Note: This story was written by member and retired Air Force Colonel Ron Albers for Motts Military Museum. It is used here with permission.
John Theodore (Ted) Mosure was born in Columbus, Ohio in November, 1948, the second oldest in a family of seven children born to Ted R. and Patricia Mosure.
His father grew up in Grandview, joining the Army Air Corps during WWII. Among numerous other missions, he flew C-47s on D Day, dropping paratroopers into France. After returning from the war, getting married and getting his BA in Business Administration from Ohio State, he served in the Air Force at various duty stations. Ted Sr. was stationed at places such as Fort Knox, Kentucky, New Haven, Connecticut, and Elmendorf Air Force Base in Alaska through 1953 and, while there, was awarded only the fourth “Master Bush Pilot” certificate ever issued. In civilian life, Ted’s dad continued his passion for flying as he served as a corporate pilot for Standard Oil, Anchor Hocking and Beasley Industries. At least five uncles also served during World War II.
When the family returned to Central Ohio in 1955, Ted grew up on Columbus’ east side. One of his early memories was catching the bus on Main Street and Wilson Avenue to go to the YMCA to take swimming lessons during the summers when he was seven and eight years old. He also spent a lot of time at an early age walking to Alum Creek to fish or to just wander around. Fishing is still a passion. Once he got a bicycle, the horizons stretched much further.
Ted’s family moved to Columbus’ Northland area in February, 1962. He attended St. Matthias Elementary School and St. Francis DeSales High School. Although he enjoyed participating in whatever sport was in season, different part-time jobs, a paper route and working at Big Bear prevented any serious sports involvement. His bike continued to be his “magic carpet” to various fishing locations, especially around Hoover Reservoir and Minerva Lake. Upon graduation from high school in 1967, Ted enrolled at Ohio State during the summer quarter to study engineering. After two quarters, restlessness manifested itself with Ted visiting a Navy recruiter to see what was available. He was told there was an opening for boot camp in San Diego. That sounded attractive to someone in January in Ohio. As it turned out, all recruits were going to San Diego because of a medical quarantine at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center. Ted enlisted in the Navy on February 14, 1968, leaving for San Diego after being processed at Fort Hayes in Columbus.
While at boot camp learning about the regular Navy ships, ranks and regulations, Ted viewed a recruiting film about the Underwater Demolition Teams. Born of necessity during World War II, UDT personnel cleared obstacles on and near the beaches for Marines prior to amphibious landings. The film showed some of the training involved as well as a typical mission scenario culminating in the obstacles being blown “sky high”. Ted volunteered for and passed the screening test designed to see if prospective candidates have the physical ability to complete training.
From that point, interviews were conducted to detect undesirable personality traits among the applicants. UDT training is completely voluntary and potential trainees can quit at any stage. Ted chose an assignment to UDT training immediately out of boot camp. In retrospect, he thinks he probably should have taken orders to an “A” school first to help make rate. At that time, there were no ratings for working in UDT or on a Seal Team. Anyone serving on the teams had to maintain proficiency in a regular Navy rating at the same time and compete with regular Navy personnel for advancements. Some years ago, the Navy opened the rating of SEAL whereas a man can specialize as a SEAL, and make advancements in pay grade based on his performance in Special Operations.
Seal Team One in Coronado, California and Seal Team Two in Little Creek, Virginia, were the first Seal Teams. Established in 1962, 50 men were selected from existing Underwater Demolition Teams for each coast. Seals were formed to address counter-insurgency warfare, primarily in Southeast Asia. Initially, a sailor or an officer had to serve a tour of duty with an Underwater Demolition team before being considered for an assignment to Seals. By 1968, men who completed the UDT training could be assigned directly to a Seal team for further training because of increased manpower requirements in Vietnam.
After taking his boot camp leave, Ted was assigned to the Naval Amphibious Base in Coronado where the UDT training took place on the West Coast. Around 1973, the Little Creek, Virginia training was consolidated and moved to Coronado where all UDT (Bud/S) training still takes place. There was a period of several weeks before the next training class started. Ted spent the time training with incoming classmates, maintaining the area and getting used to the routine. PT, running and swimming took place each day. “Pre-trainees” occupied the lowest rung on the ladder and were responsible for all the routine maintenance around the area.
Finally, on July 1, 1968, Bud/S Class 47 began the official training routine. Bud/S stands for Basic Underwater Demolition/Seal training. Approximately six classes were started each year. Ted’s class began with 75 to 80 individuals who had volunteered and had passed the screening test. Among them were college swimmers, football players, ocean qualified life guards and track stars. One trainee won the high school mile in the California state track meet. Another could swim a mile in under sixteen minutes. But quite a few were similar to Ted, just average athletically and in physical stature.
Training was divided into three “phases” of six weeks each. The first phase was primarily physical training, swimming, obstacle course, long runs, working with the IBS (Inflatable Boat, Small) and dealing with the harassment of the instructors. All evolutions were timed. Anyone not meeting the standards was subject to extra attention from the instructor staff. Quitting was highly encouraged. Instructors were not about to waste time with marginal trainees if consummate effort was not demonstrated by the “tadpoles”. By Friday morning of the first week, about half of the class had quit and turned in their gear. Boat Crews of six or seven men were formed and re-formed as trainees quit. They ran in formation everywhere: to the chow hall, to the timed runs on the beach, to the pools and to the ocean for swims, to the obstacle course. Soft sand runs on the beach while carrying the IBSs on their heads were especially strenuous.
Carrying the boats and paddling them through surf as well as log PT taught trainees how to work together. “Rock Portage” was landing boats on the rock jetties outside the Hotel Del Coronado during particularly high surf. At first this exercise took place during the day, then again later at night. Teamwork was critical. Instructors monitored the trainees continuously to assess performance and attitude. Often, while not doing push-ups or enduring other physical harassment, the class would break into songs. As one might imagine, some were not suitable for civilian ears. Personnel who were seriously injured during this or other exercises were rotated back to the next class. Civilians staying at the hotel commonly watched these exercises.
By the fourth week, runs on the beach stretched to as much as 16 miles with boots. Ocean swims over two miles were common. Trainees had to be able to swim at least 50 meters underwater. Obstacle course times came down. All the conditioning to that point prepared the “tadpoles” for the famous “Hell Week” that started on Sunday afternoon of week five. The training routine during Hell Week expanded around the clock. Certain evolutions were added, such as the “Tijuana Paddle”. This was an IBS paddling race to the south end of the bay, portage over the Silver Strand and paddle back in the ocean to the training area. The boat crew that won was able to rest a bit as the others straggled in. It would be common for instructors to let the air out of sections of the boats while the trainees were doing push-ups and sit-ups in the cold surf. They were determining leadership qualities of trainees and their attitudes when confronted with unexpected difficulties. Members of the class were continually wet and sandy, causing much chaffing as the uniforms rubbed against the skin. Another favorite activity for instructors during “Hell Week” was the scheduling of frequent challenge races through the mud flats. In 1968, an area several miles south of the Amphibious Base held mud about three feet deep, smelling of decaying organic matter. This was the perfect environment to have “Olympic” diving contests off the end of overturned IBS’s. The instructors judged the boat crews on athletic ability and creativity. Invariably, everyone was completely covered and stinking mud invaded every body cavity. Box lunches were enjoyed while seated chest deep in the muck. The officers’ “ward room” was the dirtiest section. Again, when not competing against the other boat crews, songs were heartily sung by the trainees. This tended to keep up esprit de corps in the class.
Ted’s class had two official hours of sleep on Tuesday night. Most classes average four hours of sleep for the week. They were awakened with M-80’s blasting and instructors firing blank ammunition amidst much shouting and purposeful confusion. During the entire week, members of the class were continually challenged with problems to solve while in a sleep-deprived state. Trainees are subjected to intense mental and physical stress while enduring the cold, wet, gritty uniforms.
Almost all of Ted’s class completed Hell Week. It is a testament to the intensity of the training leading up to it as well as the leadership and camaraderie displayed by the entire class. One trainee broke his femur. A Vietnamese E-5 called it quits also. The following week was comprised mostly of routine training as the class healed from their ordeal.
Second Phase focused on learning Scuba diving. The runs, obstacle course, and PT continued; but the trainees spent class time and pool time learning diving techniques. Instructors harassed the members of Class 47 endlessly while in the pool, tying up air hoses, taking gear off of trainees and disassembling it on the bottom of the pool. Trainees are expected to solve the problems without coming to the surface. “Buddy breathing” is another technique learned in case two people have to survive on one set of tanks. Evenings were spent doing many compass swims up to 2000 yards during which swim pairs are required to reach targets without surfacing. Tidal currents and swimming speed were all factors in achieving success. One could not be distracted. Ted remembers one swim in which he and his swim partner swam through a school of luminous jellyfish. Ted always found the luminescence in the salt water fascinating.
Third Phase of Bud/S training consisted of small unit tactics, weapons familiarization, and explosives application. The class did many “missions” during the day and at night with compass courses and patrol tactics. Classes on learning about explosives, fuse burn rates, electric blasting caps and related materials were constant. The culmination of the training was spending three weeks on San Clemente Island setting off live explosives and refining squad sized tactics for fire and maneuver. Live explosives were used while running practice UDT style missions of clearing the beaches of obstacles. Swimming at night through kelp beds, required free diving to a 50-foot depth, more PT and runs all kept the “tadpoles” busy. Class members had their longest ocean swim, some eight miles with much of it against the tidal current, during this phase. The final “mission” was paddling IBSs onto a rocky shoreline on a foggy night, transporting the remainder of the unexploded ordinance to a “Radar Station” and blowing it up. The explosion was probably heard on Santa Catalina Island some twenty miles away.
Finally, on November 1, 1968, Class 47 graduated in a ceremony at the Naval Amphibious Base, Coronado, California. Ted was assigned to Seal Team One along with about half of his twenty-seven classmates. The remainder was split among UDT 11, 12 and 13. Ted soon began training with closed-circuit diving equipment. The Mark VI was a semi-closed circuit re-breather. It allowed some bubbles to escape, but most of what the diver exhaled went through chemical crystals designed to remove the carbon dioxide. The Emerson apparatus was completely closed circuit. No bubbles escaped to be detected by observers on the surface. This rig used pure oxygen and diving below a depth of 33 feet was considered dangerous.
Ted next attended Army Airborne school at Fort Benning, Georgia. He completed his jumps on the third week, qualifying for jump wings. Next up was SBI or Seal Basic Indoctrination, a six-week course designed to further familiarize students in weapons, compass courses, first aid, ambush and snatch techniques as well as intelligence gathering as practiced by Seals in Vietnam. Most of the work was done near the Salton Sea and in the mountains east of San Diego. This course was taught by experienced Seals who had recently returned from Vietnam. It covered as many of the situations encountered there as possible with lessons often learned the hard way. After SBI, Ted was assigned to Kilo Platoon and scheduled to deploy in July, 1969. Kilo Platoon consisted of two officers and twelve enlisted men, split into two squads.
During this pre-deployment training, the platoon practiced patrol tactics, using live fire maneuvering, practicing hand signals, radio communications with support elements. Also covered were methods to detect and disable booby traps found in Vietnam. All Seals took turns acting as patrol leader, planning and coordinating operations. During some of this time, members of Kilo platoon were cross-trained in other specialties. Ted and another Seal were assigned to attend Marine Sniper School at Camp Pendleton, California. They learned to use a Remington 700 during this training. Another place realistic training was done was in the northeast San Francisco Bay area. The sloughs in the Sacramento River area were perfect for the Seals to coordinate their training with other Navy support personnel, including PBRs (River Patrol Boats). During one of the exercises, a freight train derailed in the area and all the Navy elements were gathered up to assist until regular fire crews arrived. Fortunately, there were no injuries. The resulting fire made an eerie glow as the steel melted. The force of the derailment buried at least one rail car completely in the mud.
At any given time during the Vietnam conflict, there were approximately six platoons and several advisors operating in country. Most were from Seal Team One. Seal Team Two provided about one third of the personnel serving in Vietnam. Kilo Platoon departed Coronado, California for Vietnam in July, 1969 to replace another platoon whose tour was finished. Flying on Navy transport aircraft, the first stop was Barbers Point Naval Air Station in Hawaii. This was at the same time Neil Armstrong landed on the moon. Next, refueling stops were made on Wake Island and Guam before flying into Cam Rahn Bay, Vietnam. After orientation, most of the six-month tour was spent in Nam Can and Rach Gia. Both of these locations are in the Mekong Delta area. Nam Can is as far south as one can get in Vietnam. Rach Gia (pronounced rock jaw), was on the West Coast of Vietnam in an area used by the North Vietnamese for infiltration from Cambodia. Kilo Platoon’s assignments included ambushing enemy supply replenishments as well as identifying and capturing key Viet Cong cadre. Missions were determined by available intelligence from Army and Navy sources as well as South Vietnamese units. Ted remembers that most of the missions were squad-sized (6-8 people), started at night, and used boats to insert at pre-determined points. Boats were supplied by BSU 1 (Boat Support Unit One) and were manned by BSU personnel trained to support Seals during their missions. Once contact was made, the Seals usually withdrew to the extraction point. Sometimes, if good intelligence was acquired during the mission, Seals might continue on to take advantage of the situation. The area around Nam Can was much like Florida’s Everglades, with mangrove forests and tidal mud flats. Ted’s platoon often patrolled barefoot to not leave military style footprints in an area where there were very few allies. Seals usually had Seawolf helicopters available for air support and occasionally OV-10 Broncos and C-130 gunships with mini-guns for fire support. Large swaths of the area were defoliated with Agent Orange.
The Navy established a group of barges in the middle of the Cua Lon River, calling it Seafloat. Ted’s platoon stayed here for a few months during the first half of the tour. Seafloat had Navy personnel aboard serving on PBRs (River Patrol Boats) and Swift Boats. There was a helicopter pad on one end of the barges. Seafloat’s mission was to establish a U.S. and South Vietnamese presence in the region which was among the most remote places in the country. The Cua Lon River is the southernmost river in Vietnam, emptying into the Gulf of Thailand or into the South
China Sea, depending on the tides. Noise seemed to be continuous at night aboard Seafloat with concussion grenades going off in the water to discourage enemy sapper swimmers. Outgoing mortar fire was also common. Large areas along the river banks had motion/vibration detectors in place to get an early notice of possible enemy movement. An unusual operation Ted was involved with was the attempted recovery of radio scrambling gear lost off the deck of a Swift boat in a winding canal. Three days of Scuba diving failed to locate the equipment in water
that was about 18 feet deep, had strong tidal currents, littered with debris and deep in enemy controlled territory. Ted recalls having to walk along the bottom in total blackness using a metal rod to try to make contact with the metal footlocker-sized box. Another memorable mission saw the entire Seal platoon landed by helicopters in the middle of the mangrove forest during the day. Since landing zones were rare, Ted’s squad dropped into the mud in the middle of a bomb crater from a height of about 10-15 feet. A large claymore mine comprised of several hundred pounds of TNT had been set up to hit the Seals. Because of the surprise arrival, another member of the platoon was able to disconnect the explosive device before it could be detonated. A running firefight ensued, scattering the Vietcong further into the mangrove swamp.
When Kilo Platoon moved to Rach Gia around Thanksgiving, Ted recalls a Navy cook near Binh Thuy who had somehow gathered the fixings for a traditional dinner at a remote base along the southernmost branch of the Mekong River. Turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry salad and pumpkin pie were all there. It was amazing under the circumstances.
Being an outdoorsman prior to entering the Navy, Ted observed quite a few unusual creatures in Vietnam. There were various monkeys and snakes, but the strangest to Ted was a lungfish that came out mostly at night. After the Seals would settle into place at an ambush location, these lungfish that were 8”to 15” long would skitter across the mud flats, sometimes right over Seals’ legs. The shape of their head reminded him of a grasshopper and they grunted fairly loudly. Ted encountered leeches during one night out on ambush while the squad was mostly submerged in brackish water. There had been no contact with the enemy so the mission was ended. While on the return trip in the boat, Ted noticed his arm bleeding around the wrist under the camouflage sleeve. He discovered a leech that had been inadvertently squashed. Upon further inspection, he found over fifty of them on his body. Everyone else had about the same number. That was the only night that occurred since most of the water work was in a mixture of salt and fresh water. Another black night, Ted was startled when he bumped into a water buffalo as the squad approached a village. When it grunted, his heartbeat rate really soared!
Kilo Platoon had an eventful tour. They completed over 100 combat missions. The assistant Platoon Officer, David Nicholas was killed in action, while several of the original members were wounded seriously enough to return to the United States. Upon the platoon’s return to the Coronado Amphibious Base in January, 1970, they were disbanded and reassigned to other training. During that period, Ted qualified for a “Ho Chi Minh” advancement to E-4, Signalman 3rd Class. The Navy offered E-3s and E-4s who had served in Vietnam to advance one pay grade during that period.
In April, Ted was assigned to a platoon that was to participate in a preparedness exercise acting as aggressors to the Nationalist Chinese on Taiwan in war games. They departed by commercial
airline out of San Francisco and were based at Camp Kinser in Okinawa. The Seals used the
USS Grayback on the mission. This was a diesel submarine that had been converted with a holding area to launch unconventional forces while at sea. This holding area made the sub look something like a humpback whale, thus the name. Although Seals were trained to “lock out” of submarines through a narrow hatch, this insertion involved paddling the IBSs out of the holding area while the Grayback was partially submerged at night. Another mission involved a night combat parachute jump into the back country of Taiwan. In both of these exercises, the assignment for the Chinese was to find and capture the Seals, which did not happen. There was also a U.S. Army Special Forces group participating in the exercise in a different location. While in the remote areas of Taiwan, the Seals ate what they could find to augment their rations. Chinese farmers raised peanuts as well as cantaloupes that were yellow inside and very sweet. The countryside was beautiful with spectacular views of mountains and valleys. The extraction from the mission involved escaping over the beach and swimming back to the Grayback. Someone must have felt sorry for the Chinese troops and told them where the extraction point was, since the beach was heavily patrolled. The Seals took turns running to the water during the intervals when the jeeps had just passed and escaped undetected.
When the group returned to the United States in June, 1970, Ted was chosen to take the Seal Advanced Training course. The curriculum included adaptation of the latest lessons learned in the field regarding subjects such as weapons, booby traps, first aid, intelligence networking, etc. Seals also refined their forward observing skills as well as map and compass work. Ted excelled in this training, finishing first each week as well as first on the final exam in a class containing much more senior petty officers as well as officers. This performance earned him an invitation by the instructor staff to serve as an assistant advisor in the Vietnamese Seal Program. He departed in August, 1970, to team up with an E-6 who was the senior advisor to an LDNN platoon operating in the My Tho area south of Saigon. LDNN stood for Lien Doi Ngui Ngai, or Vietnamese “Frogmen”. These Vietnamese were trained in Cam Rahn Bay by U.S. UDT and Seal personnel and then deployed to operate mostly in the Mekong Delta with Seal advisors. Ted’s LDNN platoon ran operations out of Dong Tam, a military base a few miles upriver from My Tho. This area was much more open than where Ted served during his first tour. Rice paddies and tree lines formed a grid pattern as seen from the air, although areas close to the rivers and canals were thickly overgrown nipa palm trees. Booby-trapped areas seemed more common in this region. These were usually marked with “Tu Dia” signs to warn civilians away.
Ted remembers an operation during the day when the LDNN patrol encountered a booby-trapped section of jungle. While attempting to advance through the area, the group received fire from the trees. The LDNNs retreated to a rice paddy dike and returned fire while the senior advisor called in air support in the form of a Seawolf helicopter. This was a Huey equipped with 3.5” rocket pods. The helo flew in from behind the LDNN’s and cut loose with the rockets. Ted watched the rockets in the air, flying toward them spinning somewhat like poorly thrown footballs. The pilot of the Seawolf was on target as the rockets passed closely overhead to detonate in the treeline about fifty yards in front of the group. This caused the enemy to disperse, breaking contact.
Ted had participated in about 35 missions with the platoon before he was reassigned to the LDNN training compound at the Cam Rahn Bay Naval Facility to finish his tour of duty. His replacement in the field was Lt. James Thames. Lt. Thames was killed in action shortly afterward near Nam Can along with two members of the LDNN platoon that Ted had worked with.
Upon returning to Coronado, California in February, 1971, Ted completed the Navy Shipboard Instructors School, placing second in the class. He spent the remainder of his enlistment serving as an instructor in the Seal Basic Indoctrination course, specializing in Intelligence Networking instruction to new Seals coming out of BUD/S training. Ted was married in September to Linda Sweitzer, a graduate of Northland High School in Columbus. He and Linda enjoyed Southern California while Ted finished his commitment to the Navy. He received an early discharge after being accepted at Franklin University and left active duty in November, 1971.
Ted resumed a career in the grocery industry while attending Franklin University, working at Big Bear stores in Gahanna and Hilliard. After leaving Big Bear, Ted held positions at I&K Distributors as well as a food brokerage firm. He and Linda raised two children and enjoy spending time with five grandchildren. In the 1980’s, Ted became involved with Vietnam Veterans of America, serving as president of the Columbus chapter. He joined VFW around the same time.
In 1999, Ted was part of a group of Vietnam veterans who established the Ohio Military Hall of Fame. An idea conceived by Ed Arthur was brought to fruition through the efforts of the group led by the late Bob White Sr., a retired Army Special Forces Major. The Ohio Military Hall of Fame honors veterans who entered the service from Ohio or were born in Ohio and also awarded a medal for valor on the battlefield. They recently held their tenth annual induction ceremony at the Ohio Statehouse in May, 2009. Information can be obtained on their website www.ohioheroes.org. Ted serves as president of the board of directors of this organization.
Ted is also a life member of Amvets Post 89, associate life member of the Special Forces Association, a member of the UDT/Seal Association, and is an active member of Catholic War Veterans Greater Columbus Post 1936, serving as Commander the past three years. Ted also is the CWV representative on the Columbus Mayor’s Advisory Council. He values the friendships he has made in the Veterans community. He and Linda enjoy fishing and traveling when they get a chance.
Ted has been a good friend and a member of our museum for many years, and we have numerous Navy SEAL items and photos he has donated on display in our new wing.