Visiting POW/MIA#039;s family in Oklahoma

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 28, 2003

The song is America The Beautiful! The fact is: America The Enormous! I recently retraced my tracks of 40 years ago traveling to Thomas, Okla. In 1963, my flight school classmate Henry Lee "Hank" Mosburg invited me to his farm home on the open plains near rural Thomas. We were just finishing helicopter pilot training at Fort Wolters, Mineral Wells, Texas. The thing that I remember most about that 1963 visit was talking to Hank's elderly grandmother. She told of Indians surrounding their house when she was a little girl as she served hot biscuits at the dinner table. I was fascinated.

In July 2003 I returned to Thomasa. Hank was not there. His helicopter was shot down in Vietnam on September 26, 1966, exactly 60 days after he arrived in Vietnam. His body was never recovered so he is MIA/POW. He and his wife Elaine had one daughter and another on the way when Hank went missing in action. I met for the first time his youngest daughter Audra, her husband Keith and their two young children – two beautiful little girls. Audra was born four months after her dad's helicopter went down in ten feet of water either in the Mekong River or the South China Sea, Vietnam.


looks a lot like her dad, and she has his Will Rogers sense of humor. She adores, understands and loves horses. The fact that both her daughters ages four and two ride alone attests to that fact.

While in Thomas, I visited Bob Decker, a relative of Hank's who is about my age or maybe a few years older. Sitting in a swing in his front yard I was taken by the enormous size of the ranches and farms in his area. The land is flat, and you can see for miles. In my mind's eye I could see buffalo by the thousands grazing leisurely while being eyed by Indians who used every ounce of a killed buffalo. There is evidence that they were there in the past, as well as the U. S. Cavalry. Bob has a massive collection of Indian artifacts including arrowheads and chisels; he even has metal stakes he found on his ranch which were driven into the ground by cavalrymen who tied their horses to the hole on the end of the stake.

All is not well in Oklahoma however. They have not had rain in seven months. While I was there the humidity was low, but the hot wind from the south blew non-stop at about twenty five to thirty miles per hour. The land was parched.

Hank Mosburg and his native State of Oklahoma are what America is all about. Giants they are- both!