Identical Hospital Corpsman Twins
By Corpsman Ronald C. Mosbaugh
  2/1 Hotel Company 1966-1967


Email: [email protected]
Don and I started as womb mates in 1944. When we were born, everyone was surprise that mom had twins; the doctor was not expecting that. Mom had already had three sons, so now she had five! Dad was working at Douglas Aircraft in Los Angeles, CA. When WWII was over, soldiers coming home from the war got their old jobs back, so Dad lost his job. We moved back to Joplin, MO.

From birth, Don and I wore name bracelets and they were left on for months. At times, even our own family had problems telling us apart. For quite a while we had our own language, called twin speak. Only we were able to interpret each other. We still remember a few of those words.
Growing up Don and I had many similar experiences. We could write a book on that alone.  One day Don stumped his toe and went into the house with a bloody toe. Mom cleaned it up, put a band aid on it and told him not to get his foot dirty or take off the bandage. A little later I stumped my toe on the same foot, same toe and went into the house crying. Mom really got mad at me for disobeying her. I tried to tell her what had happened but she didn’t believe me. Later she called us in to supper and when she saw Don and me with identical bandages she really felt bad.

I was told that my parents had all of us boys taken to a photographer to get our pictures made. When my parents picked up the pictures, the photographer kept apologizing to them because he couldn’t find Don’s or my picture; he had them both but didn’t realize it. These pictures are shown below this paragraph.
In grade school, we always had to wear name tags; this was kind of dumb because we were always changing them! In the fourth grade we were separated into different classes. One day we changed classes and had them fooled until late in the afternoon. My teacher’s name was Ms. Thriston. Don called her Ms. Drink. We were busted!
We are still alike in so many ways; same height and weight; we have both been married twice and have two daughters. We graduated from college with the same major. We were both on athletic scholarships. We both like to read and write. Today Don enjoys writing on Prophecy for his Sunday school classes. I write about the Vietnam War. It’s kind of weird; I write about WAR and he writes about PEACE. Ha, I must be the bad twin.

We share the same DNA, religion, mannerisms, taste, hobbies and interest. Neither of us smoke, drink, or cuss. We both like blonds. My wife is a blond and his wife is a brunette. Let’s leave it at that. Ha

We have always had an uncanny ability to know what the other is thinking. I do believe in twin telepathy. Many people do not, but we have experienced it! I would like to get back to this topic later in the story.

It shocks me to no end that if he says there’s a movie he likes and I don’t. I feel like he’s violating the contract!

Through the years we have played several pranks on people. I’m going to mention three of them.

In High School we were playing basketball and I was making a lot of points. By half-time I had four fouls and Don only had two. We decided to change jerseys. We won by a small margin and I stayed in the game to the end. I believe the coach suspected it, but he never said anything. If a team was playing us man to man defense, one of us was always open because the opponent couldn’t tell us apart. I either had two defenders on me or two on him. The smart ones used the number on our jersey.

Another time our Commanding Officer from the Joplin Naval Reserve Center drove by Don’s house to take him to the airport. They were scheduled to fly to a medical conference in San Diego, CA. They both were to travel in full dress uniform. When he arrived at Don’s house I answered the door in shorts and T-shirt. He looked at me and stated “I told you we need to travel in uniform!” He was very upset to say the least. They were running late. I told him it would only take a few minutes to dress and get packed. At this point he was not a happy camper!  I left the room and 15 seconds later Don appeared in full dress uniform with baggage in hand. The Captain was flabbergasted! He couldn’t believe it. He kept saying, “how did you do that?” I then walked back in the room wearing my civilian attire and he realized he had been duped! He died laughing! Don told me that he told that story several times during the conference. I’m sure he still remembers it to this very day!

Another time Don and I took our two weeks annual active duty to Great Lakes, IL. We were both second class petty officer corpsman and dressed alike. We both had the same name tags. I was walking through the naval hospital when a LTJG stopped me and asked me where I got all of those service ribbons. I told him I just returned from Vietnam. I had five rows of ribbons and he only had one row. I think he was a little jealous.  Anyway, he had me follow him to the record office to check my DD-214. He said he was only doing his duty. I think he was very disappointed!

Two days later, Don was walking down the hall of the hospital. This same LTJG saw him and his two rows of ribbons. He said what’s going on here? Two days ago you had five rows of ribbons and today you have two! He told Don he could get into serious trouble for this action. Don told him it was his twin brother he had talked to a couple of days ago. The LTJG said he was not falling for that and took Don to the record office where he found out Don was telling the truth. He got a big laugh from this event. This same thing has happened several times during our service. We both thoroughly enjoyed this one!

We were stationed at Oakland Naval Hospital together. After seven months Don was transferred to a ship in San Diego, Ca. One week-end I took a couple of corpsman friends and drove to Disneyland in Anaheim, CA. I walked into a Pendleton store at Disneyland and ran into Don! At first I thought I was looking into a mirror. We couldn’t believe it. We were stationed four hundred miles apart and thousands of people were there and we happen to be at the same place at the same time.  Neither one of us knew that the other was going to be there. That was uncanny! 

All of our lives we have experienced coincidences that get downright eerie. To this very day my phone can be ringing while I am calling him and he is calling me! It happens all the time! There is no doubt in my mind there is something psychic going on.

Many times when we are in a room together, I know what he is thinking. I can tell. I wouldn’t say its reading his mind; it’s more reading his face. I know him so well. He can do the same to me. Many times he will be talking and I can finish the sentence.

In 1966 I was attached to Second Battalion First Marines Division as a field corpsman. A month later Don had arrived in Okinawa and was pulled from the plane because I was already in Vietnam. Due to the Sullivan Act, we could not serve in a war zone at the same time. He was sent to Counter Guerrilla Warfare School at Northern Training Area (NTA) to be an Instructor to the marines going to Vietnam. He instructed several classes a day in Combat First Aid and Survival in Vietnam. The classes consisted of over one hundred marines per class. He was also attached to the First Marine Division.

I received a letter from Don stating something very weird happened to him on the 18th of May 1967. In the letter he said that while he was teaching a class he developed a sudden sharp pain in his right arm. He said he immediately thought of me and knew something had happened! He said he had a difficult time finishing his lecture. When he got back to his tent he wrote me a letter informing me of his premonition. 

Now what I am about to say sounds like something from an Alfred Hitchcock movie. I did get hit by shrapnel on this very day and on the right lower arm!  Why he got the premonition that something terrible happened to me is unexplainable. We were 1,500 miles apart!  But it happened.  

The wound I received was my third wound. With three purple hearts you either go home or to Okinawa. If I left country, they would be sending Don to combat and that was the last thing I wanted! A causality card was not written as I kept it pretty much to myself. One of the other corpsman dug a piece of shrapnel out and sutured the wound. To this very day I remind Don that he owes me big time!

We both joined the USNR together in February 1962 as Corpsman and made rate about the same times. We ended up as (E-9) Master Chiefs a year apart. We both served as Command Master Chief two different weekends per month. This was confusing for several of our sailors. We both retired together 31 years later at the same Navy Reserve Center where we enlisted. People had a lot of trouble telling us apart. We were identical twins with the same body fat and wearing the same uniform. Our name tags were only one letter different; HMCM D. MOSBAUGH and HMCM R. MOSBAUGH.
We were told that we were the only twin master chief corpsmen in the United States Navy.

Semper Fi,
HMCM Doc Mosbaugh
USNR Retired