Major Moses “Mo” L Alves was born November 23, 1934 in Papizios, Portugal and died October 11, 1969 when his AC- 119G Shadow crashed during takeoff on a combat mission after losing one of the recip engines immediately after liftoff near Gia Dinh at Tan Son Nhut Air Base, South Vietnam.
Known by his friends as “Mo” or “Major Mo”, he was a 12-year Air Force careerist who was commissioned and entered the Air Force through the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute ROTC program on October 18, 1957, graduating with a degree in Aeronautical Engineering. Later in his career, he graduated from the Air Force Institute of Technology as an Aeronautical and Mechanical Engineer that began his assignment as an Air Force Development Engineer and the Minuteman Program Director for Re-Entry Systems, and he was to be reassigned in that role upon completion of that tour in Vietnam. Mo’s career also included assignments as a B-47 Navigator / Bombardier. He went to Vietnam and the 17th SOS as an AC-119G Shadow Navigator / Night Observation Scope (NOS) Operator on May 12, 1969.
When Major Mo was appointed as “Squadron Funding Officer” by Lt. Col. Buckley, he joked that he wanted to be called the “fun officer.” In this extra duty role, Mo was responsible for scrounging up both required and nice to have things for us, since we were a “tenant” organization on our bases and getting those was a challenge. His family remembers Mo’s pride and pleasure in being able to “secure” amenities like TVs, furniture, food, and beverages for our daily use in the Squadron Hootch as well as party supplies for our monthly informal gatherings. All of us gunshippers remember how important it was to have a place to let off steam, relax, enjoy some good food and drinks.
Coming from a family whose heritage includes emigrating from Portugal at age 3, and an older brother who was a World War II POW for five years, Major Mo’s legacy lives on in his children and grandchildren. In 2006, his granddaughter Taryn contacted several of us AC-119 guys to help on her senior year high school project. In her own words, “I attended the reunion in Florida a couple of years ago where I was introduced to a lot of wonderful, intriguing men and women who openly told me stories of my grandfather, Major Moses L Alves. This association helped me to know a little about the grandfather I regretfully never got to meet and I am now hoping that this association will help me in my endeavor to learn more about the men and women who served in Vietnam. If you are willing to share your experience with me please let me know via e-mail. Thank you to those men and women who opened their arms to me and my family at the reunion, it was a weekend that I will treasure and remember always.”
Doug Wohlgamuth was at that Reunion and visited Taryn and Kevin Alves for her project.