ His life still goes on, In family and friend./The Memories of him, Never will end.

In addition to his mother, Frances Hohenecker, of Aberdeen, and brother, Rod (Sandy) of Mobridge, Le Roy Moser is survived by his sister, Mavis (Jack) Heyd, and brothers, Donald (Debbie) and David (Jean), all of Aberdeen. Le Roy is also survived by 10 nieces and nephews and 7 grand-nieces and nephews.


Left: USS Forrestal, circa 1957; Right: Gravesite and memorial to 18 of the Forrestal victims, Arlington Nat’l Cemetery

 

This entry was respectfully submitted by Chantelle Janke, 9th grade, Spearfish High School, Spearfish, South Dakota. Information for this entry was provided by Mrs. Frances (Moser) Hohenecker, mother; Mavis Heyd, sister; Rod Moser, brother; the US Navy via the website
http://www.chinfo.navy.mil/navpalib/ships/carriers/histories/cv59-forrestal/cv59-forrestal.html  and http://www.npr.org/programs/wesat/features/2002/aug/ussforrestal/ . (P/S/F/A 6/16/05)

 


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