Many years have now passed since I retired from active Duty in the USAF. Fifty plus years have now passed since I first started working Sentry Dogs with a group of guys in the Philippine Islands. During past Vietnam Dog Handler Association and Vietnam Security Police Association reunions I have been privileged to meet fellow handlers from U-Tapao and some my Basic Training Students.
Enlisted August 15th 1962 : Retired October 1st 1982 20 Years and 45 Days Service
Lackland AFB : 3708 BMTS Basic Training
Lackland AFB : Air Police Technical School
Clark AFB : Republic of The Philippines - 405th AP Sqdn - Security/K9 Handler
Wiesbaden AFB : Wiesbaden Germany -7100th AP Sqdn - LE Patrol/K9 Handler / Assistant Kennel Master
Lackland AFB : Sentry Dog School - Sentry Dog Handler Instructor
Lackland AFB : 3708 BMTS - Basic Military Training Instructor
Lackland AFB : 3728 BMTS - Basic Military Training Instructor
Lackland AFB : SP Technical School Instructor - Barracks Dorm Daddy / Phase 2 Basic Military Instructor
U-Tapao RTNAB - U-tapao Thailand: 635th SPS - Training NCO / Night K-9 Supervisor
Lackland AFB : Detachment 37, DOD Dog Center - NCOIC Kennel Maintenance / Assistant Kennel Master
Lackland AFB/Camp Bullis Texas : Air Base Ground Defense Instructor / Course Chief
Francis E. Warren AFB : Cheyenne WY - Superintendent Base Security - Weapons Storage Area
3708 BMTS / 3275th Technical School (AP) San Antonio, Texas Aug 1962 - Nov 1962
I arrived for Basic Training and was met by instructors: TSgt Prescott/A1C Ford at approx 0230 Hrs in the morning. Basic Training and Tech School were as we all remember it. I was appointed Flight Chief in Basic and Tech School ( A job that I held for the entire time in Basic & Tech School Training). I departed Lackland just before Thanksgiving on leave en route to my first overseas duty assignment as a 77130 Basic Air Policeman.
405th Air Police Squadron Republic of Philippines 19 Dec 1962 - 15 July 1964
I arrived at Clark just before Christmas 1962. I with a few others enjoyed the Airmen’s Club with 10-cent Happy Hour Drinks. Note: $2.40 will fill a chow hall tray with 24 drinks. Needless to say, we DID NOT eat too much of the Chow Hall Christmas Dinner that year. I called for "Ralph and sold Buicks" just from looking at it. I was assigned to D Flight Security: Becoming a "RAMP RAT" working the usual flight line jobs: perimeter, entry control points and towers in weapons storage areas. I could see the kennels from my barracks and decided to visit them as "I always had and liked dogs". After a few visits, I applied for K9 duty and after passing qualifications "Being liked by other handlers", I was accepted and transferred from flight line security to K9 (boonie duties). June 1963, I started as an OJT-B Handler and was introduced to my "First K9: SHADOW 170F". We immediately hit it off, he accepting me and let me follow him on my end of the leash through out our tour of duty. We worked many a night in the rain, cold winters, hot summers, and typhoons over the next approx 18 months. I guess I got lucky, as he never bit me even though he bit many others. He was the best "Muzzle Biter" in the kennels; sneaky little bastard! Don’t care how you put it on or what type it was, he always found a way to bite. Other handlers hated to catch him during off leash muzzle attacks. He hated snakes with a passion, and I always knew when he found one: I would have four feet in my chest as he led me the other way. That is except for one time while on special stake out in hills above the school, "HE Let a Cobra crawl up into my field jacket" laying beside me. I think what ever is left of the jacket is still there. We had the distinction of breaking up one of the largest theft rings in the history of Clark AFB while working in the Main Base Supply Area. Both of us received our 1st Commendation Awards. These 18 months were my "K9 Hey Days” as a young 19 year old away from home and on my own, working, drinking, chasing of the bar girls in Angeles City and Manila with a bunch of guys that I will never forget. I regret that I have only been able to make contact with only two of them: Carl Homer (Asst Kennel Master) and A1C Young (both at Lackland AFB) in 1966 and one other who went to Germany with me Carl Denham. Recently I have had contact with a young lady Lisa JaczkoBolton who is the daughter of John Jaczko (New Jersey) and the niece of Carl Difino (Ohio). And I have been contacted by Ray Aalaard who has relayed information on A2c Raymond Russell (Montana).Talked to Ray this morning and he is going to try and find some pictures. I am awaiting contact with Jaczko and Difino. I have yet to find any of these handlers that I have shared so many memories with: A1C Rex Finley (K9 Flight Chief), A2c Teddy Spurlock - Harlen Tenn, A2c Hagen, A2c Miller, A2c Getz, A2c Peoples, A2c Ralph Kerfoot, A3c Caloi Bradford, A3c Edward Gates. Maybe time will allow me to find some of them. Vietnam was going on at this time and we were sending troops from Clark to Vietnam on short 120 days TDY (Dog Handlers were not allowed to go until 1965/66). Many days I watched cargo planes arrive from Nam with what they said was "Non Combat Casualties". As we all know now: NOT - too many of them!!!!
"MY K9 HEART AND SOUL LIES AT THE BOTTOM OF A GRAVE WITH SHADOW 170F".
Shadow was euthanized February 1967 while assigned to Amn Hawkinson, 636th Security Police Sqdrn. Shadow was a veteran out of Oak Lawns Illinois enlisting 5 Feb 1962
7100th Air Police Squadron, Wiesbaden AFB Wiesbaden Germany 16 July 1964 - 24 August 1966
Upon my arrival I was assigned to A Flight Law Enforcement, as there was no K9 unit at this time. I worked town patrol, radio operator out of Lindsey Air Station, and Gate Guard at both Lindsey A.S. and Wiesbaden AFB, and as Desk Sgt Wiesbaden AFB. Early 1965, it was decided that a K9 Law Enforcement Unit would be established at Wiesbaden. Carlyle B. Whitman was selected as Kennel Master and I was selected as Asst Kennel Master as well as handler along with Vincent Burns, Donald Connors, Raymond Johnson and Carl Denham (Clark AFB). Here I was introduced to PRINCE 323H. What was unique about this operation was that we jointly housed our dogs with the USAFE Sentry Dog School at the Hindenburg Kaserne in the Biebrich suburb of Wiesbaden. As I was not formally trained, I now got to enjoy the experience of going to "Dog School" and upon graduation, was formally awarded the "A suffix". Here I got to know many of the instructors (John Gordon, Glenn Hewitt, Donald Hull), as we served as Kennel CQ's over the German CSU attendants. Upon their suggestion and recommendations, I applied for and was accepted as an Instructor at Lackland AFB Texas. Have just received contact message from Benjamin Wilson, a handler assigned to K9 Section mid 1965. Hoping to hear more from him as time goes by.
He was euthanized 14 Oct 1968 due to a tumor while assigned to 40th TAC Group APO 09293.He was a veteran out of Company "C" 17th Sig. Battalion APO 164 enlisting 10 June 1964.
3275th Technical School Sentry Dog School, Lackland AFB San Antonio TX, Sept 1966 - OCT 1969
Upon my arrival, I was sent to my first instructor school and graduated 6 Dec 1966 as an Instructor Qualified Dog Handler T77150A. Here I was reunited with now TSgt Carl Homer (Asst Kennel Master Clark AFB) and went to work for him. I trained Sentry Dogs and Handlers. We started at the Kennels on Lackland AFB (Basic Obedience) and then moved to Medina AFB (Scouting & Attack). We later opened and used Medina for all housing of dogs and training functions. August of 1968, Class #12068, I had a student by the name of Bill Cummings and his dog Duke. Many, many, years later, I would receive an E-Mail from a Bill Cummings wanting to know about a dog named Duke. I guess I could say that everything he wanted to know about dogs was taught to him by me (Heee Heee). Small world is'n it Bill?. I have a Class Picture of every class that I worked with and have compiled the names and dogs into an Excel File. I am in contact with two of my fellow instructors, Carl Homer and Jared "Pops" Gildart (Camp Woods TX). I gave up my single life at the Dog School in Dec 1966 when I married a Texas Girl - more later. Made SSgt here in 1967. Have since made contact with Vince DeGuilio and Mike Clunis (Mike went on to Scout Dogs for Safeside) - from Class #02108, Amn Davis and SA Cornelius Class #23087, Gary Warlen Class#07088 (Deceased 2005)
3708 BMTS & 3728 BMTS, Lackland AFB, San Antonio Texas Oct 1969 - Feb 1972
I was transferred along with several of my fellow instructors from the Dog School to Basic Military Training to fill several vacancies resulting from buildup in Vietnam. I spent the next three years turning individuals from civilian life into qualified airman. Upon arrival in the BMTS School, I was again assigned to Instructor School (2nd Time) and upon graduation was posted to 3708 BMTS. I opened the new multi story training barracks used by 3708 BMTS. After approx one (1) year as a Basic Instructor and based upon prior K9 Instructor Duties, I was awarded the Master Instructors Badge. It allowed me to be evaluated only once a year instead of every three months. While in these duties, the AFSC was changed from Air Police T77150A to Security Police T81170A.
3275th Security Police Tech School: Barracks Dorm Instructor Lackland AFB San Antonio, Texas Feb 1972 to Oct 1972
Here I took care of all barracks and military problems for the troops along with conducting Phase 2 BMT. Mostly, I kept and housed personal pets of theirs at my house: At one time, I had over 30 dogs, some cats and rabbits. Here I received orders to report back overseas for the third time: 635th SPS K9 Section. I served "coffee" out of my bottom right hand desk drawer to my friends
635th SPS : K9 U-Tapao Thailand RTNAFB Nov 1972 - May 1973
I arrived in country and replaced a fellow Lackland Instructor: Johnny Babino. After processing, I was introduced to MSgt Crutchfield and was assigned duties as K9 Night Supervisor/Training NCO. Here at UT, I ran into quite a few ex basic students working in other career fields and ex dog school students. As related in story on U-Tapao website I was off to a wild start. Here however, my story and memories of U-Tapao will be different from most of yours. I was 29 when I arrived in 1972 as a SSgt and was 30 when I left in 1973. I was first assigned to third floor of K9 barracks where I stayed a short visit. I saw Cate's (?Spelling) black light room and all of the indicators of drug usage. Here I got to know Sgt's "JoJo" White, Rudy Camacho, Mark Bradford and others who’s names I have tried and strongly wish to remember over the years. As a supervisor and part of the "Overhead", I did not hang out that much with the troops in their drinking parties and trips to town. Some troops stayed distant due to my Instructor past and dislike of dope users (A No See or Smell policy and I would not bother you). Shortly thereafter, I was moved to bottom floor of the other barracks (NCO Section) and then out to the huts where I had my own section (half). I stayed here for the remained of my tour. My job was to train and SUPPORT all of my troops while off post and on post. I responded to all calls of assistance on alerts and walked the grass beside you in the night completely trusting YOU & YOUR DOG with our safety. I spent time on post during checks talking with you about your home life, problems, and feelings about being in Thailand. Some what like a missing "Daddy" and I hope that somewhere there or later in life, what little advise given or just plain listening to your gripes and complaints has helped make you a better person. On my only New Years Eve there (after the 18 day bombing campaign), I delivered coffee with cream (86 proof bourbon) or coffee without cream (86 proof bourbon) to all posts. I stopped on one post and ushered in the New Years with him listening to his problems. I wish to this day that I could remember his name as I had spent many a night listening and talking with him. At the stroke of midnight, He & I burned off all the flares we had (many others did the same) and lighted up our section of the base. My tour was shorter than most by a few months, as the wife was having great difficulties with our four children at home. They were very much "daddies babies" and were not adjusting to me being gone. They would attempt to jump out windows and come looking for me. I was ordered home on an emergency leave to talk to doctors about the problems. Discussions about Humanitarian Re-Assignment took place and I returned to UTapao. At this point, I was assigned to take care of and handle THOR S497, a drug dog. I worked very little with him, mainly inspecting Navy P3 Radar Pickett Planes. A lot of dope traffic on these birds. April of 1973 found me with orders sending me home on the Humanitarian. These came as a surprise as they had been turned down once before. Found out later that the Doctor raised Holy Hell with Personnel at Randolph. I cleared my own plane and everybody’s luggage with THOR and gave him to a handler to take back to the Kennels. Thus I boarded the plane before anyone else, chose a very good seat and departed. It was many years later that an Email arrived from a Bill Cummings, and I am extremely pleased at how it has turned out: Many, many handlers found and reunited to share fond memories along with dogs to be remembered. It is the Largest Thailand Site I believe with names of handlers and dogs posted. With the little part that I had to play in some lives at U-Tapao, I take great joy in reading the names and viewing the Web Site. My memories are smaller than most, but just as important to me as yours are to you. In Oct 2002 we had a great VDHA Reunion in St Louis MO with 45 handlers and wives present.
Thor was euthanized at the age of 11 years and died in the arms of Sgt Gary Adams U-Tapao RTNAB. He was a good dog
Detachment 37, DOD Dog Center, Lackland AFB Texas May 1973 - June 1975
Upon my arrival back at Lackland, my wife and kids were very happy that daddy was home. I was assigned to work as NCOIC Kennel Maintenance and as Asst Kennel Master. Here I worked with a SSgt Joe Balboa don't know that he was the same Sgt Joe Balboa from early U-Tapao days that some of you know. Bill, here Jimmie Thornton worked for me as a kennel attendant. Also worked with Dale Weaverling (Cowboy) who ran the horse buggies in downtown San Antonio for many years. Went on several dog buying trips around the country procuring dogs for military use. Got hooked into CB radios at this point and later got my ham license, even though I have never upgraded it. It was a quiet assignment, repairing kennels and getting dogs ready for class, shipping some overseas and enjoying the companionship of many other military families. Commander was Capt Douglas Greathouse Received my 1st Air Force Commendation of many here for service as 635th SPS K9 (Night Supervisor) UTapao Thailand.
3275th Technical School, Air Base Ground Defense Camp Bullis San Antonio TX June 1975 - Dec 1979
I started out teaching all who came through Bullis on the fine art of using the "Pig Gun" (M60 machine gun). There were some long days and nights on the firing range with approx 250 students each firing 200 rounds. I usually started each classes range day with a fire demo shooting it from hip, shoulder and CHIN to show them that it did not "kick like a mule". Lost some hearing here. My team chief was TSgt Julius Jackson. From there I moved on to the Compass Course and taught map reading and Compass use. In between course teachings, five (5) other instructors and I re-wrote the entire course training material: Concept, Plans of Instruction, and Lesson Plans. From there I moved to teaching the Officers Base Defense Course. After which I moved into the Patrolling/Night Exercise. At the end, I was made Course Chief where I supervised all training instructors and was responsible for the student body. Worked with Jack Drysdale and Ben Wolfe. "JoJo" White and I were re acquainted at Bullis with his arrival as an instructor. We spent a few drunken nights and sick days catching up on things. As the need for Air Base Defense training closed down and with the sending of troops to the Army for the training, about 20 + of us where sent to northern tier bases for middle level management positions. I received orders for Francis E. Warren AFB, Cheyenne Wyoming. Bullis was fun with lots of "Haircut Beer Parties at the BX, good companions leaving many fond memories. Made TSgt at Bullis end of 1975. Received 1st Oak Leaf Cluster to AF Commendation for services at Det 37 DOD Dog Center. While at Bullis I was a member of the SPECS Heavy Weapons Deployment Team. Specialized in the 81MM Mortar and FDC (Fire Direction Control). Deployed on a few exercises into the swamps of Florida.
A&D Flight Team Chief and Base Security Superintendent Francis E. Warren AFB (SAC), Cheyenne Wy. Jan 1980 - Oct 1982
Here at FE Warren, my military career was coming to an end. I still carried the T81170A but was never able to get re-assigned back into the dog sections. I arrived as the ranking TSgt in the 90th SPS Group (could not quiet believe it) and was immediately transferred from Camper Duty 88th MMS to 90th SPS. Here I was told that I would be taking over the job of Base Security Superintendent, replacing the out going MSgt. I had to make MSgt to keep it and while waiting for the out going MSgt to leave, I worked D Flight Security WSA to become familiar with area and job. After familiarization, I was assigned to the Permanent Day Shift Flight WSA where I studied and made MSGT. Soon, I took up the job as Base Security Superintendent and worked it until Oct 1, 1982 when I retired. I was happy to give up the base security briefings, ORI's, DOD Nuclear Inspections and middle of the Night phone calls. Am proud to say that my WSA won Best in 15th AF Twice, Best in Sac, and Best in AF along with the 90th Group. They were a bunch of hard working troops and justly deserved their Outstanding Unit Award. Here I was reacquainted with Mark Bradford (U-Tapao) and even ended up working for his father-in-law at the sheriff’s department.
Laramie County Sheriff Dept Cheyenne WY – Nov 1982 – January 2004 & March 2005 – June 2010
After my discharge and the weight of the world was removed from my shoulders (as the wife said - I became Human again), I went to work for the Laramie County Sheriff's Department. I served there for 21 years and retired Jan 1, 2004. I was asked to come back and do part time (5hrs a day for 2-3 days a week) Court Security / Disciplinary Hearing Officer in March 0f 2005 and left again in 2010. I have been suspended - promoted - demoted - and promoted again and its all been interesting. Worked for some good sheriffs and bad sheriffs, same as Commander’s in the military.
Married a Texas Girl (Sharron) on 27 Dec 1966 after seven days of knowing her:
More of a K9 Handler than me over the years. She had been known to enter kennels at Lackland that many others feared to tread and played with the "Bad Ass" dog. We have always had dogs in our lives and I know that she loves them more than me: I go before the dogs do!!!!! We had Cocker Spaniels, German Shepard’s, Irish Setters, Bassett Hounds, 100% Oklahoma Pound Puppies (Sooner something than the Other), Newfoundland, Dobermans. . We have (four) children and thirteen (13) grandchildren, six (6) great-grand children .
I am deeply into the Masonic Bodies Family: Blue Lodge, OES, Consistory, Shrine and its many off shoot bodies. I have been a Past Master of my Lodge Cheyenne 1, Past Patron of my Eastern Star Chapter Oakleaf 6. Past Associate Bethel Guardian Jobs Daughters Bethels 8 & 42, Past Director of the Board for my Cheyenne Shrine Club and Past Commander (Colonel) for my Uniform Body: Korein Legion Of Honor. This Unit is made up of ONLY past military members of any branch of service. I receive great pleasure in little children’s smile as they learn how to walk again and heal from terrible burns. Currently a member of Tucker Lodge 297 and El Mina Shrine Temple in Galveston Texas. Belong to Model T Club and Legion Of Honor.
I joined the VFW while living in Cheyenne Wyoming April 2003 Post 4657 Pine Bluffs Wyoming. Transferred to Post 880 April 2006 and served as Quartermaster 2015 to 2017.
All in all, it has been a very good and satisfying life with my family, friends and all of the handlers and their dogs that I have known:
Many memories - Good times, Bad times, Happy times or Sad times
Tears may be shed by you when you remember the affection and love given to YOU by that 4 legged friend with its joyful wag of the tail and the lick of his/her tongue
But always memories to be cherished!!
Thanks for stopping by and having this little chat
Honored at Astros Game 9-20-17