The Tiger! ~ It's Mosley

by: Kenneth N. Nance
Combat Medic in A Co. 1/327 101st Airborne
Vietnam, 1968-1969
(© 2000)



I was a combat medic in A Co. 1/327 101st Airborne, from Nov 1968 to Nov 1969. Then I went to 8th Field Hospital in Nha Trang till
Jul 1970 and ran a small dispensary my last two months in Vung Ro Bay, just south of the big Air Base at Tuy Hoa. Ken Nance

The Tiger!

John Mosley was my first medical patient from my new combat infantry platoon – 3rd Platoon, A Company, 1st/327, 101st Airborne Division, Vietnam. He had curly dark blonde hair, perennially smiling blue eyes that forgave you even before you had offended him, and seemingly rugged, pasty skin. His skin was the reason he came up to me that afternoon, my first afternoon in the field, a hillside jungle just east of Highway #1 between Hue and Đà Nẵng.

“Doc, can you help me out?” he asked, extending both his arms, displaying numerous festers of ‘jungle rot,' a non-specific infection of even the slightest scratch that was acerbated by the constant humidity of the tropics coupled with an absolute inability to keep clean. Anxious to make a positive first impression with my new comrades, I opened my aid bag and set in with the most deliberate aseptic techniques to cleaning his wounds. I stuck a cotton-tipped applicator into a bottle of hydrogen peroxide, then, starting in the center of one sore, began slow circular motions outward, careful not to retrace the tip over any area I had just cleaned. Then I did the same using mercurochrome.

After I’d completed two or three of his festered sores and more than a dozen applicators lay at our feet, he gently took the bottle of peroxide from my hand and poured a quarter of the it over one arm and a quarter over the other, letting the fluid run down covering all his pustulations. As his arms boiled white, he did the same with the staining orange antiseptic. “Thanks, Doc,” he grinned, and he moved away toward his gear. John had given me my first lesson in the difference between theory and practice in field medicine.

John stayed with the third platoon through the monsoons, then in the spring of 1969 he transferred to the Tigers, our battalion’s reconnaissance platoon – a group of wild misfits who pushed the infantry envelope to the limit with their daring, devil-may-care attitudes and a significant number of death-wishes. The Tigers were a strike force, utilized as a roving ambush and attack group – just shy of mercenary assassins, and they were tough – all volunteers who were proud to be thought of as crazy. They were a platoon that performed the work of a strong company.

It's Mosley ...

During July I was at the forward aid station on a firebase not ten klicks from where I had first met John. The night before a young tiger had wandered toward our perimeter and was shot after having set off a trip flare. There were a lot of redleg artillery men sitting around a sandbag protected howitzer, encouraging each other’s false bravado as they snapped pictures of each other posing with the striped, dead two-year-old native. I thought, “What a bunch of puds!  Even this close to the field these guys are still REMFs.”

The medical platoon sergeant came into the tent and told me that the Tiger platoon had had a KIA last night and the body was in a bunker just outside the aid station. They didn’t know who it was. He said it was either someone named Mosley or another name I’ve forgotten. I told him I knew Mosley. He told me to go check it out so we could positively identify the fallen trooper and I dragged to my feet.

At the entrance to the bunker – it was a sandbag and corrugated steel plate reinforced Quonset hut – lay a poncho-covered body. I looked at the shroud and feared the view since I’d heard that this guy had been shot between the eyes. As I gently lifted back the poncho I stopped after I’d uncovered enough to see the dark blonde curls falling in contrasting stripes and a pasty forehead. I dropped the poncho and returned to the aid station and told the sergeant, “It’s Mosley.”


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