Walter Harold Mosley

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Walter Harold Mosley (born 17 January 1916 in Waco, Texas), was an American World War II fighter pilot.

Navy career[edit]

Mosley enlisted in the Navy 12 February 1940. Appointed an aviation cadet 21 June 1940, he completed flight training at Pensacola, Florida, and was commissioned ensign 11 March 1941.

Assigned to Patrol Squadron 22, he was based at Ford Field during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor 7 December. In January 1942 he flew with his squadron to Darwin, Australia, to support the Allied attempt to halt the Japanese advance through Southeast Asia. Based on USS William B. Preston (AVD-7), Mosley flew patrols north of Australia into the Java Sea and surrounding waters plotting the movements of the Japanese.

As copilot of a PBY-5, he departed for a patrol south of Amboina, Moluccas, 19 February. With Lt. Thomas H. Moorer (later admiral and Chief of Naval Operations) as pilot, the patrol plane spotted a merchant ship off Melville Island, Australia, and turned to investigate. About 0920, nine Japanese fighters, part of a 70 plane force en route to bomb Darwin, Australia, jumped the PBY. Soon the plane was in flames, its port engine out and fuel streaming along the fuselage. Despite the attacking fighters, Lieutenant Moorer and Ensign Mosley skillfully landed the plane. In Lieutenant Moorer’s words, Mosley assisted by handling the throttle “although dazed and bleeding profusely from a wound in the head.”

SS Florence D., an American merchant ship carrying ammunition to the Philippines, rescued the crew. Later that day, Japanese carrier planes attacked the unarmed ship with 500 pound bombs. Survivors, including Mosley, made Bathurst Island in two lifeboats about midnight, and a RAAF patrol plane spotted them on the 21st. The next morning, HMAS Warrnambool (J202), an Australian subchaser, rescued them and carried them to Darwin 23 February.

Early in March Mosley returned to the United States where he joined VP 44 for operations out of Pearl Harbor. Late in May he flew search patrols out of Midway Island in anticipation of an enemy attack. During the first air attack against the island 4 June Mosley was serving as copilot in 44-P-12. His patrolling PBY-5A was attacked by two Japanese seaplanes, and the bomber was shot down in flames.

Awarded the Silver Star[edit]

Ensign Mosley was posthumously awarded the Silver Star for “extremely gallant and intrepid conduct” during the air action 19 February 1942.


Mosley (DE-321) was named in his honor. The ship was laid down by Consolidated Steel Corp., Orange, Texas, 6 April 1943; launched 26 June 1943; by Mrs. A. G. Mosley; and commissioned at Orange 30 October 1943, Lt. Comdr. James A. Alger, Jr., USCG, in command.

See also[edit]


This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.