By John Frazier

In the Beginning

Every high school class has its outstanding students – the class valedictorian, the star athlete, the naturally-born leader, the popular one, the most likely to succeed, as well as many other fine traits and characteristics. Usually there is one of each, but very rarely do we see one person who displays all of these characteristics. Milan “Mo” Mosny was one such person; he had it all and did it all.

Most parents desire what’s best for their children. They want to provide them with a great deal of love and attention, the finest education, living in a nice neighborhood with an abundance of security both in and outside the home, where meaningful lifetime relationships can be developed with other children in the neighborhood. One of the primary factors when purchasing a home is checking the capability and performance of that district’s school system. We also want to make sure that our children are interested in extra-curricular activities, so they become well-rounded citizens as adults. As parents, we do what we can to provide our children with every opportunity that we can for their growth.

It stands to reason that if parents are doing that, they expect their children to live up to their end: to do their best at whatever they’re doing. Whether it’s getting an education, playing a sport, involvement in an extra-curricular activity, parents are hoping to pique the interest of their child in something, and hope that he or she will excel at it.

Mo’s family life wasn’t like that. His circumstances were “less than desirable” when growing up. They lived in what was known as “The Beehive Apartments” on Diamond St. His parent’s use of alcohol was a prominent part of the development of the Mosny children. Life is all about choices, good and bad, and the Mosny children chose to work hard for a better life. He and his five brothers spent a great deal of time at the local YMCA, becoming “the pride of Little Falls” for their prowess on the basketball court. The Jan. 27, 1977 Little Falls Evening Times stated, “High school basketball is alive and well in Little Falls. However, it doesn’t seem the same without the late, great coach Wilbur Crisp on the bench and a Mosny in the lineup.”

Mo (or Sodder Mose, as he was also called) was born on Dec. 5, 1926 to John (1900 – 1974) and Kristina Mizerak Mosny (1906 – 1967). He grew up on Diamond St. in Little Falls with his siblings John, Jr. (1924 – 2004), Olga Mosny Allocca (1931 – 2021), Martin (1933 – 2004), Edward (1937 – 1940), Paul (1939 – 2012), and Daniel (1942 – 2015). Many “long-timers” will remember Mo’s brother Paul, who played on the sensational teams in the late 50’s that were led by Bob McCully and coached by Coach Crisp. We also may recall his brother John, who had a successful career as basketball coach at St. Mary’s Academy, where despite the classes being small in number, his teams were always competitive and well-coached.

During his senior year at Little Falls High School in 1945, Mo earned an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point, and upon graduation as valedictorian of his class with a GPA of 96.29, he became a member of the USMA Class of ’49.

He went out for basketball at West Point but was discouraged when, at 5’9”, he was told he was too small to be able to compete at the college level. The next year, he played on the B-Squad, earning a monogram. Second class year, he started on the B-Squad, but two weeks later was promoted to the A-Squad. He was the team captain and the highest scorer on the team for the next two years, as well as having the highest free throw and field goal percentages on the team for both years, earning two major “A’s.” He also played varsity baseball and ran cross-country. Mo was normally quiet, but on the court he was a tiger. Academically, he was in the upper third of the class and earned the Modern Language prize in French.

Following his graduation from West Point, Milan reported to Perrin AFB, in Sherman, TX in August 1949 for Basic Pilot Training and jet flight training. After excelling at training exercises, Mo became a flight instructor at Perrin, and also at bases in Georgia and Florida. A year later, he was assigned to Williams AFB, in Chandler, AZ, for advanced training on the F86D fighter, followed by an assignment to Korea. Mo doing considerable flying in Korea, in accordance with the United Nations Command’s policy of maintaining constant combat readiness at all times. Remember, this was a time just prior to the Korean Conflict, when tensions were palpable. Mo had found his calling!

Classmates used to fly cross-country to other bases to build up flight time, as well as increase bonding with classmates at other bases. During those visits, they rarely met up with Mosny, as he was usually flying. They found that he was logging an incredible number of hours, far more than most of them.

After Korea, Cpt. Mosny was reassigned to the 5th Air Force, 35th Fighter-Interceptor Group in Yokota Air Base, Japan, where he served on the group staff. He had become a motivated, skillful, and dedicated officer with a great career ahead, but it was not to be.

The End

The evening of 6 Jan 1955, Mosny was on a night intercept training exercise. He and his co-pilot, 2nd Lt. William O. Edwards of Beaucoup, IL were flying a T-33 Jet Training Aircraft, acting as the target for an F-86D, piloted by 2nd Lt. Kenneth E. Heeter of Emlenton, PA. Both planes were under radar control, under the direction of the normal air defense system in Japan. Three successful intercepts had been completed before the final run. At approximately 10:00 pm, the two aircraft collided in the air at 25,000 feet. The Air Force’s accident report stated that, “The controller then vectored the two aircraft to new headings for spacing for another intercept. The T-33 was told to make a port turn of 270 degrees and the F-86D was told to make a port turn of 360 degrees. It is possible T-33, flown by Capt. Mosny and Lt. Edwards, acknowledged the new vector, but it is certain that the F-86D did not.” Lt. Heeter turned starboard rather than port, which caused him to cross the path of Cpt. Mosny’s T-33. All three airmen were killed.

Mo’s post-mortem medical report stated:
“Captain Mosny apparently cleared the aircraft by ejection or explosion. During descent, it is possible that the Mae West may have fully inflated. The fully inflated vest under a fastened harness may have restricted free movement and respiration enough to hamper sur-vival }[sic] procedures.

Col. Maurice Martin, Cpt. Mosny’s commanding officer wrote to Mo’s father, and in the letter stated:
“Dear Mr. Mosny – It is with the greatest sorrow that I offer to you and John Jr., the heartfelt sympathy of our whole group in this hour of your grief. ‘Mo’ was a member of my staff, valuable, well liked and respected.

There is so very little that can be done from this distance. However, realizing that you will want to know all the details that are available, I will try to depict for you the events of last night. ‘Mo’ was scheduled for a night mission in a T-33 jet training aircraft with Lt. Edwards. The T-33 was to be the target aircraft for an F-86D intercept training mission. Both planes were under radar control and under the direction of the normal air defense system in Japan. At approximately 10 p.m., the two aircraft collided in the air at 25,000 feet. Although ‘Mo’ was injured in the collision, he did get out and open his parachute. Our medical officer feels that he lost consciousness immediately after opening his parachute. We found ‘Mo’ this morning just off shore, near the scene of the accident, still in his parachute. Search operations were started immediately after the accident with one B-29, two seaplanes, one helicopter, two Air Force crash boats, and two U.S. Navy vessels, and Japanese vessels.

The details of exactly what happened will probably remain unknown. However, from the radar observations and radio transmissions that were made, we can re-construct many of the details. Three successful intercepts had been completed at the time of this run. ‘Mo’and Lt. Edwards flying in the T-33 were on a track of 320 degrees at an air speed of 250 knots. Lt. Heeter, in the F-86D had been positioned some 15 miles to the northeast for his intercept. Lt. Heeter made his initial radar contact with the T-33 at about 13 miles and was in constant radar contact during the intercept, which was made on a track of 240 degrees at an airspeed of 350 knots. Both aircraft were working at 25,000 feet. Lt. Heeter made a radio call indicating termination of the attack at which time the ground controller gave each aircraft new instruction [sic]. There was no reply to these instructions, and radar contact was lost. I feel that there are two possibilities; one, a collision during the actual intercept, and two, a collision during the turn to the new tracks given by the ground controller. I personally do not know which happened, or which to think happened. The odds against either occurring are terrific. There is no indication of pilot error and certainly none on the part of ‘Mo’. The accident occurred just east of Tokyo over the bay. The attached diagrams may help in visualizing what happened.”

Unfortunately, because the diagrams are reproduced from Air Force microfiche, they aren’t very clear.

‘Mo’s equipment and personal belongings are being cared for according to our regulations. You will be advised very shortly concerning them.

‘Mo’ was one of the most promising young officers I have known. His Academy background and his flying ability were great assets, but were secondary to the man he was. Mo was a favorite both in the squadrons and in the group, and always was actively engaged in his spare time. He was a member of the base basketball team and the group bowling team, and a handball enthusiast as well.

In another communication, Col. Martin stated that, “Capt. Mosny was a member of my staff, valuable, well liked, and respected. Our personal sense of loss is deep. He was a good personal friend.”

A classmate stated, “It would have been a joy to have had him continue as a brethren pilot, something we all felt. Nobody warned us of the rather high accident-wash out ratio and the dangers of the military pilot-not that it would have made any difference, though.”

His parents; five brothers John, Marty, Albie, Paul, and Dan; and a sister, Olga, survived him.

Capt. Mosny’s funeral arrangements were made by the Shepardson Funeral Home of Little Falls, and the funeral services were conducted by Rev. J. Harold Thomson, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church. In his eulogy, Rev. Thomson recalled Mo had stated in his valedictory address just 10 years prior that, “…he and his fellow students were going out into an uncertain world, that they would meet many challenges that they would continue to learn.” Rev. Thomson continued, saying, “He met the challenge, prepared himself, and kept learning. The poem “High Flight” and other verses appropriate to the occasion were read by Rev. Thomson.

Oscar Seip, Commander, Edward Carpinetti, Jr., Charles Riley, Richard Schofield, Leo McEvoy, and George LaQue, all members of Little Falls American Legion Post 31, were bearers. Airmen from Griffiss Air Force Base in Rome, NY composed the color guard, firing squad, and the bugler.

Capt. Mosny was buried in Church St. Cemetery. The American flag covering the casket was folded by Commander Seip and George LaQue, and then presented to Mo’s father, John by Commander Seip.

It’s always a tragic loss when someone dies in defense of our country. The sadness of Capt. Mosny enveloped the entire city. His loss drives home the point that freedom comes at a huge cost.

I would like to express my appreciation to Gail Potter and Dave Krutz, without whose help I could not have written this article.

John Frazier is a member of the Little Falls Historical Society.