A Special Presentation From Hahn's 50th AP K-9, West Germany

USAF First Dog Schools:

Showa and Wiesbaden!

The Early History of The United States Air Force's
First Sentry Dog Training School...

FEAF Sentry Dog Training Center

Showa was the USAF very first Dog School, and it was just plain luck, that it happened to be started during the Korean War.

Originally in 1948, FEAF had made a request to HQ USAF for trained US Army sentry dogs, to help stop the huge pilferages loses being suffered by their air bases throughout the Pacific.

In the latter part of 1949,  then USAF Air Provost Marshal, Lt. Colonel Joseph V Dillon, advised FEAF's General George E. Stratemeyer, Commander FEAF, that the availability of US Army trained dogs would be extremely limited, and he (Dillon) recommended that FEAF should consider establishing their own dog training center in the Far East.

All photos courtesy of Claude Anderson, 3rd ADS, Guam

On December 5, 1951, FEAF HQ authorized the Far East Air Logistic Force, Japan, to establish "Project Kennel," which called for the construction of 50 kennels, an obstacle course, and other facilities at Showa Air Station located several miles from Tachikawa Air Base near the Japanese village of Showa.

Showa Air Station was the site of a former WW-II Japanese training school used by Zero fighters; and towards the end of the war, Kamikaze pilots were trained there ......not that they needed that much training on how to crash a plane!

FEALF started construction of the new facilities on March 10, 1952; the location adjoined an small US Army anti aircraft gun emplacement, that was part of the air base defenses, because of the Korean War.

Showa's first training staff consisted of: 4-5 enlisted trainers, veterinarian, kennelmaster, and one officer, plus 6 Japanese handler/trainers.

On March 17, 1952, final arrangements were made for the purchase of fifty German Shepherds from the Nippon Police Dog Association of Tokyo, and from members of the Japan Kennel Club.

On April 1, 1952, about eighty-five dogs were examined and tested in a small Tokyo park, and fifty of the most promising dogs, between the ages of twelve and twenty-four months, were purchased for $75 each, constituting the first Air Force training class.

Kennel Entrance, Sign Reads: "Through
These Portals Pass The Best Sentry
Dogs In The Far East"

Now operational, the school's enlisted staff slept in tents on the building site, while the new dogs were simply staked out, near what was to become their kennels.

By November 28, 1952, the school had completed the first contract, and trained a total of 200 dogs, which were shipped mostly to Air Force bases in Korea for the war effort, and to FEAF bases in Japan, Okinawa, Guam, and the Philippines.

All of the dogs were pretrained for three weeks, 48-hours per week, by the civilian Japanese handler/trainers in an effort to keep the US handlers' TDY time to an absolute minumim.

Prior to the arrival of the handlers, the following schedule was used to pretrained the dogs:

1st Week: Basic Obedience (On Leash).

(1) Heel  (2) Sit  (3) Down  (4) Come  (5) Stay

2nd Week: Advanced Obedience (25 ft. Leash and Off Leash).

(1) Heel  (2) Sit  (3) Down  (4) Come  (5) Stay  (6) Explosions (7) Group Training.

3rd Week: Advanced Training.

(1) Jump  (2) Crawl  (3) Obstacles  (4) Riding Motor Vehicles (5) Attack  (6) Explosion  (7) Guarding

Kennel Building Construction Was Started March 1953

The handler's training was for anywhere between two or three weeks, depending upon the handler's attitude and abilities.

1st Day:

Roll Call, Orietation, Group Assignments, Assignment of Dogs, Rules of the Center, Training Film, First Aid, and Sanitation.

2nd Day:

Tour of the Center, Demonstraton with Dogs, Introduction of Dogs, Use of Equipment, Safety Procedures, Dog Feeding, plus Grooming and Care.

3rd Day:

Road March (0900-0930), Basic Obedience.

4th Day:

Road March (0900-0930), Basic Obedience.

5th Day:

Road March (0900-0930), Bassic Obedience.

6th Day:

Road March (0900-0930), Advanced Obedience, Testing (written and demonstration).

7th Day:

Road March (0900-0930), Advanced Obedience.

Kennel Building Construction Was Started March 1953

8th Day:

Road March (0900-0930), Advanced Obedience.

9th Day:

Road March (0900-0930), Advanced Obedience and Night Training (1800-2200).

10th Day:

Road March (0900-0930), Advanced Obedience and Night Training (1800-2200).

11th Day:

Road March (0900-0930), Advanced Obedience and Night Training (1800-2200).

12th Day:

Road March (000-0930), Testing (written and demonstration), Graduation (1400 hours).

13th Day - 21st Day:

Special Training, if necessary.  During the final week, all of the handlers and their new dogs were shipped back to their units,

Note: Prior to each day's schedule, all kennels and runways were cleaned by the trainees and their dogs were groomed (with the exception of any sick dogs, the road march started immediately afterwards).

Besides training all Air Force volunteer handlers, the school also trained both US Army and Marine personel; as well as Japanese Civilian Security Guards (CSUs) employed by the USAF, and civil Japanese police officers.

Project Kennel, officially became known as the FEAF Sentry Dog Training Center, on December 16, 1952, by virtue of FEAF Regulation 125-3; with the primary mission of procurement and training of all sentry dogs, and handlers for FEAF wide assignments.

On January 12, 1953, a new contract was made with the "All Japan Guard Dog Assoc." for the purchase of two hundred dogs.

Showa's Dog Kennels and Lady F-433

And on March 13, 1953, construction of a new kennel building with thirty attached steel runs was started; twelve days later, on March 25, 1953, another new contract for the purchase of three hundred fifteen additional dogs was entered into with the "All Japan Shepherd Dog Association."

It was thought, with the Truce Talks under way, and the end of the Korean War in sight, there would be a need for a larger number of sentry dogs for use in the new demilitarized zone in Korea, and at all FEAF's bases. Of course, they were right...it was also becoming more difficult to obtain qualified dogs!


According to Colonel Clifford V. Oje, Sr., Air Provost Marshal, of Headquarters, Far East Air Forces, the Center's sentry dog program, and use of K-9 Teams in FEAF theater of operation had "proved most beneficial," and that "all written and verbal reports from the field indicated exceptionally good results. In every instance where Sentry Dogs have been used, thievery and pilferage have stopped."(Note: Taken from the preface to the Center's Sentry Dogs Manual No. 2, revised May 1, 1953)

Also within the same Manual ...the Center had very casually voiced some of its concerns it had on the future use of dogs; quoting from Section V, on the "Utilization of Sentry Dogs."

"1 GENERAL: Sentry dogs are trained to be obedient, suspicious of strangers, and unfriendly to everyone but their handlers. Their aggressiveness has been developed to a point where they will attack on command. To best maintain the dog's "sharpness," unfriendly nature, and alerting qualities, they must be constantly trained, cared for, and handled by only one person. The only exception to this should be in cases where the dog works two (2) shifts per day which requires an alternate handler."

It seems the Center realized in May 1953, that there would be a future shortage of qualified sentry dogs for duty. The Manual No. 2 (revised) continued on the subject, in the Section on the "Areas Conductive To Use Of Sentry Dogs."

"C.   It has been determined that dogs are capable of working as much as twelve (12) hours a day. Generally, when increasing the dog's work day from six (6) to twelve (12) hours, a three or four week's "conditioning" period is required before the dog becomes fully adjusted. A loss in the dog's weight during this "conditioning" period is not cause for alarm. Normally, some increase in daily food rations is necessary when the dog's working hours are increased. Also, this operation requires the training and utilization of an alternate handler. The necessity for approximately one (1) hour per day of training for the dog must be considered when establishing working hours. Sentry dogs are very effective in large buildings, and enclosed areas devoid of personnel such as bomb dumps and POL stations."

Starting in late 1954, and continuing throughout most of 1955, the FEAF Sentry Dog Training Center had problems obtaining enough qualified shepherds from the various Japanese dog associations and began the temporary practice of training two (2) handlers for each sentry dog. This policy was limited to US Air Force and Army handlers in the Far East command.

There were still instances where one handler was matched to one dog, but it depended largely upon the circumstances and needs of the "home base" that sent the handler to the Center.

One other interesting item from the Center's 1953 Manual, in comparsion to today's U.S. Air Force requirements, was that protential handlers only needed to have a minumum of four (4) months lefted on their tour of duty to be able to volunteer for Sentry Dog duty!


Over the next thirty-two years, the Center saw many changes, some important and some not; on July 1, 1957, the name was officially designated PACAF Sentry Dog Training Center; and some time in the late fifties, the school was moved afew miles to Tachikawa AB, then in '62 back to Showa, when the former base was returned to the Japanese government.

The problem of finding qualified dogs in Japan was on going, and stateside procurement was eventually initiated in May 1961, the first 50 dogs arrived from Lackland soon afterwards.

In July 1969, during the Vietnam War, the Center was moved one final time, to Kadena Air Base, Okinawa; and on January 1st, 1970, the name was changed once again, this time to the PACAF Military Working Dog Training Center.

The Center continued operating for another fifteen years, and finally closed down during the mid '80s.

1955, Guam, and TDY To Showa ...a moment in time!

Claude Anderson and Heirmo

One Handler's

by Claude Anderson

My destiny to become an military dog handler began on June 1, 1954, when I received orders to report to the 3rd Aviation Field Depot Squadron, which was part of the Strategic Air Command's 3rd Air Division on the island of Guam.

After the first month, I was volunteered to become a Sentry Dog handler, and was assigned to their K-9 Section's A Flight and to a dog named Bitter-0, also known as Bero (F-422), who was actually quite abit insane having bitten my new partner on three or four occasions.

At the time, the 3rd ADS was assigning two handlers to each sentry dog, who worked two consecutive six hour shifts (swing and midnight). My partner, who had been working Bero for several months before I'd arrived, trained and broke me in.

Bero really hated everyone and everything including himself; the dog out of the blue, would just decide to bite something or someone, and of course, it seem like my partner was always available. I guess I was lucky, as Bero never bit me, but you could never tell what he would do next, having Bero certainly made for an exciting life.

After chewing on my partner again, Bero was finally shipped back to Japan for retraining, (or to arrange for a new diet), we never found out which!

Claude Anderson and Heirmo On Guam

Our new replacement was a dog, we both fell in love with, from day one, his name was Heirmo (F-200), a mixed Husky and German Shepherd, and working post with him became a real pleasure for all of us!

February 21, 1955, I was TDY to Showa's 6412th Air Police Squdron, and the FEAF Sentry Dog Training Center, along with two others from my base ...it was pretty exciting to be in Japan!

Our Training Class was composed of the three of us from Guam, one Marine with a Doberman, and nine Army handlers from Korea. We also had 55 different Japanese policemen, from various parts of Japan.

Since the three of us, from Guam, already had dogs back at the base, our class instructor assigned us dogs from the Center's inventory to put through the school. I was assigned a beautiful Shepherd named, Lady (F-433) who when we graduated, was shipped off to Korea.

While we were at the school, the instructors made a big deal out of two handlers being assigned to one sentry dog, saying the Air Force was just being efficient, being able to use one dog for two patrols, I guess they were trying to make us feel confidence.

They also strongly stressed, that the two handlers, must work as ONE, from voice commands, hand signals, etc., that one handler can't let the dog work one way, and the other handler permit the dog to be laxed at something else. Not once did they mention, that the reason for two handlers had anything to do with having shortages, but that was easy enough to figure out.

Heirmo During Attack Training, Done 3 Times Per Week

Back on Guam, my partner and I worked together (without Heirmo) practicing hand signals, etc., and never had a problem, either with Heirmo, or among ourselves ...we were both happy to be K9 handlers!

One of the saddest moments of my life, was saying goodbye to Heirmo, when my discharge orders came. We had been together for16 months and had shared hundreds of good times, and afew bad ones as well.

A final tear stained hug, and you have to walk away without looking back, knowing full well, Heirmo was watching!

Our squadron CO, Lt. Colonel William F. Flaherty Jr., told us as we were shipping out that final day, he could tell that the guys with the tear stained cheeks were "his dog handlers." His final order to us, was "Good luck and God bless you all."

Then with misty eyes, he told us, "don't worry, I will take good care of 'our dogs!'" We all know he did.

USAFE Sentry Dog Training Center

A second dog school,  attached to the 17th Air Force, USAFE, was opened in 1953, at Wiesbaden, West Germany, at the site of a former World War II German officers training school called the Hindenburg Kaseme, it was located in Wiesbaden Biebrich suburbs.

USAFE 17th AF K9 Center, Wiesbaden, West Germany


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