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After discharge, Austintown Navy veteran keeps on giving

Thomas Moss

EDITOR’S NOTE: To suggest a veteran for this series, which runs weekly through Veterans Day, email Metro Editor Marly Reichert at mreichert@tribtoday.com or call her at 330-841-1737.

AUSTINTOWN — During the Vietnam War, Thomas Moss felt obligated for several reasons to enlist and serve our country. So, at 17, his wish was granted.

Even though his parents preferred that he stay in school and graduate, Moss had other ambitions. He chose the Navy because he always had a love of the ocean.

His parents were of Italian, English, and Irish descent and began raising him and his sister in the Brier Hill neighborhood of Youngstown before moving to Austintown. After his sophomore year at Fitch High School, he was given a warm family sendoff to begin boot camp in Chicago.

Following boot camp, he was sent to Charleston, South Carolina, and was commissioned to active duty aboard the USS Davis D.D. 937 destroyer.

“It wasn’t the biggest destroyer in the fleet, but it was still an enormous amount of maintenance and upkeep,” Moss said.

Initially, his job was general quarters, which included anything and everything. But when the ship headed south to practice shooting bombs at targets at sea, Moss was promoted to 3rd Class Petty Officer-Boatswain Mate. He was responsible for the Magazine Room and the Powder Room and loaded the heavy shells.

It was very stressful and dangerous, he said. If a practice bomb was dropped in error or did not fire off properly, the bomb had a timer mechanism that gave the gunner’s mate 15 minutes to remove the bomb from the ship before its detonation.

The USS Davis was smaller and more versatile at sea. Its job was to follow specific quadrants and hit accurate enemy targets in order to assist the Army and Marines. During drills, Moss injured his knee and was unable to continue his duties. He was immediately sent to the NAS Miramar Base in San Diego for an operation and recuperation. This is the same Navy base where the movie “Top Gun” was set.

Moss was honorably discharged in 1976 after his two years of duty. He was glad to be home and glad that he had served his country, but felt as though it was his duty to help those soldiers who may not have been as fortunate as he was. More than 58,000 men gave the ultimate sacrifice in Vietnam. Therefore, he vowed to find a way to volunteer his services to our disabled American veterans.

One year after his discharge, Moss was well enough to begin work at Youngstown Steel Door. But after three years, the business folded in 1980. But he got back on his feet, soon after, when he landed a job as a mail processor at the main post office in downtown Youngstown.

“It was a great job, and I met a lot of great people there and I made a good living before retiring after 30 years of service,” Moss said.

Moss has kept very busy through the years while working at the post office and in retirement. For the past four years, following his second knee replacement, he has been using his naval expertise while working as a pool attendant and sweeper for two separate pools, at the Sun RV at Geneva on the Lake.

For years, he has been very active at the American Legion and with the Disabled American Veterans. Moss grants much praise to Tony Revetti for all the work he has done for our veterans. They both have been active in helping disabled vets in processing their paperwork to obtain their benefits.

And what both men are very proud of is the development of a new Middle East Memorial on Wickliffe Circle that will include all Middle East wars when complete. It will be located across from the fire station on Mahoning Avenue in Austintown near Higgins-Reardon Funeral Home.

O.T. Beight is working on the stone that was designed by Moss, and he is also instrumental in helping to raise nearly $12,000 of the $28,000 to complete the memorial.

Wickliffe Circle also features the Mahoning Valley Korean War Veterans Memorial.

Have an interesting story? Contact the newsroom by email at news@vindy.com. Follow us on X, formerly Twitter, @TribToday.

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