U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Benjamin Seekell and Charlie, his military working dog, were wounded in Afghanistan. They both survived and are now recovering. Thanks to some Vietnam dog handlers, Staff Sergeant Seekell was able to take his mind off of his recovery for a while and enjoyed watching a local police K9 unit demonstrate their capabilities in honor of them. Glad to see both Staff Sgt. Seekell and his dog Charlie will recover.
by Kevin Chandler
97th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs
7/8/2009 - ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. – Staff Sgt. James Hall, 97th Security Forces kennel master, and his military working dog, Endy, were recent recipients of the Oklahoma State Chamber of Commerce Champions of Freedom award.
The two were recognized, along with six other military members throughout the state, for heroic actions while deployed overseas.
heroes on patrol
Staff Sgt. James Hall, 97th Security Forces kennel master and military working dog Endy help a convoy during patrols in Afghanistan. While deployed, Sergeant Hall and Endy recovered more than 800 pounds of explosives and weapons and uncovered three pressure plate improvised explosive devices buried in major roadways. The Oklahoma State Chamber of Commerce recognized Sergeant Hall and Endy with the Champions of Freedom award in Oklahoma City, Okla June 30. (Courtesy photo)
From October 2008 to April 2009, Sergeant Hall and Endy were deployed to a forward operating location in Afghanistan. Attached to the 7th and 3rd Special Forces Groups, Sergeant Hall and Endy participated in over 25 combat operations, recovering over 800 pounds in weapons and explosives. They also discovered three buried pressure plate improvised explosive devices, enabling convoys to safely traverse the country.
“We were in harm’ s way almost 24/7,” Sergeant Hall said. While his seven years of experience as a K-9 handler prepared him for the demanding assignment, Sergeant Hall says his partner is the one reason he returned home safely.
“He (Endy) saved my life repeatedly,” Sergeant Hall explained, “I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for him.”
According to Sergeant Hall, the duo proved so effective during their deployment as a result of the rapport they developed in the months prior to leaving. Endy, who has been in the military working dog program since 2003, developed such a strong bond with Sergeant Hall that when one sensed danger the other was able to respond. Endy also went to nearby Fort Sill to train on flying in helicopters in preparation for the deployment.
While this was Endy’s first deployment, the kennel here usually deploys four dogs every year. The dogs are trained for security patrols, clearing buildings and detecting drugs and explosives. The kennel currently houses seven dogs, two trained in detecting drugs and five used to detect explosives. The handlers also train rigorously in skills needed for security forces and K-9 handlers. For example, all handlers must be certified in K-9 self aid buddy care. This training proved useful to Sergeant Hall and Endy.
“We were out in the field, far away from any base, when Endy got caught in constantine wire. I got him out of the wire but he was sliced up pretty bad and I had to sew up his wounds right there,” Sergeant Hall said.
One of the more demanding tasks Sergeant Hall encountered upon his arrival to Afghanistan was assimilating into a Total Force unit environment. The unit was largely comprised of Army personnel, requiring Sergeant Hall and his counterparts to adapt to one another to develop cohesion.
“I had to tell them my capabilities so we could lay out how we were going to work together,” he explained. “It took a while for them to get to know me, to know that I would have their back.” Ultimately, it was Endy who broke the ice between Sergeant Hall and the other members of the unit.
“When we found an IED, the walls came down,” Sergeant Hall said with a grin.
While he has received several awards for his actions in Afghanistan, including the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, the NATO Medal and the Army Combat Action Badge, Sergeant Hall said this award was something special.
“The state of Oklahoma really supports the military,” he said. “I believe everyone over there and here stateside deserves that kind of recognition.”
56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Story by Deborah silliman Wolfe
LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. – Luke Air Force Base 56th Security Forces Squadron members had a chance to share some of their military policing skills with members of the Kazakhstan Ministry of Defense and Arizona National Guard who visited here Monday.
“State National Guard Bureaus have coordinated with foreign nations in a state partnership program which was started at the end of the Cold War when the Soviet Union fell apart,” said Maj. Andrew Chilcoat, Air National Guard 162nd Fighter Wing bilateral affairs officer for the state partnership program who currently works in the U.S. Embassy in Astana, Kazakhstan. “Arizona has partnered with Kazakhstan for more than ten years. We usually do 20 events every year, bringing officers from Kazakhstan to Arizona, or taking ANG members to Kazakhstan.”
Capt. Bill Karlage, 856th Military Police Company AANG, Flagstaff, explained that because of limited assets at his detachment in Prescott, it was necessary to come to Luke to demonstrate some training that would be beneficial to the Kazakhstan visitors.
“One of my missions is law and order, but I do not have a lot of patrol cars,” he said. “I don’t have the dogs, and I don’t have the law and order proficiency for a traffic stop. We are more of a combat type mission focusing on area security, maneuverability, mobility operations and police intelligence in Iraq and Afghanistan. Here domestically, it is great to have a Defense Department installation such as Luke to bring their assets to this type of training.”
While many Luke security forces members frequently team with other services to perform “outside the wire” combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, the visit was an excellent opportunity to showcase security forces home station duties.
Tech. Sgt. Warren, 56th SFS non-commissioned officer in-charge of the military working dog section, headed up the effort at Luke to ensure the Kazakhstanis were able to see and participate in certain local training scenarios.
“We were happy to help,” he said. “This is the first time we’ve done this here and I’m very excited to share our experience.”
Warren, who recently served a year with the Army working with a provincial reconstruction team training Afghan police, escorted the visitors around base, starting with a brief at 56th SFS headquarters.
Col. Andre Curry, 56th Mission Support Group commander greeted the visitors. After Curry’s remarks, Maj. Michael Borders, 56th SFS commander, briefed the group and led a question and answer session after which the group headed to the kennels where the military dog handlers led the K-9s in demonstrating their skills. Following the kennel, the group practiced their baton skills and witnessed how Luke security forces would handle a high-risk traffic stop.
Members of the Kazakhstan ministry of defense appreciated their time at Luke.
“It is very important and very helpful, I think, for both sides,” Justice Col. Timur Dandebayev Kazakhstan ministry of defense, said. “For us it is very important because we learn something new from your experienced personnel, especially about the dog training and military police forces. There are lots of points which we can commonly use in cooperation and in terms of the partnership for peace missions.”
SOUTHWEST ASIA — The 380th Air Expeditionary Wing has a unique asset in the form of the only military working dog to be donated and trained outside of the Lackland Air Force Base military working dog training unit.
Haus, a German short-hair pointer, was donated to the Air Force Academy by American Legion George C. Evans Post #103 and was trained and certified by the Academy kennel master, Chris Jakubin.
Haus, a military working dog with the 380th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron, and his handler Staff Sgt. Zerrick Shanks, perform a random perimeter sweep at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia. Sgt. Shanks and Haus have been working together for about a year and are deployed from the Air Force Academy.
After making arrangements to donate a dog to the kennels in honor of Evans, representatives from the post took Mr. Jakubin to a dog farm in Denver, where he performed a series of tests to figure out which one would make the best detection dog.
“After they selected the dog, he was sent to Lackland Air Force Base to be trained,” said Staff Sgt. Zerrick Shanks, a 380th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron K-9 handler and Haus’ partner.
The Lackland unit decided that Haus could not be trained and returned him to the Air Force Academy where Mr. Jakubin used his 20-plus years of dog training experience to train and certify Haus in bomb-detection within two months.
Haus brings his unique abilities and sensitive nose to the security mission at the 380th AEW as an explosives search dog.
“Our primary mission is to search vehicles and packages for explosives upon entry to the base,” Sgt. Shanks said. “We also conduct random walking patrols for suspicious packages and activities.”
Military K-9 units and their handlers have a unique partnership that relies on trust and they build a special closeness, as the dogs and their handlers may be together for a number of years.
“Haus and I have a good working relationship,” said Sgt. Shanks. “He knows that I’m ultimately the boss but at the same time we are partners. I don’t believe he could do the job without me and I’m sure I couldn’t do it without him.”
5/27/2009 - JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq – Trained in explosives detection, narcotics detection and more, military working dogs here are now assisting in a different type of fight: the fight to rehabilitate patients at the Air Force Theater Hospital.
Members of the AFTH medical staff here held the first session of the K-9 Visitation Program, May 15, a program that works to further patient recovery after injury or illness through animal-assisted therapy.
JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq — Spc. Than Kywe, an Air Force Theater Hospital patient, shares a laugh with Cezar, a 332nd Expeditionary Security Forces Group explosives-detection military working dog, during the first session of the K-9 Visitation Program here May 15. The program works to further patient recovery after injury or illness through animal-assisted therapy. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Dilia Ayala)
The “pet project” of Staff Sgt. Janice Shipman, 332nd Expeditionary Medical Group intensive care unit aerospace medical technician, the program brings members of the 332nd Expeditionary Security Forces Group’s K-9 unit and the medical staff together with one goal in mind: patient recovery.
“We are working together to make (the patients) feel good about themselves and about healing,” said Sergeant Shipman, who is deployed here from Travis Air Force Base, Calif.
JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq — Staff Sgt. Charles Busha, 332nd Expeditionary Security Forces Group K-9 handler, introduces his narcotics detector dog, Golf, to patients at the Air Force Theater Hospital here May 15 as part of the newly created K-9 Visitation Program. Sergeant Busha and Golf are deployed from Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash., and the sergeant is a native of Lake Jackson, Texas. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Dilia Ayala)
“From my experience, with their injuries, (patients) focus on that so much that just being able to have a distraction even for a little bit helps them heal,” continued the Phenix City, Ala., native. “Seeing brings us good memories, touching brings up good memories as well. If (patients) feel good about themselves and their environment, they can say, ‘hey, I’m included with this’ and they are not just thinking, ‘I’m a patient in a bed.’ It’s therapeutic.”
An AFTH patient, Army Staff Sgt. Vannell Baerrien said his experience with the K-9s has made a difference in his healing process.
JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq — Staff Sgt. Kristen Smith, 332nd Expeditionary Security Forces Group K-9 handler, and her explosives-detection military working dog, Cezar, put on a demonstration for patients at the Air Force Theater Hospital here May 15 as part of the newly created K-9 Visitation Program. The program works to further patient recovery after injury or illness through animal-assisted therapy. Sergeant Smith and Cezar are deployed here from McGuire Air Force Base, N.J., and the sergeant is a native of Johnstown, Pa. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Dilia Ayala)
“Being here with the dog has helped me relax a lot more,” he said. “It has helped me to be able to take a deep breath and exhale so to speak. This has been a wonderful and welcomed event.”
Army Sgt. Marc Dowd, also a wounded warrior at the AFTH, shared common feelings regarding the K-9 Visitation Program: “(The program) gave me a chance to get out. Being able to get out here, especially with a working dog, is a great environment to be in. It helped me out. It made me forget about the pain just to have the dog around. It was really nice.”
JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq — Staff Sgt. Janice Shipman, 332nd Expeditionary Medical Group intensive care unit aerospace medical technician, explains to Air Force Theater Hospital patients here the purpose of the K-9 Visitation Program May 15. The program works to further patient recovery after injury or illness through animal-assisted therapy. Sergeant Shipman is deployed here from Travis Air Force Base, Calif., and is a Phenix City, Ala., native. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Dilia Ayala)
The use of animals for therapeutic purposes goes as far back as 1699 when the English philosopher John Locke suggested the importance of children interacting with animals. The U.S. military began pushing for the use of therapy dogs in 1919 after success with World War I Soldiers.
Today, therapy dogs fall under the category of animal assisted therapy. While MWDs here are not specifically trained as therapy dogs, the program here serves to augment their given military duties as explosives-detection and narcotic s-detection dogs, in addition to serving as therapy to wounded servicemembers.
Overall, the program gives K-9 handlers a great chance to train their dogs to work closely with others besides the handlers, said Tech. Sgt. Joseph Throgmorton, 332nd ESFG kennel-master.
JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq — Cezar, 332nd Expeditionary Security Forces Group explosives-detection military working dog, enjoys having his ears scratched as he sits at the feet of an Air Force Theater Hospital patient here. Cezar was one of two MWDs that participated in the newly created K-9 Visitation Program at the AFTH. The program works to further patient recovery after injury or illness through animal-assisted therapy. Patients are able to interact with the K-9s and their handlers twice a month. Cezar is deployed here from McGuire Air Force Base, N.J. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Dilia Ayala)
“These are military working dogs; when they are on duty on-base, we generally do not let people pet them,” said Sergeant Throgmorton, who is deployed here from Hill AFB, Utah. “However, we have a unique mission here. Our dogs are working with non-K-9 handlers in close quarters of vehicles off-base and need to become comfortable around others.”
The program has done just that for Staff Sgt. Kristen Smith, 332nd ESFG K-9 handler, and her explosives detection MWD, Cezar.
“Whenever you’re training the dog around Coalition forces, you want to make sure he’s not aggressing on people you don’t want him to aggress on,” Sergeant Smith said. “This (program) furthers that training because when we are riding in HMMWVs and we are out patrolling, we try to train them (MWD) on how they are going to act around Coalition forces so they’re only going to do (aggress someone) whenever he (MWD) feels threatened, his handler is threatened or when given the actual command.”
Sergeant Smith and Cezar were one of two K-9 teams to participate in the initial session of the program. The other was Staff Sgt. Charles Busha, and his narcotics detector dog, Golf, deployed herefrom Fairchild AFB, Wash., and a native of Lake Jackson, Texas.
JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq — Staff Sgt. Kristen Smith, 332nd Expeditionary Security Forces Group K-9 handler, gives verbal positive reinforcement to her explosives-detection military working dog, Cezar, for his conduct during his participation in the K-9 Visitation Program at the Air Force Theater Hospital here May 15. The newly created program allows AFTH patients to interact with K-9s to help further their recovery after injury or illness as a form of animal-assisted therapy. The program also furthers the MWD’s training, as they work in close proximity with Coalition forces here during their day-to-day mission. Sergeant Smith and Cezar are deployed here from McGuire Air Force Base, N.J., and the sergeant is a native of Johnstown, Pa. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Dilia Ayala)
Scheduled to be held at the AFTH twice a month at a minimum depending on the K-9 unit’s operations tempo, the visitation program will be available to other 332nd ESFG K-9 handlers and their MWDs. Sergeant Smith said she was happy to have participated in the first session and hopes to continue participating.
“If the patients want to see Cezar, I will bring him over,” she said, who is deployed here from McGuire AFB, N.J. “I think this is a really good program. It furthers our training and helps the patients.
Furthermore, the native of Johnstown, Pa., said participating in this program has helped her see the fruits of their training.
“(Being a part of this program) boosted my confidence that the training we are doing is paying off,” she said. “Cezar is already good around people, but any additional training is always good for the dog.
“(Cezar) is an explosives detection dog; we’re always conducting training to make sure he recognizes all odors so when you’re out patrolling, he can pick up an odor from far away and he’ll respond to it to let you know and to let fellow Soldiers know that there’s something out there,” she added. “They are all well-trained animals and as long as their handler’s around and they ask the handler’s permission, they are approachable and their purpose can be that of a therapy dog as well.”
In addition to helping patients in their recovery process and the K-9s in their training, Sergeant Shipman said she hopes the program will serve yet another purpose: educate both the medical staff and the security forces members about each other’s missions. Following patient interaction with the K-9s, the medical staff is able to view a K-9 demonstration, showcasing some of their (MWD) daily training.
“I hope this will give people a new understanding about what the K-9 unit does and help in bringing us together,” she said. “The K-9 unit will see what we do as a medical staff, and us as a medical staff will see what they do. They save lives just like we do. We will work together with the common goal to heal our patients.”
When students in Evelyn Van Nuys’ seventh grade history class were studying the Vietnam War, they learned that thousands of dogs served in the military, attacking enemy soldiers and sniffing out explosives. They also learned that many of these “war dogs” were abandoned and forgotten after the war.
The J.P. Case Middle School students decided the heroic canines and their handlers should be remembered, so they joined with their teacher to create a memorial at the Raritan Township school.
Veronica Slaght/For The Star-Ledger
Students at the J.P. Case Middle School in Raritan
Township decided a memorial to the dogs lost in the Vietnam War.
The memorial to war dogs and their handlers was dedicated at a ceremony this afternoon.
The black granite slab was donated by Rich Kulinski, and the students raised $4,000 to have it etched. It bears a Terry Waldron sketch of a war dog named “Fluffy” and his handler, and a poem called “The Soldier Dog,” written by Vietnam veteran Joe Ferrara. It also lists the nine New Jersey military dog handlers who were killed in action in Vietnam.
Today’s event drew local veterans’ organizations, politicians and members of the public to honor “courage at both ends of the leash.” Veterans’ organizations included Hunterdon County Bulldogs Chapter 957, Military Order of Purple Hearts Chapter 27, Vietnam Vets of America Chapter 452 and American Legion Post 159.
The attendees were joined by about 500 students.
During the ceremony, students and veterans placed flowers in front of the memorial for the dog handlers who died in Vietnam. The program also featured a student choir singing “Where Have All The Flowers Gone,” Lebanon Mayor Mark Paradis and Dan Schultz performing Echo Taps, and Rose Holden singing “America the Beautiful.”
According to Van Nuys, dogs were considered military equipment and left in Vietnam at the end of the war. The Gifted and Talented and seventh grade students attended a special assembly featuring veterans in the community and John C. Burnam, military dog handler and founder of the National War Dog Memorial in Washington D.C.
Veronica Slaght/For The Star-Ledger
Senior airman Rodreques Boyd, from McGuire Airforce Base, with Cici, a German shepherd who has been to Iraq twice. The two have been training together and will start their first joint tour of in September.
In addition to inspiring her students to honor war dogs, Van Nuys also inspired Flemington resident J.T. Gabriel. Gabriel formed the nonprofit organization K9 Soldiers to collect and donate necessary goods to the K9 teams at Fort Drum, Lakehurst Naval Air Station, McGuire Air Force Base and Bolling Air Force Base.
To make a donation to K9 Soldiers call at (908) 284-0284 or visit k9soldiers.org.
Gabriel also arranged to have representatives from these bases attend the dedication, which was performed with full military honors.
Senior airman Rodreques Boyd came to the event from McGuire Airforce Base with Cici, a German shepherd who has been to Iraq twice. The two have been training together and will start their first joint tour of duty in September. Boyd, originally from Atlanta, said he thought the memorial was “awesome.”
Peter Abramchak, who goes by “Pittstown Pete,” said he is glad the school did this. Abramchak served in Vietnam and is a member of the Marine Corps League. He said some military dogs are trained to attack, while others are used to sniff out bombs.
By Airman 1st Class Justin Shelton, 22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
May 7, 2009 – 7:18:59 PM
Blackanthem Military News
MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. – The 22nd Security Forces Squadron performed a military working dog demonstration for more than 200 elementary school students at Wichita Collegiate School April 24.
Team McConnell fostered a greater bond with the local community as well as the Marine Corp by coming out to perform a MWD demonstration and to speak to the students about their canines.
Tech. Sgt. Daniel Bechtel, 22nd Security Forces Squadron kennel master, answers questions about military working dogs during a demonstration at Wichita Collegiate School April 24. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Justin Shelton)
The children had a vested interest in learning about MWDs because they spent a year raising a golden retriever named Trinidad, to become a service dog. The children raised the dog until it was old enough to be sent to the Canine Assistance Rehabilitation Education and Services Corporation.
Raymond Geoffroy, assistant deputy commandant, plans, policies, and operations at the Pentagon, visited and spoke to the children about working dogs and their service dog. He spoke about how MWDs have helped the military for many years and about how service dogs help people all over the world.
“I want everyone to know that dogs really are man’s best friend, not only from the standpoint of helping the elderly, but also from a military standpoint,” said Mr. Geoffroy.
Mr. Geoffroy played a MWD video and then introduced McConnell’s kennel master, Tech Sgt. Daniel Bechtel, along with dog handlers Staff Sgts. Max Soto and Michael Shelite, Senior Airmen Paul Quilty and Billy Lofton, all from the 22nd Security Forces Squadron. Sergeant Bechtel spoke briefly about MWDs and how the Air Force uses them to assist in finding dangerous substances such as bombs and drugs.
Sheryl, one of McConnell’s working dogs, was lead out by her handler, Airman Lofton, to perform a short demonstration of what she does on a regular basis. Airman Lofton guided Sheryl along a series of suitcases in front of the stage, where she found no suspicious objects. Sheryl is nine years old and is nearing her date of retirement.
After the demonstration Sergeant Bechtel answered questions about MWDs and their use in the Air Force.
4/22/2009 - EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – On any normal day in Military Working Dog sections around the world the phrase “Feed the Dawgs” brings to mind the handler’s daily chores. However, on April 19 at the 95th Security Forces Squadron, Military Working Dog section here it had a completely different meaning. Vietnam veterans ‘Feed the Dawgs’
Staff Sgt. Eric Magnuson, 95th Security Forces Squadron K-9 handler, handles Military Working Dog Nix as they display the capabilities of today’s military working dog to group of Vietnam-era dog handlers at the 95th SFS working dog area April 19. “Feed the Dawgs,” is a group of Vietnam era dog handlers who visit K-9 handlers and provide meals for the handlers and their families. (Air Force photo/Lisa Camplin)
“Feed the Dawgs is a U.S. Veterans group of Vietnam era dog handlers who travel from base-to-base to provide a meal for K-9 handlers and their families,” said Kenneth Neal, Vietnam Dog Handlers Association member.
The Veteran dog handlers brought everything from cases of steaks to bags of homemade cookies, all served with a healthy side of K-9 war stories.
“The hardest part about going to war and coming home during the Vietnam Era was that nobody said thank you,” said Jon Hemp, U.S. Air Force K-9 Veteran. ”We want to make sure that doesn’t happen again,”
Mr. Neal served two tours in Thailand during the Vietnam War with his partner Sentry Dog Rinny.
“Back then military working dogs were sentry dogs, which meant they were virtually uncontrollable. Once the dog was released there was no calling them back,” he said. “Those dogs went through weeks of aggression training after their regular canine training at Lackland AFB, Texas. Their purpose was to cause irreparable damage.”
Regardless of the extreme ingrained aggression of military working dogs back then, the bonds formed between handler and dog were just as strong as they are today.
“I loved my dog [Astor]. He weighed 85 pounds to my 165 pounds but, he took me wherever he wanted to go,” said Mr. Hemp. “K-9 was the Air Force’s night vision back then. We stood guard along the perimeter at night watching for threats.”
Sadly, Sentry Dog Astor was killed during the U.S./Libyan stand-off at Wheelus Air Base, Libya. In fact, many MWD’s failed to return home during the Vietnam War era either due to loss in combat or because they had to be left behind due to threats of foreign disease and viruses.
As quickly as the Veterans eyes saddened while they reflected on their personal stories, they brightened again upon seeing Edwards working dogs brought out for a demonstration in the training yard.
Tech. Sgt. John Ricci and Staff Sgt. Eric Magnuson, 95th SFS military working dog handlers, escorted military working dog Nix. Together, they put on an attack work and bite training demonstration to show the skills of today’s Air Force working dogs.
“In the 60′s and 70′s our bite wraps were made of used fire hoses covered with old field jackets,” Mr. Neal said, as he watched Sergeant Ricci take several aggressive bites from military working dog Nix.
Today’s bite wraps consist of layers of burlap and leather, which take most of the pressure and pain out of a bite.
After the demonstration, several of the military working dogs were brought out to capture a rare group photo of Air Force K-9 handlers past and present.
“To be lucky enough to have prior K-9 handlers take the time to recognize what we do and to share their stories is so invaluable.” expressed Master Sgt. Jon Camplin, 95th SFS Kennel master.
“Working with military working dogs isn’t an exact science because you’re dealing with a living, breathing animal that has a mind of its own,” said Sergeant Camplin. “A great K-9 handler learns everything possible from other K-9 handlers and puts all of that knowledge into their own little bag of tricks.”
“Just spending 10 minutes with any of the war veteran handlers here today is one of the most special learning experiences any of our current handlers could hope for,” said Sergeant Camplin.
By the end of the afternoon one message was clear, even decades after a military working dog handler’s career ends, he or she still has a K-9 bond with all handlers that only people like them could understand. Their patriotism and love and respect for all things K-9 stands true.
by Staff Sgt. Dilia Ayala
332nd Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
4/17/2009 - JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq – It is often said a dog is a man’s best friend. For a Joint Expeditionary Tasking or JET Airman here, his dog is not just a friend, but a tool that could mean life or death for servicemembers patrolling the Iraqi streets.
At the ready
CAMP TAJI, Iraq — Senior Airman William Bailey, a military working dog handler and Joint Expeditionary Tasking Airman from the 732nd Air Expeditionary Group attached to the Army’s 1st Calvary Division, and his MWD Robby, an explosives detector dog, train together here March 24. A native of Richmond, Va., Airmen Bailey is deployed here from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Lionel Castellano)
Senior Airman William Bailey, a military working dog handler and JET Airman from the 732nd Air Expeditionary Group attached to the Army’s 1st Calvary Division here, and Robby, a nine-year-old Belgian Malinois patrol, explosives detector dog, work together to keep servicemembers safe
“My mission here is to search for and expose explosives in any form,” said Airman Bailey. “(Robby and I) go on cordon walks, air assaults, raids, anything that the Soldiers on the ground need help in protecting themselves by the detection of explosives.
Man’s best friend
CAMP TAJI, Iraq — Senior Airman William Bailey, a military working dog handler and Joint Expeditionary Tasking Airman from the 732nd Air Expeditionary Group attached to the Army’s 1st Calvary Division, praises Robby, his nine-year-old Belgian Malinois patrol, explosives detector dog, after he successfully completed an obstacle course as part of daily training here. Airman Bailey and Robby are deployed here from the 4th Security Forces Squadron, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C. Airman Bailey is a native of Richmond, Va. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Dilia Ayala)
“We go out and find the bombs before something could go off and injure our fellow men and women fighting together,” he added.
The duo is constantly training to ensure they are always mission-ready.
“We do training daily,” said the Airman, deployed here from the 4th Security Forces Squadron at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C. “Training is constant with us; we have to stay proficient in our duties because of the dangerous aspect of it.
To serve and protect
CAMP TAJI, Iraq — Military working dog Robby, an explosives detector dog, charges a simulated aggressor to protect his handler, Senior Airman William Bailey, a MWD handler and Joint Expeditionary Tasking Airman from the 732nd Air Expeditionary Group attached to the Army’s 1st Calvary Division, during a training session here March 24. A native of Richmond, Va., Airmen Bailey is deployed here from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Lionel Castellano)
“Obedience (training) is done daily, and explosive detection (training) is done as often as possible,” said the native of Richmond, Va. “It’s vital.”
Paired for almost a year now, Airman Bailey said the team hit it off from the first time they met.
“We have a great bond together,” he said. “We’ve been together since June of 2008. We just mesh together perfectly.
“(Being deployed with Robby) has been a fun experience,” he said. “(Military working dog handlers) get a little extra privilege by having a little buddy with us the whole deployment. It’s nice to have that bond especially on those tough days when you’re feeling a little bit down. You just look down at the dog and see how happy he is to just be hanging out with you. It just brightens your day.”
Tackling an obstacle course
CAMP TAJI, Iraq — Senior Airman William Bailey, a military working dog handler and Joint Expeditionary Tasking Airman from the 732nd Air Expeditionary Group attached to the Army’s 1st Calvary Division, prepares to let Robby, his nine-year-old Belgian Malinois patrol, explosives detector dog, complete an obstacle as part of their daily training here. Airman Bailey and Robby are deployed here from the 4th Security Forces Squadron, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C. Airman Bailey is a native of Richmond, Va. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Dilia Ayala)
As a JET Airman, Airman Bailey has had the opportunity of being attached to the Army, and he said he has thoroughly enjoyed being a part of the Army’s 1st CAV MWD team. His Army counterpart feels the same way about Airman Bailey.
“It’s great having him as part of the team,” said Army Staff Sgt. David Harrison, 1st Calvary Division kennelmaster, who is deployed from Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. “He goes out on missions and does his part like any Soldier would. There isn’t a difference.
“We work well together,” added the Castle Rock, Colo., native. “We are helping keep our fellow servicemembers safe.”
As his deployment nears its end, Airman Bailey reflects on his appreciation for his K-9 Robby.
Side by side
CAMP TAJI, Iraq — Senior Airman William Bailey, a military working dog handler and Joint Expeditionary Tasking Airman from the 732nd Air Expeditionary Group attached to the Army’s 1st Calvary, keeps his MWD, an explosives detector dog, fit to fight by running with him through an obstacle course here March 24. A native of Richmond, Va., Airmen Bailey is deployed here from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Lionel Castellano)
“It’s been a great experience; I’ve had a lot of fun,” he said. “I was a little nervous (about being deployed to Iraq) this being my first time over here, especially with the dog. It has created a lot of good memories.
“The bond that I share with (Robby) is probably the most meaningful part of the job,” said the Airman with a smile. “If I didn’t have him, than I’d have to learn how to smell bombs. It would be much more difficult, more time-consuming, and a lot more dangerous. He’s been doing this all his life, and he loves to do it.”
Together, Airman Bailey and Robby will return together to Seymour Johnson AFB and continue working as a team — and preparing for future deployments.
by Staff Sgt. Thomas J. Doscher
386th Air Expeditionary Public Affairs
4/10/2009 - CAMP BUCCA, Iraq (AFNS) – Military working dog handlers and their canine partners are used throughout Southwest Asia to detect explosives that are meant to injure servicemembers and innocent civilians.
For one dog handler, Staff Sgt. Joseph Null, and his dog, Lucca, this task took an interesting turn.
ROCK SOLID WARRIOR
CAMP BUCCA, Iraq — Staff Sgt. Joseph Null, 42nd Military Police Brigade military working dog handler, and his dog, Lucca, successfully investigated a 22,000-gallon fuel truck that had gone off the road in Iraq to ensure it contained no explosives. Sergeant Null is deployed from the 52nd Security Forces Squadron at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany. (Courtesy photo)
“There was a fuel truck that had gone off road and got stuck in the sand,” said the sergeant, who is part of the 42nd Military Police Brigade. “It had been abandoned overnight, and I was tasked to go out with the Army to sweep the area leading up to the vehicle and basically clear the area for improvised explosive devices that had been attached to the vehicle.”
This is an important, though dangerous step, he said.
“Anytime you’re going to have people go into an unknown area, you want to clear it as best as you possibly can,” Sergeant Null said. “If you can have an Explosive Ordnance Disposal team clear it or a bomb-sniffing dog go out there and clear the area, then you’re taking one more threat away from the Soldier who has to go out there and do a job.”
But IEDs weren’t the only threat posed by the abandoned truck. It was carrying 22,000 gallons of gas, potentially turning the truck into a massive fuel bomb.
“That makes a pretty big bomb if there’s some C4 strapped to it,” he said.
For 45 agonizing minutes, Sergeant Null and Lucca searched the area, the handler waiting for the working dog to give him some sign that all wasn’t well with the tanker truck.
“It makes you a little nervous clearing a real area, because you know it’s the real deal,” he said. “But that’s your job. This is what I signed up to do. Somebody’s got to do it, right? If my dog had sat, I would have praised her and gotten back to the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle as quick as possible to report what had happened.”
At this point, it was Lucca’s show. The German Shepherd would either sit, indicating the presence of a bomb, or she wouldn’t.
“You don’t look at the dog as a dog,” Sergeant Null said. “You train together all the time. We’ve been together since June and I couldn’t count the number of hours we’ve spent together. It’s like having a best friend. You think on that same wavelength. My dog goes and does her job, and you know what to look for while she does her job. If you can’t trust the dog, you shouldn’t be out there anyway.”
But Lucca didn’t sit. The truck was clear.
“Everything was good to go,” Sergeant Null said.
Eight hours later, the truck was finally pulled free of the sand, and the convoy made its way back to base. Sergeant Null said that although his primary mission is inside the wire, he’s more than willing to go out again if called upon.
“It’s my job,” he said. “It’s the best job in the Air Force. You get to play with a dog and get paid pretty well for it. You can’t beat that.”
Col. Alan Metzler, 586th Air Expeditionary Group commander, said Joint Expeditionary Tasking Airmen like Sergeant Null are providing critical services in the joint environment and excelling at it.
“Our combat Airmen are doing an outstanding job in support of the mission at Camp Bucca, and Sergeant Null proves it,” Colonel Metzler said. “Often, they have to adapt to situations and perform unique missions we don’t normally ask them to do in the Air Force. Airmen like him demonstrate the Air Force’s commitment to our mission in Iraq