We started to learn more about Lyle Moseng’s Vietnamese Navy service to help us better understand the impact of the Vietnam War on our region.
Lyle was born in Smyrna, Tennessee in 1944, but his toddler years were spent in Minneota, his parents’ hometown. The family moved to Marshall when her father took a job at Cargill’s Marshall plant.
Lyle grew up in Marshall hanging out with neighborhood kids; attend Marshall Public Schools; and working outside the home from an early age. He graduated with the Marshall High School class of 1962 with no post-graduation plans.
Motivated in part by his mother’s urging to find a job, he enlisted in the navy at age seventeen. He explained his reasoning behind this decision.
“The recruiter told us that if we signed up for Boot Camp, we had a choice of Great Lakes or San Diego. If we went to San Diego we would probably have the Pacific Ocean. I really wanted to go to the Orient. I have always wanted to travel. »
The Navy took him by bus to the Twin Cities the day after he enlisted in June 1962. Lyle told the Navy recruit processing clerk that he was interested in working on aircraft and accepted a training designation in aviation. He explained that he didn’t realize it could make him stand out.
“When I came to Boot Camp in aviation they have green stripes and in engineering they have red stripes, and the Seabees have blue stripes. You don’t want to stand out, but I was the only guy with a green stripe at Boot Camp. But that got me into aviation.
The flight to San Diego was Lyle’s first flying experience, but that thrill faded in the chaos and bustle of Boot Camp.
“There was a lot of screaming, but it wasn’t too bad because we were all together. They put us in a reception area until we got a business. As soon as we got our company, they gave us clothes [and] our haircuts. [Y]We’re sitting in a reception area and you’re with college kids, jocks, and long-haired men. You’re with all these different people and then one day they shaved our hair and gave us the same clothes and you couldn’t identify the people you knew. We all looked alike. Then when they put us in calisthenics, I realized I could do as much as anyone else. I think it changed me to be an insecure teenager.
Although Lyle didn’t know what to expect, Boot Camp agreed with him.
“I liked Boot Camp. We were still in class and they would put you on the grinder (a big paved area) and do some calisthenics. We got kicked. They told you not to move and that ‘we’d cross the line and they’d probably give you eight-nine strokes. Then they’d take you to the grinder and have you do drills, so you wouldn’t stiffen up. After you’ve gone through your basic part – probably about four weeks –, you enter the formation.
This basic part involved lessons in how to behave on board a ship.
“In the navy, we insist on cleanliness. We have what they call a white hat and low key inspection where you hold your white t-shirt and hat and they look for dirt. I think it’s all part of the fact that you’re going to live so close to each other on a boat. Maybe six of you live in a seven to eight foot area.
Lyle explained the Navy’s efforts to train recruits on the importance of cleanliness.
“All of our clothes had to be scrubbed by hand. We had a concrete scrub board with a bucket and soap. We scrubbed our whites and hung them up with a string. It always had to be a square knot and they had to be three-fingered [apart]. Our clothesline always had someone on duty.
Lyle described the second, more specific training phase of Boot Camp which included swimming, water survival and abandon ship drills.
“You are doing a week of firefighting. [Y]You are the only firefighters on this ship, so you have to learn how to fight oil fires. They had pieces of ships on the grinder. They would light a room on fire and you would be on the other side and you had to keep it cool. They would keep you in there for a while, learning that you can rely on each other. A guy could operate [the hose], but there were two or three standing in the back to control him. We did rifle practice and we did the gas chamber [with tear gas]. They gave us a gas mask and took us there. Then we would take off the gas mask and we had to give our general orders and they would ask questions. After you’ve had so many, you could put your mask back on. It was interesting.
After graduating from Boot Camp, the Navy wanted to send Lyle to tech school, but he had other ideas.
“I really wanted to go to Japan or Hong Kong when I joined the navy, so I didn’t go to school. From Boot Camp, I received orders for Midway Island. So I went halfway overseas and they stopped and left me there for a year.
Lyle began his operational Navy service at a remote Naval Air Station in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
The Departmental Museum of Lyon is organizing an exhibition on the impact of the Vietnam War on the department of Lyon. If you would like to share experiences in Vietnam or help with the exhibit, please contact me at prairieview [email protected] or call the museum at 537-6580.