At age 28, Chaplain Lt. Col. Larry D. Mosley had no military experience of any kind. An Associate Pastor of Florence First United Methodist Church in Florence, Alabama, Chaplain Mosley was working on acquiring a private pilot's license when he was recruited by the local Civil Air Patrol chapter to be a Chaplain. He had been an ordained minister for ten years during the Civil Rights movement and soon faced resistance in his upward mobility within the North Alabama Conference of the United Methodist Church due to his beliefs in equal rights. "I had come to believe and to preach that the teachings of Jesus Christ were absolutely incompatible with racism, white supremacy, religious bigotry and anti-Semitism," Chaplain Mosley says.
Despite this, he began to receive recruiting letters from the Division of Chaplains stating the urgent need for chaplains as the Vietnam buildup of the military services was under war. "I considered this a call from God to seriously consider the chaplaincy," he says. "During the interview for the chaplaincy I expressed my opposition to the Vietnam War. They explain to us that, according to the Geneva Conventions, chaplains are defined as 'non-combatants'and are forbidden to bear arms or to participate in any form of combat."
After the interview, Chaplain Mosley was informed that he would have to wait a year to be placed in the Air Force, whereas he could have been placed in the Army or Navy Chaplaincy that day. "The Air Force had always been my first choice," he says.
Three months later, he received his orders from the Chief of Air Force Chaplains to report to the USAF Chaplain School at Maxwell AFB in Montgomery, Ala. Following graduation, Chaplain Mosley spent two years at Reese AFB in Lubbock, Texas. "Because I had a private pilot's license, I could talk flying with the young trainees," he states. "I flew a lot in the instructor's plane's backseat in T-37 missions, in the two-engine, straight wing jet with side by side seating."
The Vietnam War was heating up and there was a growing need for chaplains to minister and council with increasing number of troops. Chaplain Mosley felt a sense of God calling him to volunteer for service in Vietnam. With his family's support, he was later assigned to U Tapao Royal Thai Airfield in Thailand. "One of our main missions at U Tapao was the B-52 bombers that dumped tons of bombs on the Viet Cong invading South Vietnam," he recalls.
One memory that sticks out in Chaplain Mosley's mind is when a rescue helicopter crashed near the Thai Navy hanger. He helped get one survivor onto a gurney and rolled him through knee-deep water to the waiting ambulance. "I boarded the ambulance with him and prayed and comforted him as we drove to the hospital," he says. "I learned 30 years later that he had survived." He finally got in touch with the wounded soldier, Master Sergeant Tommy Miles, thirty years later and filled him in about the day of the accident.
Chaplain Mosley retired after 25 years of service in August of 1992 and later came to Pensacola First United Methodist Church as the Associate Pastor. His unyielding dedication to the United States and those who served it will never be forgotten.
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