Sniper Profile

  • Country of Origin: United States of America
  • Conflict: Vietnam
  • Theater of Operation: 9th ID, Mekong Delta
  • Confirmed Kills: 49
  • Weapon Used: M-21
  • Historical Source: Family and Military Documentaion

We know that our list of combat snipers is incomplete and we recognize that being a sniper in combat takes a toll on a person, both physically and even more so psychologically. Many snipers have gone to war, performed their duties admirably, and then came home and moved on with life. Doing everything they could to never think of what they did in combat. Just wanting to live a normal life. Some are successful, some are not. Unfortunately it is not easy to come back to civilian life after seeing and doing what snipers do. Often times there are snipers that performed exceptionally well, even performing amazing acts of heroism, but no one outside of their family ever knows. They have no desire for accolades, books, or movies to be made. They just want to forget and move on. Dennis H. Moss is one of those amazing individuals and snipers.

SSgt. Moss’s family always knew he had “earned lots of medals and was a sniper in Vietnam”, but it was not until he died on 2 June 2018 that his family discovered the full extent of what he had done. They found the proverbial “box in the attic” that was filled with medals, official documentation, and pictures from his time in service. Then the digging and investigative work began and with the help of the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis they were able to piece some of the details together. Not all of those pieces have been completely filled in, but enough of them have been to paint a remarkable picture of one of the exceptional US Army Snipers in Vietnam.

Dennis Moss grew up in Spokane, Washington and as was typical for the successful snipers during that time period, was an avid outdoorsman. After he graduated high school in Spokane, he headed up to Alaska to help with guiding hunters and he himself was an accomplished hunter and marksman. He then enlisted in the US Army and headed off to basic training as an infantryman in March of 1968. By July of that year he was in the Mekong Delta in Vietnam, a grunt in the 6th Infantry Battalion, 31st Infantry, 9th Infantry Division.

Moss is the third from the left in the back row

It did not take long for Dennis to show his capabilities and abilities and he was sent to the famous 9th ID Sniper School that was setup in country. The school was two and half weeks long and he was a part of the third graduating class from that school that consisted of about 10 graduates. That was on 4 Jan 1969 and then he was deployed as an operating sniper soon thereafter. On the first day of February he was able to get his first confirmed kill and over the next five months his confirmed kill count rose until he was transferred over to be an instructor at the same 9th ID Sniper School in July of 1969. At that time he had 49 confirmed kills. But his kill count does not tell the entire story. During his time operating as a sniper he showed extreme bravery in countless engagements, performing numerous acts of heroism that earned him the following medals.

2 Silver Stars
3 Bronze Stars with “V” (for Valor)
5 Bronze Stars (non “V”)
2 Army Commendation Medals with “V”
2 Army Commendation Medals (non “V”)
Combat Infantryman Badge

On top of the above impressive list, just as the 9th ID was rotating out of Vietnam, he was recommended for the Distinguished Service Cross, the second highest medal for valor behind the Medal of Honor. Unfortunately, as the 9th ID rotated out of Vietnam it appears that the paperwork was lost in the shuffle. The National Personnel Records Center is helping to try and get the final paperwork approved after all of these years so the award can be given. Everything had been filled out, and copies of the recommendation and eye witness testimonies have been found, but it was just never finalized.

There were many other ribbons and medals that SSgt Moss has on his official DD-214, but perhaps the most remarkable is the one that is not there. Notice there is no mention of a Purple Heart ever being awarded, that is because he was never wounded in combat.

Dennis served a full twelve month tour in Vietnam and when the 9th ID rotated home, the 25th ID contacted him and somehow convinced him to extend six more months in Vietnam where he continued as an instructor in the 25th ID sniper school (See the picture below). Finally he was discharged in March of 1970 as a Staff Sergeant (E-6) after only two years in service. It was a different time back then and we have all heard and read the stories of how veteran’s were treated and we can assume it was the same for Dennis.

No one beyond a few friends he served with really knew everything SSgt. Moss had done and some of those friends were located and talked to by his surviving family. After the war, he moved on, and continued to guide hunts in Alaska and do the things he loved, never talking about his experiences. Not even to his kids. It makes us wonder how many more people like Dennis are out there?

His combat log book has been recreated below and it is interesting to look at. You will notice toward the end of his time serving as a combat sniper, the range of the kill shots drops off significantly, and I suspect that is due to the adoption of night raids by snipers using a M21 with suppressors and PVS-2 night vision scopes. Several of his citations mention acts of heroism during engagements at night and this was a popular sniping tactic for snipers with the 9th ID.

It is not often that we get the privilege of learning about someone new and we are delighted to find out more about some of the amazing men and women that have served in combat as snipers. It was very interesting to read through and see the information for Dennis Moss and we are privileged to put his name and information up here at sniper central. If any of our readers know of any snipers that we should talk to or be aware of, please contact us. With their permission, or the permission of their family, we would love to show our honor and respect.

Sniper Central 2019

Date# KillsRange
1 Feb 691 VC175 M
8 Feb 693 VC400 M
12 Feb 691 VC200 M
28 Feb 691 VC7 ft
3 Mar 692 VC250 M
4 Mar 691 VC800 M
17 Mar 691 VC200 M
25 Apr 691 VC400 M
26 Apr 691 VC200 M
27 Apr 695 VC300 M, 450 M
28 Apr 691 VC200 M
30 Apr 691 VC400 M
1 May 691 VC200 M
2 May 691 VC500 M
3 May 692 VC300 M, 600 M
6 May 691 VC350 M
8 May 691 VC400 M
10 May 691 VC600 M
13 May 691 VC250 M
15 May 691 VC250 M
18 May 691 VC175 M
20 May 691 VC250 M
1 Jun 691 VC100 M
3 Jun 692 VC100 M
7 Jun 696 VC125 M, 150 M, 250 M
9 Jun 691 VC100 M
10 Jun 691 VC160 M
13 Feb 693 VC150 M
16 Jun 693 VC150 M
26 Jun 692 VC150 M, 175 M
Total Kills 49 VC

15 Comments

Matt Howell

Holy crap. One of the kills is at 7ft! We’ll have to chalk that one up to crazy good field skills unless we get the full story…

Reply
Geof Moss

Hi Matt. That 7-foot entry was explained in the eyewitness statement dad’s sniper partner wrote up for his DSC nomination. It says “on 28 February 1969, when our night position was being overrun by a Viet Cong force, I saw Sgt Moss courageously hold his position, engage and dispatch a Viet Cong soldier at a distance of 7-feet before the enemy could detonate the fragmentation grenade he was about to deliver.”

Reply
kansas

I’ve studied some detail regarding 9 ID riverine operations. But none go into much detail about sniper operations. Would love to learn more about how they were employed in that environment.

Reply
mele-02

One of SSgt Moss’s citations gave a brief encounter. They were on a patrol boat that was ambushed from the shore. Dennis returned fire from the prone position on the deck/platform of the boat. Didn’t go into much detail but eye witnesses indicated he killed several and caused the others to flee. I know that Adelbert Waldron operated from patrol boats often as well.
MEL

Reply
Randal L Moss

I am proud to say the Denny was my cousin. I, like much of his family, am learning of his military service too late to shake his hand. The last time I saw Denny I was about 11 or 12 years old. He was about 3 or 4 years older than I. I lived 300 miles and new that he had gone into the army. Through facebook I contacted his sister after losing touch with their family. Sadly, Denny’s health had already deteriorated to the point where when I emailed him, he was unable to answer. For many years, I have traced the genealogy of the family and have added all this detail about Denny to it.

Reply
Michael

I served with the joint Army-Navy Mobile Riverine Force with River Assault Squadron 15/Division 152 as a Radioman/Machine gunner onboard an Armored Troop Carrier ( Tango) boat. We moved Riverine Infantry around in the small rivers and canals through the Mekong Delta IV Corps Combat Zone. At times Snipers were placed on Tango boats for missions. A 23″ Xenon tank searchlight was used. It was modified with a “pink filter” and the missions were called “Pinkeye”. The pink filter was compatible with the starlight scopes the the Snipers utilized. The recognition range was up to 2000 meters. The boats would move along the shore at about 100-200 meters. Sometimes one of our Monitor boats would accompany the Tango in case the firepower of the 105 howitzer mount was needed to fire at enemy that were marked by Sniper tracers. You can find some of this information in the March 1969 COMNAVFORV Monthly Summary on Page 4 of the “Riverine Assault Force Summary” section:

https://www.history.navy.mil/research/archives/digitized-collections/commander-naval-forces-vietnam/monthly-summaries-1969/march.html

Reply
Geof Moss

Kansas – take a look at Ed Eaton’s book “Mekong Mud Dogs” on Amazon. Ed was part of the 3/60th of the 9th Infantry Division, which I believe was a full time part of the Mobile Riverine Force and even berthed on Navy ships. Ed was a fellow 9th ID sniper and his book has some good info on how they operated in the delta, including some descriptions of the Night Hunter missions that dad’s sniper partner described to me over the phone.

Reply
Geof Moss

More detail from the narrative on the DSC nomination that Mel referenced above: “On 3 June 1969, Sgt Moss’ element, carrying out sniper missions aboard a Tango Boat on the My Tho River, came under sudden and intense automatic and semi-automatic weapons fire from a superior sized enemy force, concealed in positions at close range. While others aboard the craft sought positions of safety, Sgt Moss, disregarding his own welfare, braved the withering, grazing fire, and remained in a completely exposed position atop the open deck of the boat. While a hail of rounds passed inches from his body, Sgt Moss sighted more than a dozen of the enemy and engaged them with heavy and highly accurate fire. Due to his quick, skillful, and courageous actions, a number of the sighted enemy element were killed, the remaining forces were put to rout, and the lives of those aboard were saved.”

Reply
Morris Rogers

Wow!! Amazing man. I truly wish that his story had been know earlier so that he could have received the thanks that he so richly deserved.

Reply
Tony Virrueta

I am a retired Army Ranger and am proud to have known Mr. Moss for a brief period right after I got out in California. I served in both the 9th and 25th Div’s (Light) obviously at a much later time. I did go back to Washington to serve in the 2/75 Ranger Battalion. Thank you for your service sir!

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David Combs

I had the wonderful privilege of hunting Arizona Desert Sheep with Geoff Moss, his brother Tom and Father Denny about 12 years ago. Denny was in charge of our remote desert camp. My wife and I have done much hunting in remote and rugged locations. Believe me when I say this was the most organized and finest remote camp we have experienced in our many years of hunting. The camp was also tidy, well organized and well stocked with everything we may have needed. This was all due to Denny’s eye for perfection. Denny was also a great camp chef. We also enjoyed his
stories around the campfire after dinner. I truly respected this fine gentleman.

Reply
Ed Eaton

Dennis and i were in the same Sniper course together, became great friends as we both hunted the same Blue Mountains in OR. and WA. A fine man in every respect and well deserving of this article. One of the great Snipers of the 9th Inf. Div.
Rest in peace Brother!!
Ed Eaton

Reply
James Anderson

I have had the privilege of knowing Denny since we were in grade school together. I went through basic training with Denny at Fort Lewis. His heroism began there. Denny saved the life of one of our fellow platoon members during a live fire training exercise. The platoon member panicked on the course and stood up. Denny stood up in the middle of course and tackled him to ground before they could be hit by the 50 caliber live fire.

Reply
James Anderson

Geoff in response to your comments 2-23-19.
Your dad told me this same story as you related a few months after he return over few beers. We left to go up to Alaska to work for Bill Pennel’s guide service a few days later.

Reply

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