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.
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
|1 Feb 69||1 VC||175 M|
|8 Feb 69||3 VC||400 M|
|12 Feb 69||1 VC||200 M|
|28 Feb 69||1 VC||7 ft|
|3 Mar 69||2 VC||250 M|
|4 Mar 69||1 VC||800 M|
|17 Mar 69||1 VC||200 M|
|25 Apr 69||1 VC||400 M|
|26 Apr 69||1 VC||200 M|
|27 Apr 69||5 VC||300 M, 450 M|
|28 Apr 69||1 VC||200 M|
|30 Apr 69||1 VC||400 M|
|1 May 69||1 VC||200 M|
|2 May 69||1 VC||500 M|
|3 May 69||2 VC||300 M, 600 M|
|6 May 69||1 VC||350 M|
|8 May 69||1 VC||400 M|
|10 May 69||1 VC||600 M|
|13 May 69||1 VC||250 M|
|15 May 69||1 VC||250 M|
|18 May 69||1 VC||175 M|
|20 May 69||1 VC||250 M|
|1 Jun 69||1 VC||100 M|
|3 Jun 69||2 VC||100 M|
|7 Jun 69||6 VC||125 M, 150 M, 250 M|
|9 Jun 69||1 VC||100 M|
|10 Jun 69||1 VC||160 M|
|13 Feb 69||3 VC||150 M|
|16 Jun 69||3 VC||150 M|
|26 Jun 69||2 VC||150 M, 175 M|
|Total Kills 49 VC|