A Special Presentation From Hahn's 50th AP K-9, West Germany
THE DOGS OF WAR:
VIETNAM 1960-1975 USAF..First In..Last Out!
Featuring The History of The United States and Great Britain!
Air Force planners in1960 were well aware that its ground units and aircraft could be involved in a shooting war in Southeast Asia. Early in 1961 the 4400th Crew Training Squadron was activated at Eglin AFB, Florida, to prepare airmen for action in a guerrilla warfare environment. Graduates of the Eglin school were assigned as advisors to the South Vietnamese military. Operation Farmgate had begun. In November 1961, the long term commitment of U.S. forces in Vietnam began.
1960: 'US Military Advisors' With Captured NLF flag.
In March 1965*, military working dogs were approved for use in Vietnam. By July 17th, forty teams had been deployed to three bases - Tan Son Nhut, Ben Hoa and DaNang. This was only the beginning, by the end of the year there were 99 dogs in the country. By September 1966 more than 500 dog teams were deployed to ten bases. In the seventeen months between July 1965 and December 1966 not a single Viet Cong sapper team penetrated a base guarded by sentry dogs.
*The United States Air Force K-9 was in Vietnam as early as 1960, with a sentry dog research and development project, located at Go Vap, an old French dog compound on the outskirts of Saigon.
He Was The First Of His Kind...
He was the first hero of his kind to return from the Vietnam War. The welcoming committee watched him walk down the ramp of the plane that had just landed at Kelly Air Force Base. He was wounded, his right eye was missing and a scar ran from below his right eye socket to his mouth. But his wounds weren't what made him different from other returning Vietnam veterans...it was because he was a dog.
Of the many dogs that served this country in Vietnam, Nemo is probably the most famous.
Nemo, was whelped October 1962, and was procured by the Air Force in the summer of '64, from a sergeant, for sentry dog training, when he was 1 1/2 years old.
After completing an eight-week training course at Lackland's Sentry Dog Training School, in San Antonio, Texas; the 85 pound, black and tan German Shepherd, and his new handler, Airman Bryant were assigned to Fairchild AB, Washington for duty with Strategic Air Command.
In January 1966, Nemo and handler, Airman Leonard Bryant Jr., were transferred to the Republic of South Vietnam with a large group of other dog teams, and was assigned to the 377th Security Police Squadron, stationed at Tan Son Nhut Air Base.
Six month later, in July, Nemo's original handler rotated back to the States. The dog was then paired with 22 year old Airman 2nd Class Robert Thorneburg.
It's here that we begin our story, on how and why Nemo was to be become famous...
Nemo No. A534, 377th Security Police K-9 Tan Son Nhut Air Base, Vietnam.
Tan Son Nhut: The story took a tragic turn on December 4, 1966. During the early morning hours a group of 60 Viet Cong emerged from the jungle. Several sentry dog teams stationed on preventive perimeter posts gave the initial alert and warning almost simultaneously.
Immediately, Rebel, a sentry dog on patrol, was released. The response was a hail of bullets that killed the dog.
Forty-five minutes later the group was detected by sentry dog Cubby. Cubby was released with the same results. It was clear that the VC had learned to handle the attack dog.
Another dog, Toby, was killed and several handlers wounded before the attackers were finally driven off.
As a result of this early warning, security forces of the 377th Air Police Squadron successfully repelled the attack, minimizing damage to aircraft and facilities. Although wounded, one dog handler maintained contact with the enemy and notified Central Security Control of their location and direction of travel.
Two security policemen in a machine gun bunker were ready and waiting as the Viet Cong approached the main aircraft parking ramp. In a few seconds they stopped the enemy, killing all 13 of the attackers.
Security forces rapidly deployed around the perimeter and prevented the infiltrators from escaping, forcing them to hide. Three airmen and their dogs had died in the fighting. By day break, the search patrols believed that all of the remaining Viet Cong were killed or captured. Unfortunately supervisors did not include dog teams in those daylight patrols.
Airman 2nd Class Bob Thorneburg and his dog Nemo were to become legends later that night.
The sentry dog teams that climbed into the back of the army truck that night were quieter than usual. Many of the handlers were thinking about the events of the previous night. They were saddened by the loss of their fellow K-9s. They were also anxious about what awaited them on their patrols. There was a good chance that stragglers from the previous night's attack could still be out there.
Airman L. Bryant and Nemo
That night, Thorneburg and Nemo were assign duty near an old Vietnemese graveyard about a quarter mile from the air base's runways. No sooner had they started their patrol... Nemo alerted on something in the cemetery. But before Thorneburg could radio the CSC, that "something" opened fire.
Thorneburg released his dog and then charged firing into the enemy. Nemo was shot and wounded, the bullet entering under his right eye and exited through his mouth. Thorneburg killed one VC before he too was shot in the shoulder and knocked to the ground.
That might of been the sad end of the story. But Nemo refused to give in without a fight. Ignoring his serious head wound, the 85 pound dog threw himself at the Vietcong guerrillas who had opened fire. Nemo's ferocious attack brought Thorneburg the time he needed to call in backup forces.
A Quick Reaction Team arrived and swept the area but found no other Viet Cong. However, security forces, using additional sentry dog teams, located and killed four more Viet Cong. A second sweep with the dog teams resulted in discover of four more Viet Cong who were hiding underground. They, too, were killed.
Although severely wounded, Nemo crawled to his master and covered him with his body. Even after help arrived Nemo would not allow anyone to touch Thorneburg. Finally separated, both were taken back to the base for medical attention. Thorneburg was wounded a second time on the return to the base.
Lt. Raymond T. Hutson, the base vet, worked diligently to save Nemo's life. It required many skin grafts to restore the animal's appearance. Nemo was blinded in one eye, After the veterinarian felt Nemo was well enough, the dog was put back on perimeter duty. But it turned out his wounds needed further treatment.
On June 23, 1967, Air Force Headquarters directed that Nemo be returned to the United States with honors, as the first sentry dog to be officially retired from active service.
Thorneburg had to be evacuated to the hospital at Tachikawa Air Base in Japan to recuperate. The handler and the dog who saved his life said their final goodbyes. Airman Thorneburg fully recovered from his wounds and also returned home with honors.
Nemo Being Escorted Home!
Nemo flew halfway around the world accompanied by returning airman Melvin W. Bryant. The plane touched down in Japan, Hawaii and California. At each stop, Air Force vets would examined the brave dog for signs of discomfort, stress and fatigue...after all he was a War Hero!
Finally, the C-124 Globemaster touched down at Kelly Air Force Base, Texas, on July 22, 1967. Captain Robert M. Sullivan, was the officer in charge of the sentry dog training program at Lackland, and was the head of Nemo's welome home committee.
"I have to keep from getting involved with individual dogs in this program," Sullivan said, "but I can't help feeling a little emotional about this dog. He shows how valuable a dog is to his handler in staying alive."
Nemo Having His Monthly Checkup At Lackland!
After settling in Nemo and Captain Sullivan made a number of cross country tours and television appearances, as part of the Air Force's recruitment drive for more war dog candiates, until the US involvement in Vietnam started to wind down.
Nemo then spent the rest of his retirement at the Department of Defense Dog Center, Lackland AFB, Texas. He was given a permanent kennel near the veterinary facility. A sign with his name, serial number, and details of his Vietnam heroic exploit designated his freshly painted home.
Nemo died December 1972 at Lackland AFB, shortly before the Christmas holiday; after an failed attempt to preserve his remains, the Vietnam War hero was layed to rest on March 15, 1973, at the DoD Dog Center, at the age of 11. Until then, his presence at Lackland reminded students just how important a dog is to his handler - and to the entire unit.
--- Dedication ---
Vietnam ...was to become the longest war ever fought by the American armed forces and certainly one of the U.S. most unpopular. For almost ten years, we sent our young men and women to serve, fight and died along side each other without the full support of a country, whose flag they served.
This page is dedicated to all those, who served their country!
Navy K-9, Dick King and Erich, Da Nang, 1968
Vietnam, 1950. President Harry S. Truman sends a 35 man military advisory group to aid the French fighting to maintain their colonial power in Vietnam.
Vietnam, 1954. After the French defeat at Dien Bien Phu, the country was divided along the 17th paralled, between Ho Chi Minh's communist North and in the south, President Ngo Dinh Diem's Republic of Vietnam.
Vietnam, 1954. Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy (from 1954 onward) sent civilian advisers (CIA and former military), and later covertly, military advisers to train the ARVN (South Vietnamese) in counterinsurgency.
Vietnam, 1960. Long before the involvement of any American fighting troops, the MAAGV, Military Assistance Advisory Group, Vietnam recommended the establishment of a military dog program for the Army of the Republic of Vietnam. Like many ideas, it looked great on paper, but in practice it was a disaster from the start.
Vietnam, 1960. the USAF began a research and development project at Go Vap, an old French army dog compound, located on the western outskirts of Saigon; its purpose was to expand on a number of new ideas concerning the use of MWD in the tropics.
Vietnam, 1960. December, Hanoi secretly established the National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam; usually referred to as the National Liberation Front, or the Viet Cong. Its objective was to overthrow Diem's regime in the south.
Vietnam, 1961. President Kennedy increased the number of military "advisors" in Laos and Vietnam to 3,000; where the first US soldier, Pvt James Davis had been killed by the Viet Cong.
A Scout Dog Departs A Huey.
Vietnam, 1961. In March, the Air Force sent two instructors, along with ten sentry dogs to assist the Vietnamese air force to establish better base security. The concept failed, when no one in the Vietnam government expressed an interest in starting a training regimen. The handlers returned to the states, the dogs remained with the ARVN.
Vietnam, 1961. The United States acts on the program that MAAGV recommended in 1960; that 468 sentry dogs and 538 scout dogs be sent to RVN. The DoD decided that 300 dogs would be suficient to start the Vietnamese program. The army Quartermaster Corps's Dog Training Detachment in Lenggries, West Germany, would quietly purchase the dogs there and transport them by airplane to Vietnam.
Vietnam, 1962. July, ARVN soldiers met their MWD for the first time. The dogs purchased in West Germany were at first scared of the Vietnamese and couldn't understand them. The same can be said of the Vietnamese, they were afraid of the dogs because of their size, who they only out weighted by a few pounds.
There were problems right from the start with the program, first there was no veterinary support in the entire country.
Secondly, the sentry dogs' basic diet was ignored by ARVN officers, because it cost more to feed the dogs than it did a ARVN soldier. (Note: nearly 90 percent of ARVN dog deaths would be attributed to malnutrition).
Bloodhounds Were To Noisy To Use In Vietnam!
Vietnam, 1962. The US Army sent a small detachment of six men, to establish Veterinary Support for the new ARVNs dog program.
Vietnam, 1962. April, for tactical training the U.S. Army sent four K-9 instructors, who started to train ARVN soldiers at Go Vap while a training facility was being built at Thanh Tuy Ha.
Vietnam, 1962. By the end of '62 there were roughly 11,500 US military personnel in South Vietnam. Although President Kennedy denied it, US pilots were flying combat missions in breach of the Geneva Accords.
Vietnam, 1963. November 1st, an CIA backed military coop removed President Diem and his corrupt family from power in Saigon. Both Diem and his brother were killed by rebels while taking shelter in a church.
Dallas, Texas, 1963. November 22nd, President Kennedy was assassinated; Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in as the President of the United States, on Air Force One.
Vietnam, 1963 - 1964. In the years following the coop against Diem, governments came and went in Saigon.
Vietnam, 1964. November, the Viet Cong attacked a USAF air base at Bien Hoa; in December they planted car bombs in Saigon; and on February 7th, 1965, they attacked the US air base at Pleiku in the Central Highlands, killing eight Americans and wounding over a hundred.
Stateside, 1965. In March, the President authorized sustained retaiation against Hanoi; the bombing of North Vietnam begain in earnest in a campaign code named Rolling Thunder and US MWDs were first authorized for use in Vietnam.
Vietnam, 1965. March 8th, the first US ground troops, 3,500 Marines in full battle kit, waded ashore at Da Nang.
Vietnam, 1965. July, the USAF launched Project Top Dog 145. Forty handlers and dogs were deployed to South Vietnam for a period of four months. The teams went to Tan Son Nhut and Bien Hoa air bases near Saigon and to the Da Nang air base, near the demilitarized zone.
Vietnam, 1965. September, following closely on the heels of the USAF, the army began deploying its sentry dogs to South Vietnam. It would reach an war time high of approx. 300 dogs in January, 1970.
Scout Dog From The 25th IPSD.
Vietnam, 1965. The Scout Dog returns!!! Both the U.S. Army and the Marines initiated scout/patrol dog programs, for use in Vietnam. It was generally acknowledged, that sentry dogs had a limited use and there was a real need for a dog that could be worked around friendly troops.
Australia, 1966. The Australian Army establishes The Army Tracking Wing, within their School of Infantry, Ingleburn, New South Wales, for the purpose of training K-9 Combat Tracker Teams for jungle warfare.
Vietnam, 1966. February, two Marine scout dog platoons are deployed to Vietnam. This was the first time since WWII, that the Marines would use scout dogs again!
Vietnam, 1966, April, the US Navy and Marines each had one sentry dog unit stationed at Da Nang.
Navy K-9, Dave Massey And Storm, Da Nang, 1968.
Stateside, 1966. April, the US Air Force starts 'Safe Side', a hastily conceived operation to build a special security police unit that would be fully trained in the arts of specialized light infantry tactics, hand-to-hand combat, special weapons, scout dog and position in defense against large enemy attacks.
Vietnam, 1966. June the civilian government in Saigon once again disintegrated and General Nguyen Van Thieu became the head of state.
Vietnam, 1966. The first opportunity to employ US Army scout dogs in Vietnam came in June, as the 25th IPSD arrived at Tan Son Nhut.
Stateside, 1966. Wth the end of Project Top Dog, the next AF program was Project Limelight, which purchased more dogs at Lackland, TX; and began the escalation of more dogs shipped to Vietnam; others came from the Pacific Air Force Sentry Dog Center at Showa, Japan.
Vietnam, 1966. Tan Son Nhut Air Base on December 4, one air force handler and three sentry dogs were killed during a VC penetration. This would be the largest battle involving sentry dogs, their handlers and the Vietcong during the entire United States involvement.
Army Combat Tracker With His Lab
Vietnam, 1966. October 4th the British Government agreed to train the US Army's first tracker (dog) groups at their Jungle Warfare School, at Johore Bahru, Malaysia. Black or yellow Labrador retrievers were favored as tracker (scenting) dogs for their natural characteristics. The mission of tracker teams was 'to locate' the enemy but not to engage but engage they did.
Stateside, 1967, January, the first all Navy sentry dog training class (#14126) graduates at Lackland AB, Texas; and deploys to DaNang, Vietnam. The Navy dogs and handlers were later reassigned to Cam Rahn Bay in 1969.
Vietnam, 1967, The Navy forms Meking Delta Mobile Riverine Force to support 9th Infantry Division operations.
Australians, photo courtesy of "Trackers!"
Vietnam, 1967. On May 8, the first of two Australian Combat Tracker Teams arrived in Vietnam, their base of operation was Nui Dat, part of the 2nd Battalion, First Australian Task Force. Note: Australia had sent military advisors to Vietnam in 1962, and combat troops since 1965.
Vietnam, 1967. The first US Air Force scout dogs arrived at Phu Cat Air Base. In the beginning Air Force unit commanders had no idea on how to effectively use them and considered them the same as sentry dogs. But, from January to July '67, they conducted 30 patrols, 54 ambush blocking force positions, 430 outposts and 152 camp security patrols...and their role was now firmly established!
Army Scout Dog Team, 1966.
Stateside, 1967. November, the United States establishes its own Combat Tracking Team Center at the U.S. Army Military Police School at Fort Gordon, Georgia.
Thailand, 1968. April, the first twenty U.S. Air Force sentry dogs arrived in Thailand, at Ubon Royal Thai AB; assigned to the 8th Security Police Squadron, 8th TFW (Wolf Pack).
France,1968. May, preliminary peace talks began in Paris. In the faced of obdurate North Vietnamese negotiators, the talks soon ran aground, There was no agreement or movement.
In 1969, there were "secret talks" between Hanoi and Henry Kissinger, but no agreement, and the bombing resumed.
Two years earlier in January 1966 there were exchanges for an month, but no movement; later in June 1966, talks were hosted by the Poles, in an exercise code named "Marigold," but again no agreement was reached.
For the first time the Soviet Union became involved but again renewed bombing of Hanoi led to failure in the talks.
In February 1967 President Johnson appealed directly to Ho Chi Minh. He offered to stop the bombing of the North, if the communists would stop inflitrating the South. Ho insisted the United States must unconditionally halt the bombings and all other acts of war against the North, before talks could begin. The bombing resumed!
ARVN K-9 Team, Captured VCs.
It's ironic, but the anti war movement clearly helped to boost North Vietnamese morale and substained Hanoi's will to fight on, rather than to talk peace.
At home, America was split into two nations; the government decided it was time to pull out of Vietnam and started a phase pull out of ground troops (1969).
The peace talks remained stalled until December 1972, when President Nixon ordered the largest mass bombing of North Vietnam forcing the North Vietnamese back to the Paris table.
One month later, the Paris Accords were signed on January 27th, 1973.
Vietnam, 1968. The Army deployed ten tracker teams to Nam and added a final one late in 1969.
Stateside,1968. Towards the end of the year, the army began to train off leash dogs, at Fort Benning; they would be assigned to Vietnam by the beginning of 1969.
Tunnel Dog Finds Viet Cong Spider Hole.
Stateside,1968. November 5th, Richard M. Nixon was elected the 37th President of the United States; re-elected in 1972, but resigned on August 8, 1974 over the Watergate scandal.
Vietnam, 1969. USARV War Dog Training Detachment, set up at Bien Hoa, for the training and deployment center for all dogs and handlers in South Vietnam.
Vietnam, 1969. Army scout dog teams peaked on January 20 with the arrival of the 37th IPSD, they became the 22nd scout dog platoon deployed to Vietnam.
Thailand, 1969. July: VC sappers attacked Ubon RTAFB; and again in January 1970. During the attacks two handlers were wounded, one dog was killed in action and another two dogs were wounded. Thailand was considered safe duty!
Vietnam, 1969. The Mine Dog (not used since World War II) and the new Tunnel dogs arrived in Vietnam for tests. Results were mixed depending on the ability of the handler to read his dog. In hindsight, both types of dogs were under utilized.
Vietnam, 1969. The last battle death of an air force canine sentry took place on January 29th, at Phan Rang Air Base.
US Combat Tracker Team
Vietnam, 1969. July, the army began to withdraw its combat tracker teams.
Okinawa, 1969. P.A.C.A.F. Sentry Dog Training Center was relocated to Kadena AB, from Showa, Japan, to be closer to the war zone.
Vietnam, 1970. January, Nixon appeared to wind down the war by handling over day-to-day combat operations to the South Vietnamese army, a process known as Vietnamization, in preparation of the withdrawal of 150,000 American ground troops.
Okinawa, 1970. January 1st, the Sentry Dog Training Center at Kadena was officially renamed the PACAF MWD Training Center. On Dec. 28th it moved into a newly constructed facility.
Thailand, 1970. US Air Force personnel started K-9 training for members of the Royal Thai Army and Air Force.
Vietnam, 1970. US drawdown starts! 200 American war dogs are turned over to ARVN, who already had more dogs than it could use or handle or wanted. Never-the-less more US dogs were turned over to the ARVN who now had a canine force in excess of seven hunded dogs.
Army Scout Platoon Heading Back Home!
Vietnam, 1970. As the Vietnam War neared the end, the idea of going home was greatly welcomed by the troops, but some of the dog handlers were worried what would happen to their dogs, and a number of handlers tried to get permission to take their dogs home with them, but the military said, 'it was afraid that the dogs would carry disease,' and said no.
When this group of dog handlers appealed for support from the American public, Congress (and the American press), the DoD seemed to have a change of heart, and several hundred dogs were placed in quarantine at Long Binh as a first step towards being sent home to the US.
Washington DC 1970. Sept 22nd, responding to stories in the press of the US dogs being lefted behind in Vietnam, Rep. John E. Moss (D, California) filed a bill (HR-19421), that would had established retraining or retirement in humane shelters for canine veterns. The bill died in committee.
Note: The Los Angeles Times happen to be one of the papers; they ran an exclusive article at the time with the 2 col headline, "1,000 U.S. 'War Dogs' in Viet to Stay" the Times author was George M. Carthur, the dateline: SAIGON - "American military dogs - German Shepherds, and Labrador Retrievers shipped here by the thousands for war patrol, guard and sentry duties - learn working Vietnamese commands in about three weeks.
That's a far better record than that of most American soldiers.
And it may be a good thing, since virtually all the dogs must stay behind while their handlers are gradually phased out of the Vietnam war.
There are a variety of reasons. The true 'war dog' trained for sentry and tracking (duty) cannot be untrained. And there are strange canine diseases here which might flourish back home and have caused their share of the estimated (US) 3,000 dog casualties in Vietnam.
There are about 1,000 American dogs with the U.S. Marines, Air Force and Army in South Vietnam. There is also a handful of dogs with the Navy working with secret amphibitous teams trained for raids in enemy territory.
Hardly noticed behind the headlines of human tragedies, the shepherds and Labradors have proved their value. They have been as effective, as any sophisticated weaponry, sent out by the Pentagon." (the story continued)
1970 - 3,000 est. dog casualties? About 1,000 dogs serving?
Fact or fiction...your guess is as good as mine, there was, and unfortunately still today, so much misinformation being quoted about the dogs of Vietnam, that we'll probably never know the real truth or actual figures.
South Vietnamese K-9 Team
Vietnam, 1970. Just about then, the government reversed its position feeling that the risks were to great. The dog handlers were now told that the World Health Organization had passed a ruling saying that no animals were to come out of Vietnam. Years later, the World Health Organization denied it ever said any such thing.
For what ever the reasons were, the military decided, that the dogs who served in Vietnam were not be be repatriated.
At the time, the choice was justified by the military as being practical, but perhaps the bitter truth was, that the dogs were unwanted stateside because they were surplus, and turning them over to ARVN was cost effective and solved what could have been a huge logistical problem for the US military, who was now preparing to downsize to a peace time army.
It was far easier, for the US military to tell themselves, that we were simply boltering ARVN, which they were; even though, they knew with the US's withdrawal that the war would change very quickly from an offensive to an defensive position in which dogs wouldn't have been of much use. ARVN didn't want them and neither did we at the time!
Only a small group of young, American G.I. K-9 Handlers did ...but no one was listening; the U.S. government, military and the American public were at the time more concern with bring home our servicemen, POWs and finding our MIAs!
Vietnam, 1971. May 3rd, 2 C-5A transports arrived at Long Binh, to pick up 120 dog returnees, (all that remained of the original 200, who were quarantine), of this number, 15 scout dogs were left in Okinawa and the rest (105) made it back to the United States to Lackland AB and Fort Benning.
The only other dogs that made it back to the USA were a 'war hero,' Nemo who returned earlier, and Turk. Turk was brought back to help a former handler, who layed near death in a coma. The handler died while Turk was on route and the dog was returned to Vietnam, after several days at Fort Benning.
A 377th Handler & K-9
Vietnam, 1971. June, the Marines, who were the first in Nam with scout dogs, withdrew their remaining scout dog platoons from the theatre of operation.
Stateside, 1971. With the start of the phased withdrawal of all American troops from Vietnam, the US began to dismantle its MWD programs at home. The army dog training school at Fort Gordon was closed.
Vietnam, 1971. Five more combat tracker teams left for the states, leaving only the 62nd and 63rd IPCT in Vietnam.
Vietnam, 1972. By June only about 130 dogs remained under the control of the United States; they were turned over to the ARVN, thus ending the final chapter of the American MWD in South Vietnam!
Vietnam, 1972. By June, the last American combat troops had left Vietnam. As the letter of the Paris Accords stated, all war combatants, both American and North Vietnameses were to be withdrawn from the contested areas, however both the VC and North Vietnam chose to ignored the agreement and continued the war against the South for another thirty-four months.
The ARVN, hopelessly weakened, and without the support of American troops and resources, fought a loosing battle, slowly retreating south, inch-by-inch.
Victory for the VC and North Vietnamese was now assured; and eventually, both the South Vietnamese civilians and military streamed into Tan Son Nhut Air Base and Saigon hoping to escape the brutiality of the advancing Communist forces.
Vietnam, 1972. Late 1972 the government of Australia began to withdraw their remaining armed forces; all tole, over 6,000 Aussies had served in Vietnam; the official record showed 519 Australians were killed in action, and nearly 2,500 wounded, none were listed as POWs.
Australians, photo courtesy of "Trackers!"
Of the eleven Australian dogs, that were left behind (due to quarantine rules), none were put down or given to the ARVN, but pensioned off (donated) to civilians still serving in South Vietnam. It is hoped, that they passed on before the country fell to the North Vietnamese in 1975.
Vietnam, 1973. March 29th, between 11:30 and 1300, the last remaining security police of the last operational squadron in the Republic of Vietnam, the 377th Security Police Squadron, were withdrawn from Tan Son Nhut Air Base. The last man to leave was the commander, Lt. Colonel Bill Luckett.
Vietnam, 1973. March 29th, US Security Policemen, from the 3rd Security Police Group were sent to Tan Son Nhut AB to perform security screening at the airport and to prevent saboteurs and stowaways from boarding evacuation aircraft. Every passenger evacuated was processed by the members of the 3rd SP Group (Provisional), until April 29th, 1975.
Thailand, 1974. The US Air Force started the transfer of the Security Police dogs to the Thai Air Force, for service and patrol. During the war, dogs were stationed at 8 different air bases: Don Muang, Kokha, Korat, Nakhom Phanom, Takhli, Ubon, Udorn and U-Tapao. Unlike the U.S. dogs, that were turned over to the ARVN, the dogs of Thailand did survived the end of the war.
Vietnam, 1975. April 30th, 18:30, the last ten Marines and Air Force security policemen lefted the American DOA compound with the remaining embassy passengers on board a CH-53 copter operated by the 56th Special Operations unit at Nhakon Phanom RTAFB and were taken to the aircraft carrier the USS Midway. The war in Vietnam was over!
When the very last American combat troops were evacuated, the South Vietnamese government and military were swiftly overwhelmed by the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong forces.
It is now believed that vitually all of the "remaining" war dogs that were "turned over" to ARVN perished then; unfortunately there're no "official records" available of the exact number of American War Dogs that were still in ARVN possession at the time.
During the Vietnam War 1960-'75, about 4,000 American war dogs were employed in various capacities, of these afew died early on in the war from food contamination; the Vietnam sub tropical climate killed several hundred more...according to the Army Veterinary Corps, 109 war dogs died from heatstroke in 1969 alone; and from June 1970 thru to December 1972, 371 dogs were euthanized as being noneffective in combat, and a other 148 died from various causes; during the entire war 281 were officially listed as killed in action...or was it more?
More than 9,000 Army, Navy, Marine, and Air Force handlers served in Vietnam during America's involvement.
Were the dogs of Vietnam effective? Our military experts and "armchair Generals" will probably be debating that question for the next hundred years. But any Vietnam combat veteran, that happened to be part of a patrol, that was saved from an VC ambush because of a scout dog's alert or prevented from walking into a mine field...will tell you, the answer is definitely yes!
The Viet Cong though so too.....they placed bounties on both, the American handlers and their war dogs!
Estimates vary, but some state that the dogs may have been responsible for the saving of at least 10,000 lives in Vietnam.
There Is No Stronger Bond, Than That Of A Handler And His Dog.
Marine Cpl Isaiah Martin Comforts His Dog wounded by a VC sniper
SiteBuilder: To learn more about the use of Military Working Dogs by the armed services during the Vietnam War, we suggest Michael G. Lemish's book 'War Dogs', published 1999 by Brassey's, Washington, DC. "The first important work on the subject in the last forty years!" 'War Dogs' is a complete history of the MWD from its orgins to after Vietnam. Available at most Book Sellers, world wide. "A very good read!"
NEXT: POST VIETNAM - CHANGING TIMES